Sunday, July 19, 2015

When the Diagnosis is Cancer

Recently I was diagnosed with cancer. Up until that moment, it was always the other person’s life experience and not my own. I have not been writing new material in The Quiet Place while I have sought treatment and undergone surgery. The thoughts shared here relate to what I have found to be meaningful and helpful when the diagnosis is cancer. 


The paralyzing grip of the phrase “You have cancer,” can render you powerless, and it can take away whatever reasonable control that you thought that you had in your life. Hearing such a statement will literally stop time, suck all of the oxygen out of the room, and leave you feeling stunned and transparently vulnerable.

You prefer the doctor to use another phrase, like, “You are fat, you need to slow down, or your blood pressure is too high.” The examination room falls into an uncomfortable silence, and you realize that he is waiting for you to absorb the full weight of what he has just said to you. 

The Uncertain Pathway of Change

He begins to speak and you see his mouth moving…forming words and giving you information, but it sounds like he is speaking underwater, and you think you understand what he is saying but only a few statements make it through the haze in your mind like, "...More tests.…oncologist…surgery…urgency…other options…” 

On a Personal Pilgrimage

When my doctor read the report to me and said, “It is in a very advanced stage right now. If we act immediately, we can attempt to get it all, or at least stop it from metastasizing throughout your body” it was surreal.
Life changed for me at that moment, and I realized that I was standing at a crossroad. The oncologist had not minced words. "Do this or the outcome will be terminal." I had decisions to make that would impact my family in immeasurable ways. I never thought that I would ever be diagnosed with cancer. 

The reality of unplanned Change

Cancer forces an uninitiated change into your life that you have no control over. Life becomes inescapably different now. An unspoken grieving begins to season your life, and time is now segmented into days and hours rather than months and years.

Holding on to the Essentials

Maintain your daily Walk with God

Time spent in The Quiet Place, seeking God and worshiping Him, will have established a solid Biblical foundation upon which to draw, as promises and truths become more real and precious. Prayer for healing can become the primary focus during this time, while He is desiring that we…draw near…find stillness, and the silent awareness of His presence and experience His comfort.

Family: The Shared Pilgrimage

It is hard to reach out during this time, as all of your energies are focused upon just surviving the treatments, and trying to get some measure of your health and stamina back. Unrelenting fatigue becomes your constant companion now, and it cloaks your steps like a shadow. However, it is important to not become self-absorbed, but rather do what you can to let them know how important they are to you. 

Remember that those closest to you are frightened, and may not tell you. A pervasive ever present grief can feel overwhelming as they go through your cancer treatments with you.

Monitor Negative Thinking

·  Understand that regrets about the past that you cannot change will become more pronounced. You will also drift to feelings of remorse regarding unattainable future dreams that you had for your life. There may also be an obsessive focus on the uncertain outcomes ahead, or your own death. It is important to process each of these, but always remember that while past memories are vivid and real, you cannot live in them, nor can your focus be upon that which is unknown regarding the future.

  Be Present in the Presence of God

Staying in the present takes discipline and focus. It is the only moment that is available to us. Begin to work on recovering, helping your body function in a healthy way, staying positive about recovery and be hopeful regarding possible remission. Your body will need critical resources to fight for your life that are difficult to access, due to the treatment and or heavy medications that you and taking. 

There are times when there are not any words that can express what you are going through in life. God does not need our words, as He can read our hearts. Worship God in those moments when you are all alone. He desires us to draw near to Him and just be real about our fears, our concerns, and our burdens. 

“You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.” Psalm 32:7

God desires us to kneel in His presence and just …Be…

“He said, "My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest." Ex. 33:14

God wants each of us to discover that precious place in prayer where there is nowhere else we would rather be than being present in His presence.

"Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love.” John 15:9

The word abide is a verb requiring action on our part.

“A primary verb; to stay (in a given place, state, relation or expectancy) abide, continue, dwell, endure, be present, remain, tarry.” Strong’s Concordance

When the diagnosis is cancer, God invites us to Be present in His love. Whatever else is happening, always remember that nothing can take you out of the love of God. 

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Rom. 8:38-39

Take a moment and listen to this beautiful rendition of Be Still my Soul" by Kari Jobe 

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