As soon as I was diagnosed with cancer, I knew I never wanted to waste this experience.
Dr. Greg grabbed some paper and began drawing a diagram of what mantle cell lymphoma is and what it looks like. His explanation was a “foreign” language as he went on describing how there are mantle zones that surround our cells and “blah, blah, blah” and mine were cancerous. The drawings were helpful but regardless, my mind had been shot with a stun gun and I was stuck at stage IV cancer and it was called mantle cell lymphoma, a rare cancer and there is no cure.
But even in that paralyzing moment, my core stood fast in believing there was purpose in my cancer diagnose and purpose in all of this confusing information. The first test of purpose was my trust in God and could I, would I explicitly trust Him? My belief is God is sovereign and He is purposeful and trusting in who He says He is, PURPOSE became my foundation. Little did I realize the great deep and dimensional growth I was about to experience – those drawings and mantle zones have not been wasted but were building blocks to a richer and more meaningful relationship as my faith was tested and God showed Himself true.
Yesterday I was challenged with how far am I willing to go in continuing to remain involved in the cancer community which really is a world all in itself. Truly, I do not lightly follow the cancer blogs listed on my right side bar. I am invested in their journeys, both good news and bad. When the author doesn’t write an update after weeks from their last post, I wonder what has happened. Since following these blogs some authors were told by their medical team there is nothing more they can do and to go home, hospice is available when they are ready and that is the last I read of them. I am sad and I feel a sense of loss.
Weekly I hear of another person being diagnosed with cancer and I am sad that they and their loved ones are now traveling this bumpy road. This road includes a calendar filled with appointments; the onslaught of information and new terms and words never heard before; tests, tests, tests; awkward conversations with friends; finding the right doctor; where to be treated; second opinions; distancing friendships and new friendships; tears and more tears and decisions that feel uneducated and second guessed. I feel and empathize with their loss as they leave their familiar and controlled world behind and walk into this fast paced, anxiety-ridden, not knowing what is going to happen next world, a world that is out of their control.
Why do I remain in this often depressing sphere? I don’t need to do this. I can get out now, I am cancer free and I feel great. I can leave this miserable and often fatal world and get on with my life as a cancer free person forgetting what is behind me and look forward to what is ahead.
Yesterday I asked a question, is there a purpose for why I remain connected to and involved in this realm? Has God purposed me here? Do I have a role and a place even as a cancer free survivor? I don’t want to waste my cancer.
This Tuesday night, May 22nd, is the introductory meeting of F.A.I.T.H., Firm Anchor In The Hope, the first in this valley Christian cancer support group. The idea for a Biblically-based cancer support fellowship simmered for nearly three years. My friend Joyce, who is a breast cancer survivor and lost her sister to breast cancer, and I have talked about this need for a setting to discuss the spiritual side to cancer supported by the hope and encouragement in Jesus Christ and through the promise and comfort of Scripture. Through the culmination of separate events in our lives, we feel this support premise is needed more than ever before and now is the time to offer such a group.
I don’t want to waste my cancer and neither does Joyce.
In John Piper’s article, Don’t Waste Your Cancer, he states ten challenges. When I first read this article at the start of my cancer journey, a few points were convicting and even offended me. But in maturing through my experience, there is truth within each point.
- You will waste your cancer if you do not believe it is designed for you by God.
- You will waste your cancer if you believe it is a curse and not a gift.
- You will waste your cancer if you seek comfort from your odds rather than from God.
- You will waste your cancer if you refuse to think about death.
- You will waste your cancer if you think that “beating” cancer means staying alive rather than cherishing Christ.
- You will waste your cancer if you spend too much time reading about cancer and not enough time reading about God.
- You will waste your cancer if you let it drive you into solitude instead of deepen your relationships with manifest affection
- You will waste your cancer if you grieve as those who have no hope.
- You will waste your cancer if you treat sin as casually as before.
- You will waste your cancer if you fail to use it as a means of witness to the truth and glory of Christ.
Two points boldly stand out: You will waste your cancer if you grieve as those who have no hope and You will waste your cancer if you fail to use it as a means of witness to the truth and glory of Christ.
Yesterday I was challenged. Am I willing to continue to walk in this world alongside those who are presently coping with cancer? Am I willing to empathize and feel heart ache when the news is negative or terminal? Am I willing to feel loss?
Yes. The Bible pictures our eternal hope secure in God’s unchanging nature and promise as an anchor “for the soul, firm and secure.” (Heb. 6:19) I believe God’s purpose for me is to share there is hope in cancer found in the truth and glory of Christ.