This has been one of the biggest weeks I could imagine, and not at all for the reasons I expected.
As I said the other day I was praying and thinking a lot about canceling chemo. Thanks so much for the input and prayers about that decision. I finally know the answer but want to explain a little more background first…
First, the PET scan revealed that the important parts (the spread, especially the spine where chemo “could not” kill cancer) of the disease were gone, but there was still a small amount in my breast. It must be removed with surgery or by God just taking it out, because it’s wrapped in fibrous tissue and I can still feel that part of it there. happen to believe that cancer is gone by now too, but it’s not time for a biopsy or scan yet to prove that. So anyway, as soon as I heard that was still there I immediately “knew” God left it there so I would continue with treatment. I came to wonder about that later, but was extremely close to God when I thought that so I cannot believe it was wrong. At the most the idea would be that something changed since then and now was the time to stop.
The medical reason to keep up with chemo despite the fact that even the oncologist agreed I had a miraculous change is that once the cancer spreads it has loose cancer cells firing all around your body. It takes billions of cancer cells to show up on a PET scan, so there can be plenty of loose guys shooting around in there right now. The chemo gets as many of those as possible, but the reason the disease is terminal is that it cannot get them all. That’s where God comes in. I know He can get them all and in this particular case I am POSITIVE that by the end of treatment every one will be gone. I happen to believe they are ALREADY gone, which was the reason for even considering stopping chemo. I absolutely do see the point of taking care of my body which is God’s temple, but my temple was filled with aggressive cancer and the best earthly treatment for that is chemo. When Jesus went into the temple and saw disgusting things going on, He knocked the tables over–destroying the nonsense that didn’t belong.
So, did something noteworthy change? Not really. I got sicker from the cumulative effects of the chemo, which was the catalyst for making the decision, but I actually took issue with the idea of canceling treatment because there’s something innately wrong with chemo. My point of view is that God inspired doctors to create chemo and it has healed (I didn’t look up numbers) millions or billions. Cancer itself has increased but the drugs have indisputably improved treatment. Regardless of this though, my point was that even if the treatment was as inocuous as eating ice chips twice a week, I didn’t want to do what God didn’t want me to do. I absolutely trust God to heal my side effects if I’m supposed to continue, or to heal/prevent future cancer if I’m supposed to stop treatment. The real issue was figuring out what He wanted.
I will jump to the meat of the story: 1. I prayed and sought wise council who recommended that I get into agreement with Yaacov and prayed Eph 1:17, “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better.” 2. Yaacov and I both had peace about canceling chemo. I was ecstatic to finally do something bold for God. 3. I kept losing this peace, which does not line up God’s word. Psalm 4:8 is hanging by my bed and says, “I will lay down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” I kept waking up with less peace instead of more. Remember, I didn’t have concerns about how God would take care of me when I canceled. I had concerns that I wasn’t making the right choice. 4. All the verses I could think of and found were about trusting God, etc. but nothing really gave the direction to stop treatment. Instead I couldn’t resolve these: “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s” (as in, do what authority says), “To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law.” 1 Cor 9:20
Anyway, I had a check in my spirit because I still wanted “to know, know, know” that God wanted me to stop chemo before doing something with such dangerous outcomes. I wasn’t getting it but felt like maybe that was part of stepping out in faith. So, I canceled chemo and made an appointment to talk to Rassam. Yaacov couldn’t come with me so I was really nervous that Rassam would convince me to keep it up. He surprised me a lot by being very gentle. He said kindly, “You know I am a believer like you”. I respect your decision but I must tell you–you are WRONG.” He went on for awhile but that was important to me because the argument behind going against doctor’s orders would be that He isn’t listening to God, etc. Of course, the Holy Spirit can tell me different things than him, which is why it bothered me but not enough to change my mind. He ended up telling me that I could have as much as two weeks off before going back, but after that I can never get this treatment again. He also said it’s extremely common for people to get good results and stop treatment, but they always regret it. None of this scared me because I was aware of how crazy this idea seemed.
Basically, I kept praying and praying for confirmation but instead I got confirmation to keep up with the drugs. I had it so ingrained in my mind that He wanted me to stop though, that I kept thinking it was satan trying to confuse me. Finally, last night I went back to Yaacov, close to a nervous breakdown. At that point the only confirmation I had of doing the right thing was that my first step, which had been to ensure that Yaacov and I were on the same page, was still in tact. It turned out that we had been slightly misunderstanding each other (remember, he’s been traveling for weeks so many of our conversations were cut off). When we talked more and I clarified things, we both lost the feeling that God wanted us to stop. The second we switched to thinking of continuing with treatment we got the TOTAL, 100% true peace and joy. Let me tell you, this peace is nothing like the false peace I had before. I was so giddy I couldn’t sleep. The biggest thing is: I AM SO EXCITED TO GO BACK TO CHEMO! Who in the world is excited for chemo??!!?? ME! Because it’s what God wants, and I finally know, know, know, KNOW I’m doing the right thing. It feels so great.
Psalm 28:7, “The Lord is my strength and my shield; My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to Him in song.”
Some might notice that I’m not being sarcastic or sounding irritated with myself for taking so long to figure out what God wanted. It’s because it went down PERFECTLY and I believe God is actually well-pleased with me. I teared up when typing that line, because I can’t say I’ve thought that many times in my life. But Yaacov noticed something yesterday, and I didn’t understand what he meant until God showed me today: I believe that the fact that I was willing to cancel the chemo, and went as far as to go in there yesterday and start the process, was a HUGE step in my faith that pleased Him. And I believe that, like Abraham offering Isaac, the point was in the willingness, not actually doing it. Months ago I blogged and prayed a lot about being a “willing sacrifice” for Him. It was really hard for me then and I really never resolved it. So I don’t know if I missed a opportunity then, but I did it this time. It wasn’t with half a heart, like originally. This time, I understood the consequences and still canceled without waivering from the belief that God would take care of me. But He interrupted before it was too late. By no means am I as awesome as Abraham, but for Erin Petscher I’m doing okay.
Hebrews 11:17, “It was by faith that Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice when God was testing him. Abraham, who had received God’s promises, was ready to sacrifice his only son, Isaac.”