Philippians 4:4-7, "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Those are such powerful words!
I can't believe that on Saturday, it will be exactly one year from that terrible day--the day I first saw the massive amounts of cancer in my body via ultrasound. God has literally carried me through this past year. Enduring a year of cancer treatment shouldn't feel this easy--but it really has, thanks to God's strength. You see, in my weakness, God's strength was made perfect and evident.
At the beginning of my cancer journey, a pastor at my church recommended a perfect book by John Piper. The book is called, "Don't Waste Your Cancer." Below are some key points from it that I would like to share.
1. You will waste your cancer if you do not believe it is designed for you by God. What God permits, he permits for a reason. And that reason is his design. If God foresees molecular developments becoming cancer, he can stop it or not. If he does not, he has a purpose.
2. You will waste your cancer if you believe it is a curse and not a gift. (But in his beloved children, our Father works a most kind good through our most grievous losses: sometimes healing and restoring the body (temporarily, until the resurrection of the dead to eternal life), always sustaining and teaching us that we might know and love him more simply. --David Powlison, of the Christian Counseling and Education Foundation, added some helpful expansions to John Piper’s ten points after he was diagnosed with prostate cancer.)
3. You will waste your cancer if you seek comfort from your odds rather than from God. The design of God in your cancer is not to train you in the rationalistic, human calculation of odds. The world gets comfort from their odds. Not Christians. Some count their chariots (percentages of survival) and some count their horses (side effects of treatment), but we trust in the name of the Lord our God (Psalm 20:7).
4. You will waste your cancer if you refuse to think about death. Psalm 90:12 says, “Teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” Numbering your days means thinking about how few there are and that they will end. How will you get a heart of wisdom if you refuse to think about this? What a waste, if we do not think about death.
5. You will waste your cancer if you think that “beating” cancer means staying alive rather than cherishing Christ. Satan designs to destroy your love for Christ. God designs to deepen your love for Christ. Cancer does not win if you die. It wins if you fail to cherish Christ.
6. You will waste your cancer if you spend too much time reading about cancer and not enough time reading about God. What a waste of cancer if we read day and night about cancer and not about God.
7. You will waste your cancer if you let it drive you into solitude instead of deepen your relationships with manifest affection. (As David Powlison added, "A great, life-threatening weakness can prove amazingly freeing. Nothing is left for you to do except to be loved by God and others, and to love God and others.")
8. You will waste your cancer if you grieve as those who have no hope.
9. You will waste your cancer if you treat sin as casually as before.
10. You will waste your cancer if you fail to use it as a means of witness to the truth and glory of Christ.
I am so thankful that this book was recommended to me. I am so glad that I read these key points at the beginning of this journey. My hope is that I have not wasted this past year of cancer. I pray that, as a survivor, I remember all of the details of this past year of cancer. God's design was that I would learn from the experience and that He be glorified in it. And, you want to know something awesome? God's design was also that I be healed from cancer. My PET scan on Friday was 100% NORMAL! It just looked like the scan of any other healthy female in her 30's (well, one that had just had surgery for the removal of an infected implant just two weeks before, but still)! Praise the Lord!
I believe the risk of recurrence is pretty high, so I will continue to pray that God keeps me well. My next appointment with my oncologist will be in mid-October, and I am sure she can share with me what the % chance is that the cancer will come back. But, remember #3 in the list above? My "odds" of beating the cancer in the first place were not good. But, it is not something I ever focused on--because God doesn't deal in statistics. I knew all along that He could choose to heal me, or not, but either way He would be glorified. God designed this year of cancer for me and He has designed the healing for me.
I just visited my plastic surgeon today for a post-emergency surgery visit. He removed my stitches, looked me over, said everything looked to be healing really well and removed all restrictions. I can get back to normal. Suddenly, a switch has turned me from "cancer patient Heather" to "normal Heather." I have forgotten what "normal" is like but am SO excited to begin a new normal! I can do aerobic exercise now. I can hold my little girl again. I can run errands and have adventures outside our home with both kids during the day(since I can lift Abbey in and out of her car seat now). I am looking forward to getting out of the house with my children, and exploring God's beautiful creation with them. I am just so thankful that God has given me these days to teach my children about Him--I am not going to waste these days He has gifted me. Thank you, Lord, for the gift of Life!