Diagnosed with cancer? We often ask ourselves, “Why”

I was diagnosed with breast cancer, August of 2010; and since it it Breast Cancer Awareness month, it is heavy upon my chest – to write, (forgive the pun).

Don’t we often read that it’s healthiest for a mother to breast feed her baby because it lowers her risk for breast cancer by 10%? I nursed 11 babies. Weren’t my chances of getting breast cancer minus 10%?

Well, despite the statistics, I must tell you, my Father thought best to allow me to be diagnosed with cancer. And one of the first thoughts that went through my brain as I sat in the infusion chair ready to receive my very first dose of chemo through a port that had been surgically placed was:

“Being diagnosed with cancer is not the worst thing that could happen to me; dying without Jesus IS.”

I truly believe, (now, not necessarily then,) that my Father in heaven had a hold on me, He was in control the whole time, and I was in His Hand. You see, God allowed for me to be  torn down, so much in fact, and He allowed great weakness in me, when like Paul the apostle, in 2 Cor. 12:8, I ‘pleaded with the Lord (many), numerous times that it might depart from me’. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

So, He drew me nearer to Himself. So near that I felt I could hear His love song for me so much clearer. The chemo to me, reminded me of the ‘roaring thunder’ in the 1st verse of the hymn, ‘How Great Thou Art’.

Chemo was ripping me apart; kind of like those verses in Psalm 18 that I never understood – they made perfect sense to me now: “The Sorrows of Sheol surrounded me; the snares of death confronted me…Then the earth shook and trembled; The foundations of the hills also quaked and were shaken, Because He was angry…”(Ps. 18:5,7). “O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder, consider all, the worlds Thy hands have made, I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder, Thy Power throughout the Universe displayed…”

And, in my great brokenness, how could I not be in amazement of God’s comfort to me – it is found in verse 2 of this powerful hymn: And when I think of God, His Son not sparing – sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in…”

Of course, brokenness is something Jesus understands and knows all about. So in my own agony, my vision became singular: “that on the cross, my burden gladly bearing. He bled and died to take away my sin.”

So battling cancer, for me, was a time when God, my Father who knew what was best for me, spoke to me personally and intimately. He drew me to Himself even to the point about what to do about chemo and surgery. I heard His voice in my heart tell me, “This is the way, walk in it.”(Is. 30:21).

God brought me into such close communion with Himself; would I change this for anything? Never!

And God did a work in my heart through the cancer – to heal me. He healed me of hurts that were so deep that I never thought they would heal – but they did.


It’s as if He, the King, literally sat me at His Table. Just like in Song of Solomon 1:12. “While the king is at his table, My spikenard sends forth its fragrance…” You see, before, my fragrance was not sweet, it was bitter. But His eyes were on me. And I saw, (me, my Beloved’s maiden) saw so clearly, that He,(my King and my Lord), willingly became broken, on the cross,  for… me.

that ‘by His stripes’ I became healed (Is. 53:5) – of all my hurts, my anger, my disappointments, my pain, He washed it all away. And now a fragrance came from me that was… sweet.

In Song of Solomon 1:13, the maiden speaks my heart: “A bundle of myrrh is my beloved to me, That lies all night between my breasts.” You see, the bundle of myrrh is a burial spice, a symbol of Jesus dying for me on the cross.

Oh, how I love my Jesus, and hold Him close to my heart, because He took my hurts and pain, and He put a new song in my heart:

“Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee, How great Thou art, How great Thou art!”

And the beauty of life eternal, is my brothers and sisters that had cancer but aren’t here with us today, they’re still alive, forever with Him. And we will have our day-and this is what it will be like:

“When Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation and take me home, what joy shall fill my heart. Then I shall bow, in humble adoration and then proclaim, “My God, how GREAT THOU ART!”

Diagnosed with cancer? I don’t know why. But I DO know – our Father knows best, truly, our Father knows best.

PS:(and when I figure out how to send the song recorded simply, by me -just vocals and guitar, I would love to share this most powerful hymn, but for now, I simply ‘speak’ of the tremendous work of God in my life, through the hymn, How Great Thou Art!)


Author: tonirypkema

Wife to 1, mother of 11, daughter of 1. "The most amazing woman in the world." -Jared (son)

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