The Solid Mass
The Lord will give strength to His people; the Lord will bless His people with peace.– Psalm 29:11 NKJV
Dr. Foster removed her gloves and pushed her stool back. She wasn’t smiling. “You have a solid mass in your right breast. You can come back tomorrow for a biopsy, or you can wait until Tuesday.”
I could barely swallow. “I’ll come tomorrow.” It was Thursday, and I certainly didn’t want to wait five days. My husband, Rick, was out of town on business, and although I preferred he be with me, the procedure needed to be done. Now.
Stunned, I walked to my car. Rick worked nights and would be sleeping, phone off. Who to call? Cookie. She worked at the same hospital and was aware of my appointment that day.
Cookie’s phone rang several times before my call rolled into voicemail. “Hey, Cookie. It doesn’t look good. I’m having a biopsy tomorrow. Give me a call.”
When I got home, I did what no one should do. I searched the Internet for ultrasound images of malignant breast tumors. The images looked just like mine.
When I told Rick and a few friends, they assured me it was nothing.
I knew it was something.
Later that evening, I described to Cookie what the image looked like.
“Hmm,” she said. “We’ll pray it’s something else.” The tone of her voice told me she knew too.
I prayed hard. “Please, Lord. Please don’t let this be cancer. Please, please.”
Despite my fear, the Lord gave me peace. Sweet peace only He can give. Peace that surpasses all understanding. Peace that says, “Trust Me.”
The Biopsy Results
For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion; in the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me; He shall set me high upon a rock. – Psalm 27:5 NKJV
I tapped my foot. What was taking so long? Rick and I had been sitting in the waiting room for at least ten minutes. Did anyone care I was here for biopsy results? Where was the sense of urgency?
Rick was a rock. He sat, legs crossed, calmly reading a magazine. He occasionally glanced up to share some interesting tidbit.
He was sure I was okay.
I was sure I was not.
“Please God, help me.”
After what felt like hours, we were ushered into Dr. Foster’s office.
A few minutes later, Dr. Foster entered. Her face was grim. “Well, it’s cancer.” Her voice was gentle. Caring. Compassionate.
If I looked at Rick, I’d lose my composure. “What stage is it?”
“We won’t know until after surgery,” she said. “Do you have a surgeon?”
“A friend recommended Dr. Griffin.” Cookie and I talked a number of times over the weekend, and she was well acquainted with this surgeon’s work.
The doctor smiled. “Good choice. Dr. Griffin will want you to have a breast MRI before surgery. I’ll have my nurse, Pam, schedule that for you.”
I glanced at Rick the Rock.
His face was flushed, and he didn’t look as relaxed as the guy in the waiting room.
After answering our questions, Dr. Foster said goodbye, leaving us alone to wait for Pam.
I turned to Rick. “Well?” My eyes burned.
He held my hand. “It’ll be okay.”
Pam scheduled the breast MRI for two days later and then led us across the hall to the surgeon’s office.
The receptionist scheduled an appointment with Dr. Griffin for eight days later.
In the hallway, Pam hugged me, then Rick. “That’s it for now.”
We thanked her and walked toward the elevator.
Cancer. I had cancer. Burning eyes spilled tears. Please God, help me.
The Walk through Cancer
“Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.” – Deuteronomy 31:6 NKJV
The next few weeks were a flurry of activity. Two days after my diagnosis, I had a breast MRI. Six days after that, I met with my surgeon. A week later, a lumpectomy and the removal of eighteen lymph nodes. One lymph node had cancer, which meant I was destined for chemotherapy.
After an appointment with my oncologist, I had bone and CT scans to see if the cancer had spread. Thank God, it had not. I was then scheduled for sixteen chemotherapy and thirty-seven radiation treatments.
After my first chemotherapy treatment, I threw up for three days. Lord, I can’t do this. But I did. By the grace of God, I got through all sixteen chemotherapy and thirty-seven radiation treatments. Ten months after my diagnosis, I finished treatment and was cancer-free.
Joy in the Morning
For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. – Psalm 30:5 NKJV
God used my cancer to change my life. A week after my first chemotherapy treatment, I sensed His call to cancer ministry. Six months later, in the middle of my own treatment, I started a women’s cancer support group. Two years after that, I launched Hope for the Valley (hopeforthevalley.com), a website of daily devotions and prayers for women with cancer. Hope for the Valley led to the recent publication of In the Midst of the Valley: Hope for Your Cancer Journey, a book of ninety devotions for women facing cancer.
Prior to cancer, I never would have dreamt God would use me this way. Weeping may endure for a night, but joy truly does come in the morning.
J.K. Stewart is a breast cancer survivor, writer, and follower of Jesus Christ. She lives in Texas with her husband of twenty years, her overly active Australian Shepherd, and her five unruly cats. www. hopeforthevalley.com
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