Trials of Terror

You might have seen that I dared to post good news about the Good News of Jesus on Wednesday. I spent a few minutes extolling the Lord and some of the great things He has done in supernaturally healing me of incurable cancer. So, of course, the following day it looked like everything had changed…

I went to my routine bi-annual appointment with Dr. Crooms, my awesome surgeon. I would remind you how completely amazing he is, but the best nurse in the world, Nurse Karen, asked that I stop advertising for them–the list of patients waiting to get in with him is just too long! Anyway, I had a lump of scar tissue that Dr. Rassam hasn’t been concerned about, but Dr. Crooms was interested in it and wanted a closer look. He gave me an ultrasound then had me come back today for a biopsy. 

I don’t know if this event arose from some sort of interchange between the devil and the Lord,  like what happened in Job. Maybe God wanted me to see what I would do in a situation like this. Either way, I’ve entitled it, “Trial of Terror: Will They or Won’t They?” Because it was so clear that it was an opportunity to put our money where our mouths were–would we allow terror to set in, and embrace the panic of having the cancer return (or another cancer discovered)? Or would we stand firm in the faith of who God is? Yaacov told me a few times that it was our chance for a do-over from how we handled cancer the first time around. To which I (obviously) thought, “But I rocked the first diagnosis, no need for a do-over…”

But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. 2 Cor 11:13

I think most cancer survivors have a bit of PTSD related to their diagnosis, and in my case, sometimes my world sort of revolves around the fact that God healed me of it when there was nothing else men could do to help me. Not only do I remember every detail of my original diagnosis, but so much of it was the same yesterday. He used the same ultrasound machine and gave me the same news, “I can do a biopsy today and get the permanent section results back in a few days, or you can come back in the morning and we could get the preliminary results in an hour”. This is because it was after business hours both times he decided to give me a biopsy. The first time around we got a false negative result with the preliminary, frozen section, yet I went for that option again this time.

God gives me so much freedom that I could have reacted the same way I did three years ago and it would have been okay. Back then I clung to Jesus but was simultaneously completely panicked. My inner voice spoke as loudly and quickly as the real people I spoke to, resulting in an influx of turmoil and stress. My mind jumped rapidly between “what ifs”, self-pity, and planning for the future. This time, though, my faith is stronger. Peace is more thorough, my foundation sturdier. This time, my heart didn’t even skip a beat. God helped me control my thinking, and I slept soundly. He assured me that what He does is complete, nothing can be added or taken from it (Ecc 3:14). More importantly, He reminded me that I honestly prefer His plan to my own, and He will carry me wherever I need to go. There’s no room for self-pity or doubts in the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 12:20 Or how can someone enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? Then indeed he may plunder his house.

We have total peace in God’s plan and I am certain that I am cancer-free. But mostly, I am encouraged to be able to see some of the tangible growth that both Yaacov and I have made in our walks with Christ over the past few years. The biopsy experiences were so similar they were like pre- and post- tests. Hopefully our scores improved! I had a pretty strong faith and a perfectly healthy, easy life at the time of the pre-test. But I am so grateful that in His sovereignty He had bigger plans for me–an intervention! He pre-planned the journey to make me a better person by teaching me about fear, healing, faith, prayer, compassion, perseverance, and love. He used suffering to enlighten me and I wouldn’t reject that blessing if given the choice.

The frozen section biopsy came back negative, like we expected. We should get the permanent section results early next week. 

For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. Romans 11:36

UPDATE: The permanent section biopsy came back negative, too! We are so thankful to this God we serve, through whom all things are possible!


More answers to prayer

I’ve been healed for so long now that cancer is no longer a conscious part of each day. I remember before I was healed, recognizing how many people can’t get “past” it. I saw how it really is impossible to not fear future recurrences, an underlying condition that might cause an ache or pain, or to blame all your problems on the trauma they went through with it. And that was just for people without a terminal diagnosis. For those of us with incurable cancer, just the physical healing is an intangible pipe dream, so we are more willing to leverage the standard of perfect future health with just not dying from the cancer. But there is one who has a long history of delivering His people. He breaks the ties we have to fear, physical and emotional diseases, and to all sin.

I have been cancer free for more than three years now. No one had any expectation of that except God and some of His faithful followers. There was no reason to hope for such a thing, other than for the hope we have in our Savior, who died for my own sins, and is able to do more than we could ever imagine (Eph 3:20). He did it. To Him be the glory! No matter how great doctors, medicine, and people are, their value could never compare to the One who “gives more grace” (James 4:6).

I saw Dr. Rassam on Monday, and he gave me the great news that he wants to take me off Xgeva, a bone density shot that I have received for the past 36 months. The drug doesn’t have longterm studies for people like me because…people like me aren’t supposed to be cancer-free. So, every month I’ve spent 1-2 hours, kids in tow, getting bloodwork taken, waiting on results, then getting the shot. He always told me I’d be on it forever, and it didn’t occur to me until this week to pray to get off it. Within minutes of that prayer I found myself in his office, and he told me he wants to confirm with a bone scan (not until September), and then I’ll go off that drug!

When we were praying for the first clear PET scans, I prayed specifically to be told one day that I have “no evidence of disease”. I got the clear scan, which was better, but those weren’t words I heard. For three years there have been no setbacks, no substantial hints of a problem. I forgot that prayer, because of the truth that there was no evidence. But on Monday as I was leaving, Dr. Rassam had a talk with the chemo nurse about stopping the Xgeva. That’s when I heard those words I longed for–“She has no evidence of disease…there has been no evidence for several years…”. Nothing could compare to the first time he told me I was healed, but it was an unexpected treasure to hear those words, and to remember the urgency with which I prayed it three years ago. His timing is perfect, His memory awesome. I was extraordinarily blessed by not having to wait the three years to be healed–I’ve been healthy for longer than I ever could deserve. But it’s still a great reminder that He hears our prayers and He does answer. His timing is always better than ours. His word is true, the promises real, His love is thorough.