My wife found out she had uterine cancer a month or so ago. No one was able to provide much information about the extent of it at the time. She had surgery last Monday the 14th, and went for a follow up visit yesterday. The surgery was rather extensive; all the reproductive organs plus some surrounding lymph nodes for evaluation. The surgeon said at the time nothing was noticeable to the ‘naked eye’, but we needed to wait for the pathology report. The news came yesterday; she has Stage 3 cancer of the uterus. The cancer was found in the lymph nodes, and so further treatment would be necessary. She’ll require both radiation and chemotherapy over the next few months.
We’d hoped to hear the cancer was contained within the uterus and the surgery took care of the problem, but that’s not what we heard. We’re about to walk down a very hard road; thank God we can do it together. Thank God my cancer treatment ended several months ago and I’m able to help care for her. (As a side note, I’m always amazed at God’s timing; we need to always trust it) And thank God we don’t have to make that trip by ourselves. He’ll be right there with us, every step of the way.
This has been a difficult year. First, I was struggling to reach the end of my cancer treatment which started a year and a half before. Then my Mom who lived with us for fifteen years grew weaker and her dementia got worse, necessitating admission to a nursing home, followed immediately by the pandemic lockdown. Spring dragged into summer and we couldn’t visit her except by occasional phone call, which was heart-rending due to her dementia. Then in July hospice began to see her, which finally allowed us to visit her in her last few days. Shortly after her death my wife started having problems with bleeding and vaginal drainage, which led to a D & C that revealed her cancer. While waiting for her surgery we both ended up testing positive for Covid; our quarantine ended the day after Thanksgiving. She finally made it to her surgery, and now here we are.
Had it not been for our faith in God and Jesus Christ, this would have most likely destroyed us. As it is, we’re both justifiably scared and anxious about what’s to come. My own cancer experience was never as nerve-wracking to me as this, because this time I feel I have so much more to lose. My wife is the dearest thing to me on this earth. In the almost 45 years we’ve been married, she’s been my lover, my partner, my much ‘better half’, my best friend, and my stabilizing influence, helping me to become a much better man than I would ever have been without her. It hurts me to think of her having to do this, much more than my own cancer treatment. Even though my brain tells me this is necessary, my heart wishes I could do it for her.
But go back to the first line of the last paragraph. Because that’s where our strength, our confidence, our hope is found. That’s where Rita and I stand. It’s solid ground, the most solid we could possibly have. We belong to One who has told us to cast all our cares on him, who promises to always be with us and will never leave us. A God whose word as written in the Bible holds promises to those He calls his chosen. A God who never fails His own, despite what the world may think.
He is a God who has given His chosen ones rock-solid promises upon which to stand:
Hebrews 13:5–6 (CSB)
“Keep your life free from the love of money. Be satisfied with what you have, for he himself has said, I will never leave you or abandon you. Therefore, we may boldly say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?'”
Romans 8:28, 31-32 (CSB)
“We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose…What, then, are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He did not even spare his own Son but gave him up for us all. How will he not also with him grant us everything?”
Romans 8:37–39 (CSB)
“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors (emphasis mine) through him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
And then one of my personal foundational verses:
2 Corinthians 4:16–18 (CSB)
“Therefore we do not give up. Even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day. For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory. So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
This just scratches the surface of the promises of God that are found in the Bible. It may seem incredible to think something like cancer can be considered a “light and momentary affliction”, and that even in the midst of such a life-shaking event we can consider ourselves ‘more than conquerors’. But when we are in Christ we enjoy the promises of the One who said, “I will never leave you or abandon you”. God doesn’t walk away; only we do. But if we abide in him and with him we have access to all of his power, all of his love, and all of his grace. We have already won, no matter what happens to us. If we live, we live to glorify and praise him. If we die, we live to glorify and praise him for eternity, with no more pain, no more tears, no more separation. Our physical challenges make our spirits stronger because they draw us closer to the only One who can sustain us.
Those who don’t know God or haven’t surrendered their lives to Jesus Christ have no hope. The harsh truth is we live in a world engulfed with sin, disease, and death. We are all born into it, are subject to it, and eventually fall prey to it. None of us will get out of this life alive. So it shouldn’t be surprising that even supposedly “good” people sometimes get cancer, Covid, or other life-threatening diseases and may even die from them. It’s the consequence of being human. The important thing is not what happens to us but what we do with the experience. An “I got this” mentality will ultimately fail. We can’t possibly summon enough of our own strength to conquer our worst challenges. But if we are wholly surrendered to Christ, we have a strength and foundation upon which to stand that will overcome all trials and struggles we may face. In the end, we don’t even need to fear death; it is simply a transition to the place our hearts desired to be, in the presence of God for eternity.