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.
“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