Shades of Cancer

One of the most surprising aspects of surviving cancer was that once it was all over, it wasn’t really all over.  Shades and shadows of cancer remained with me long after the cancer itself was gone.

I was euphoric for the first couple months after completing my treatments.  I had survived, and I started to feel physically and emotionally “normal.”  Not only was I eager to resume life, but I had new determination to make the most of my remaining years.

Cancer’s Kick in the Pants

The “red” danger sign of cancer had morphed into a more positive and motivating “red bull” of energy.  I decided to go back to school, a choice that has greatly enriched my life and one that I might not have made without cancer’s kick in the pants.

But the shades of cancer were not all positive.

The Ghost of Cancer.

After the initial relief wore off, I recognized a new and unsettling shadow of cancer: the risk of recurrence.  I had not dared to even contemplate such a thing during the fight.  The objective of the fight was clear and focused: get rid of every cancer cell in my body.  God, medical professionals, technology, and loving support helped me to endure toward that goal.

Later, however, after the adrenaline of the focused fight subsided I was spooked by vague fear.  Every new ache, pain, or twinge conjured up the ghost of cancer past.  Should I get that checked?  Is it cause for concern?  One of my doctors, a cancer survivor herself, said life after cancer was like living in a haunted house.  Absolutely true.

Peace in Surrender

One night, almost a year after cancer, I was particularly spooked.  I wrestled with God for hours, asking him for assurance that I would never have to face cancer again.  He did not give it to me.  I felt like Jacob.  Finally, I prayed with the words of Philippians 4:6-7, “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.”

What I really needed was peace, deliverance from the anxiety that was haunting me.  I was not confronting cancer anymore; I was facing the formidable foe of fear.

Image source: Under HIS Wings: Raising the White Flag of Surrender: A Prayer by Betty Scott

“God, I asked,  you don’t really mean ANYTHING, do you? Cancer is a pretty big deal.”  He assured me that he really means it.  We should not be anxious about ANYTHING.  Even cancer.

At that moment, I surrendered.  Even if the worst happened, I would trust my Savior.

I found peace in surrender.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  John 16:33

8 thoughts on “Shades of Cancer

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  1. Hi Judy. I’ve heard that from others, but “living in a haunted house” is a particularly excellent metaphor. Not to diminish the seriousness of cancer, nor the fear of recurrence–however, I think that fear translates to any illness which has kept us captive. Having struggled with depression most of my life, I recall that the “remissions” were difficult to fully enjoy, as I feared the next onslaught. I now believe God has delivered/healed me–and it’s a faith journey, being certain of what I hope but can’t “see”/know. The surrender part came when I made the decision that suicide was not an option–this was bold, and required 100% faith in God, as I realized any and all strength/courage/determination I have lies solely in Him.

    I celebrate the fact that you have survived cancer, that you are here with us to share encouragement and thought-provoking posts. God bless you abundantly–love, Caddo

    1. And I celebrate your deliverance from depression, in some ways a more challenging illness. Your joy is now evident and infectious! Praise God and may he continue to bless you mightily, Caddo!

  2. Beautiful post, Judy. I have seen cancer affect so many people’s lives. My father-in-law has cancer and his sister just found out she has cancer, too. Thank you for being so real and genuine as you described the thoughts and emotions you experienced during your trial with cancer. I was diagnosed with a liver disease called Autoimmune Hepatitis. I look back at the time I was in the hospital and see how my relationship became very intimate with God. Doctors couldn’t give me the answers I craved so all I could do was rely on my Savior to get me through the difficult time. Thank you for posting this blog entry. May you continue to trust God no matter what you face in life.

    1. Thanks Danielle. I’m sorry to hear of your family members facing cancer. I pray for their healing, and I’ll echo your thought for us all to continue to trust our Lord in all circumstances. Have a great weekend!

  3. I can relate Judy! After my stroke and brain surgery….I came home feeling like I could do anything since God had restored me from near death….once settled in though, every sneeze and cough, scared me….a normal run-of-the-mill headache panicked me. It has taken a few years…but I’ve learned to trust God and I decided…if he decided to save and restore me…..why should these little things be a problem…. surrendering is a great thing isn’t it?

    1. Wow – that sounds like quite an experience! I suppose our struggles with the ghosts of crises past are not unusual. After a health challenge like a stroke or cancer all illustions of invulnerability (it won’t happen to me) are shattered, and fear easily creeps in. Yes, surrendering is a wonderful thing, for we know how fragile our lives are. Thank God we are in His good, powerful and loving hands! Thank you so much for your comment and praise God for your restored life!

  4. “…Do not be anxious about anything…”

    Most of us struggle with this verse and suffer a case of “Yeah, but..,” when we try to apply it to our own lives. At least for me, it is always a wrestling match until I finally surrender to the Lord and receive His peace.

    This article and your other article on cancer are great testimonies. Thanks for posting them.

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