Cancer isn’t a choice, really. Sure, we can smoke cigarettes and not shake our head in wonderment if we get lung cancer. But for the most part, cancer just happens. And when it does, it can wreak havoc on a person and a family. And, sadly, it destroys the spirits of many, many formerly strong and fortified people.
But it doesn’t destroy all people.
It makes some stronger.
I’ve met numerous cancer survivors and people who have received a terminal diagnosis over the past few months, and some of them literally blow me away with the incredibly positive transformations they’ve gone through because of their cancers and illnesses. They’ve become more introspective, deeply aware of their intentions and bodies, they’ve become more forgiving, more tender, more intuitive, spiritually open and longing for God, and keenly adept at doling out compassion that is just not, well, human…it’s supernatural. It’s staggering the amount of goodness that pours out of them.
My mom is one of these people. I’ve watched her change from a strong, healthy, energetic, rarely-gets- a-cold, never-sits-down, kind of woman to someone who struggles just to stand up, even with her walker and the help of my dad. She now becomes out of breath walking up just one stair and is wiped out after doing 2 minutes of upper-body physical therapy. Her life has changed completely, almost overnight; she’s gone through brain surgery, a couple of hospital visits – one that resulted in a 15-minute seizure from which she’s never recovered, she can’t do much of anything for herself. She’s flat-out been changed in ways that would reduce a seasoned superhero to a crying baby.
But to my amazement all of her pain and handicap are accompanied by this clarity, beauty, wisdom, simplicity, and I-don’t-have-time-to-be-anything-but-awesome. Her faith is unwavering and she hasn’t had a single moment of fear. Not a single moment. She has this peace and inner glow that are blinding. I can’t describe it any better than that. I’ve never known this woman before. Or maybe she was there all along and was simply covered up by normalcy and comfort. Maybe all of this was lying dormant until such a time as now.
This is a woman whose doctors have told her she probably has less than 6 months to live, and she’s quoting scripture about how God’s work for her isn’t done yet. She still wants to preach His word.
Mindboggling, isn’t it?
Or maybe it’s just God’s supernatural blessing upon her. Maybe it’s the result of 37 years of memorizing scripture, countless hours of prayer, bible study, and trial after trial of God’s faithful provision for her and my dad.
Maybe her soul is at perfect peace because she knows where she’s going….and either way, if she lives or dies, she wins.
All I know is when I dash up the stairs to grab an item I forgot, I’m more thankful with each step I take. I’m humbled by her example. And I’m inspired to look beyond my petty focus and reach for the deeper things in life, the things that last forever.
So, based on my mom’s path with her brain cancer and meeting many other people in her exact health situation, here’s my layman’s view of the choices we have when we get the diagnosis of C.A.N.C.E.R.
We can see it as a CURSE. Or we can allow it to grow our COMPASSION.
We can become APATHETIC or……. we can let it grow our AWARENESS.
We can focus on what we’ll NEVER do…..what we can do NOW.
It can be our CATASTROPHE or………a catalyst for positive CHANGE.
We can be swallowed by EMPTINESS or…we can become ENGAGED
We can offer our RESIGNATION or….
we can go through the fire or REFINEMENT.
Cancer or not, the choice of how to respond to these situations can be a painful process…but is always ours.
“For God causes all things to work together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28. All things. Even brain cancer.