Cancer: The Furnace of Affliction
“Have you ever had a normal life?” my brother asked me as we sat in my hospital room at Markey Cancer Center in Lexington, Kentucky.
I didn’t answer him. I was thinking, ‘What is considered a normal life?’ and then realized that the question would be answered differently by each individual.
Over the ensuing days I thought about his question. Did others ever look at my life and declare it to be ‘abnormal?’
At the age of 15 I had battled against a malignant brain tumor, partial paralysis and double vision. At the age of 27 I nearly died from severe septicemia and had to have an emergency C-section. If I hadn’t nearly died, my son would have been born dead, because the cord was wrapped around his neck twice.
Now, at the age of 62, I had had chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery for rectal cancer. Pathology report revealed cancer involvement in ten lymph nodes, and scans later revealed two small cancerous spots in my liver.
Metastatic cancer, stage IV. My oncologist was very positive, assuring me that the intense six months of chemotherapy treatments and immunotherapy I would be receiving would do away with the cancer in the liver. She said if it returns, we will repeat the chemotherapy.
Could everything I had been through be considered ‘normal?’ I’ve learned some things from my current battle with cancer:
You must be a warrior when battling cancer and when in recovery. Like David going up against Goliath, you must take up your stones and slingshot, tell cancer Who is boss, and that He has delivered you in the past and will do so again. While recovering from my brain tumor, my friend Mary and I daily played the board game ‘The Game of Life.’ Life is so not a game! Life is a war and each day is a battle in which we must put on our armor and follow our Commander into the thick of things.
Cancer strips you of any pride you may have as your body is subjected to things like hair loss, weight loss and sometimes not feeling like ‘getting prettied-up’ with make-up. Most days you feel like a plucked chicken. Health care workers and family members sometimes see you without your clothes. Doctors investigate your body, medicines invade your body, and machines ‘attack’ your body. Pride? It’s gone!
Cancer strips you of independence. You spend years doing things for yourself and even by yourself, and then along comes cancer, that monster which refuses to let you do anything yourself. You learn dependence upon God first and others second. You are driven places, you hang onto others’ arms as you walk places, you are assisted with showers, and you learn that dependency invades every area of your life.
And what is a person to do? Give it all up to God and believe. Know that any strength you need will be provided by Him. Know that He is the Ultimate Healer and Provider and that He is walking with you in the fiery furnace. You may get burned by the radiation, but the flames of cancer cannot steal your soul!