In October 2008 I received the news that I had breast cancer, or more precisely, Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. The pathology later showed a tumor slightly larger than they thought with “micro-mets” (microscopic metastasis or cancer cells) spilling into one lymph node or a Stage II breast cancer. Because I was pre-menopausal, the board at Women and Infants Hospital in Providence RI felt I should be treated aggressively. So began a journey into treatment; first lumpectomy with node dissection, then four rounds of chemo, THEN seven weeks of radiation treatments, totaling 33 trips to the table. Whew!
Now a little ways down the road with a full head of hair and feeling fairly normal, whatever that is, I’d like to turn and give back some of the bits of wisdom and scraps of knowledge I gained. Mostly I would like to show you God’s amazing provision in the hardest of times. As I look back I feel blessed. There is so much I would have never seen or learned had I not traveled this difficult path.
Interesting that this diagnosis came two months after the birth of my first grandchild, an event that sealed in my heart a desire to live, to be present on earth for this little girl, to leave a legacy. After losing my son in 2002 I spent several years pleading with God to take me home to heaven. Now I felt purpose. Then this? I was perplexed. So I whined and complained some more to my loving Father who patiently endures my simple mind.
Then I felt His firm but gentle rebuke, “Robin, you need to fight. I put my treasure in you and you are disregarding it.”
He led me to 2nd Corinthians 4:7, “However we possess this precious treasure (the divine Light of the Gospel) in (frail, human) vessels of earth that the grandeur and exceeding greatness of the power may be shown to be from God and not from ourselves.” The Amplified Bible. Ouch. OK, Lord, I get it.
My granddaughter, Brooklynn, is seven now. And her little sister, Olive Robin is five. May I stay ever humbled by the Grace that gives me each day and His strength that sustains me. I hope that some of these resources will sustain you in battle, comfort you in despair and lead you to hope and healing.
The Cancer Idol by Frederick Tamalgi
Suffering and the Sovereignty of God by John Piper, Justin Taylor/ general editors
Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back by Todd Burpo
Things Unseen: Living in Light of Forever by Mark Buchanan
A Path Through Suffering: Discovering the Relationship Between God’s Mercy and Our Pain by Elisabeth Elliot
**** Good testimonies, good spirit. Unfortunately they are in Florida but still some good support here.
**** Written about a pastor with brain cancer and obviously the Holy Ghost. I like this guy.
**** some favorites…
A Psalm of David.
1 The LORD is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
3 He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell[a] in the house of the LORD
New King James Version (NKJV)
21 This I recall to my mind,
Therefore I have hope.
22 Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
23 They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
24 “ The LORD is my portion,” says my soul,
“ Therefore I hope in Him!”
25 The LORD is good to those who wait for Him,
To the soul who seeks Him.
King James Version (KJV)
33These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
2 Corinthians 4:7
New Living Translation (NLT)
7 We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure.[a] This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.
2 Corinthians 5
The Message (MSG)
1-5For instance, we know that when these bodies of ours are taken down like tents and folded away, they will be replaced by resurrection bodies in heaven—God-made, not handmade—and we’ll never have to relocate our “tents” again. Sometimes we can hardly wait to move—and so we cry out in frustration. Compared to what’s coming, living conditions around here seem like a stopover in an unfurnished shack, and we’re tired of it! We’ve been given a glimpse of the real thing, our true home, our resurrection bodies! The Spirit of God whets our appetite by giving us a taste of what’s ahead. He puts a little of heaven in our hearts so that we’ll never settle for less.
6-8That’s why we live with such good cheer. You won’t see us drooping our heads or dragging our feet! Cramped conditions here don’t get us down. They only remind us of the spacious living conditions ahead. It’s what we trust in but don’t yet see that keeps us going. Do you suppose a few ruts in the road or rocks in the path are going to stop us? When the time comes, we’ll be plenty ready to exchange exile for homecoming.
9-10But neither exile nor homecoming is the main thing. Cheerfully pleasing God is the main thing, and that’s what we aim to do, regardless of our conditions. Sooner or later we’ll all have to face God, regardless of our conditions. We will appear before Christ and take what’s coming to us as a result of our actions, either good or bad. 2nd Corinthians 5:1-10 The Message