Today, I hit another milestone in my health journey: seven years cancer free! While many people may not think that’s anything too exciting, for me it’s huge.
You see, I never expected to ever get cancer. Cancer doesn’t run in my family, I was a young wife with an infant son, and I felt healthy. Sure, my stomach hurt a lot, but it had been that way for about a decade so it was nothing I wasn’t accustomed to working around. But when you hear those words “they’ve found cancer”, your whole life changes.
While that day seven years ago seems so fresh in my mind (I can still see the look of disbelief on my doctor’s face and hear the terror in his voice), it also seems so far away, almost like it never happened. Almost.
I was such a different person back then. My family was different. My friends were different. My priorities were different. Most importantly, my relationship with God was different.
Seven years ago, spending time with God was a once a day thing for me, first thing in the morning. Once I checked Him off of my to-do list, I could choose to live my life however I wanted for the other 23 hours and 30 minutes each day. I read the words in my Bible, I prayed the prayers each morning, and then I went along on my merry way.
I’m so glad I’m not that person anymore.
In the past seven years, not only has God healed me physically from stage 3 colon cancer, He has healed me spiritually from my indifference. He’s made me see that spending time with Him throughout each day is the only way to truly know Him and live for Him. And keeping what I’m learning about Him to myself is purely cowardice and selfish. I’ve learned that He has allowed me to go through struggles of various kinds so that I can help others in their times of need. I’ve been able to reach out to people with cancer, families who have experienced miscarriages, individuals struggling with depression, and those who struggle with loneliness, doubts, and fears…simply by sharing my story.
This past weekend, I had the privilege of attending a “Women of Joy” conference with my aunt and cousin. We registered for this conference last June when I was really struggling in my life. When I picked my word/theme for the year to be “rooted” in Christ, I had no idea (or had at least forgotten) that the theme of this conference was “Deeply Rooted”. While I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the conference (and even picked up some sweet swag), I came away feeling….eh. I have attended conferences in the past where I come away with a spiritual high on that spiritual mountaintop, excited to tell anyone and everyone I see about what I learned. But not this time. The speakers and worship leaders kept reiterating how important it is to be deeply rooted in Christ. But this was nothing new to me. I realized that this (being deeply rooted) is something I have been working for and striving toward for a while now.
The only way to be deeply rooted is to be in the Word daily. It means studying the Word, not just reading it. It means actively seeking God’s will through prayer, Bible study, and fellowship with others. It means not repeating the same prayer day after day but truly pouring our hearts out to God and humbling ourselves before His feet. It’s something that happens EVERY day, all throughout the day, not just first thing in the morning or the last thing at night. It means pleading with Him for comfort, relief, joy, and peace. It means walking through the hard times, knowing that God is the one giving you the strength to endure and take the next step and then the next step.
Seven years ago, my motivation to fight for my life was my husband and seven-month old son. While they are still priceless blessings in my life, my motivation to live is to live for Christ. I can boldly stand with Paul and say “for me to live is Christ and to die is gain.”
Life is hard, friends. Seven years ago, my life headed down a path that I had no intention of ever walking. But I’m so thankful God guided me, putting people in my life at the right time for the right reason.
Cancer is no joke. No matter which “stage” you experience, there are always times when you feel like giving up; times when you cry out to God and ask “why me”; times when you throw up your fists and shout “it’s not fair; it’s not supposed to be this way”. Over the past seven years, I’ve learned that if I give my struggles and infirmities to Him daily, He IS there. He DOES care. And His reason is perfect.
It’s seven years later and I’m still dealing daily with side effects from cancer. It’s probably something I’ll deal with until Jesus comes back or calls me home. But instead of viewing these issues as “struggles”, I’m choosing to view them as blessings and to take my experiences and share them with others in the hopes of offering them comfort.
So, friends, here’s to another year of being cancer free. Here’s to another year of growing deeper in Christ through the various trials of life, in the hopes of bringing Him glory and comforting others.
Seven years disease free and more deeply rooted!