4 years ago, I was diagnosed with breast cancer…

So, now I write…I didn’t begin to write until after the cancer. But there is purpose in the words, even if they are only for me. The words are written to point to the loving, gracious, all patient hand of God. To be reminded of His presence in everything. Even great darkness.

My life was rudely interrupted by this very large mass on my right breast that seemed to appear out of nowhere. Only to find out that this size tumor can take up to 10 years to get that big. Wow, I guess that took me out the the early detection category. Anyway, my church family, (I love the fact the the church is the people!) My church family from everywhere started praying for me and reaching out during this time.  I truly believe that I was carried by the prayers of the saints.

On a side note, I was feeling pains ‘in’ my pelvic bone weeks before the cancer diagnosis, and was not sure what that was all about. So after the diagnosis, I grew strong through the Word of God, but at night , fear would come rushing in to envelope me.  I literally recited the scriptures that I had memorized and prayed the name of Jesus. But one particular night I felt compelled to get out of bed, literally fall prostrate before the Lord, and I prayed- “Lord God, I am afraid this cancer has metastisized to my bones. Please heal me, heal my bones.” I went back to bed. Do you know that I felt the Lord wanted me to pray in this manner-7 times! That is what I felt He wanted me to do- so I prayed on my face that night 7 times! Praying for the mercy of the Lord and healing for my body.  My bone scans were clear(!) but the large tumor remained. I truly believed the Lord healed my bones-yeah, now I only had breast cancer!

Many of you know that I am an alternative medicine person through and through and petrified of doctors offices! My father was an oncologist/surgeon of all things, and all I remember is THAT is an office I never want to have to go to. As I grew up,  Poloroid pictures of tumors that  he had surgically removed  that day lay on our kitchen counter.  (This can be a great encouragement to take vitamins and take care of your health, which I tried to do, somewhat.)
Well what was crazy about this situation was that I had no time even to think- first the tests, then the diagnosis, then the Surgeon and Oncologist  visit practically the next day!  ‘Wow, this must be bad for things to move this quickly’, were my thoughts as we walked into the office. But the woman behind the counter to sign me in was a sister in Christ that I loved dearly! And  the next thing I realized as we sat down was Christian music was playing, (Only in South Carolina! ) And then the  coolest thing of all happened as we were walking toward the room to meet the surgeon. I heard a voice from behind saying, “This is the way, walk in it.”  This is the way; chemo, surgery, the medical way, “this is the way, walk in it.”

So I knew from that moment on, we were going through the chemo!

I am trying to keep this story short; remember in  teaching my kids, they give me 10 minutes max!, so I am the queen of the 5 – 7 minute devotion/story.

So part of the  chemo I had to endure was nicknamed, ‘the red devil’ because it was red and it kills everything in it’s path- the good, the bad, and it sure made me look ugly! Anyway, to make a long story short, I thought the chemo was going to kill me- it was the hardest thing I had ever done, (and I had birthed 11 children natural!)

But here is what happened after my third treatment, (this moment has forever changed my life, and I will never live my days that I have here on earth, the same).

My dear friend drove me home after I was loaded up with all that chemo that day. (The nurses  were always surprised that I was sick right away. Most people wait a day and a half to be sick, but not my body. Within an hour I was sick.) But I laid down after Andrea had prayed for me and reluctantly left me to have some rest while my sweet neighbor Estelle had the kids for a bit. With my eyes closed, I could FEEL the death in my bones, (for this stuff kills the red and the white blood of the cells in the bone marrow). Anyway, I started talking to God.  “Lord, I think that they misjudged the amount of the stuff- but aren’t I supposed to see lights when I’m dying?” (Yes, this is how I talked to God on that day. I truly thought I was going to die.) Anyway, that Presence that we sing about and read in the word-His Presence was there! And I saw darkness, but there was a door, and it was open, and there was light shining out of the door, and all I saw were His hands, palms side up. And the only words that I heard were from a little story I used to read to my kids, over and over again:”Not all know Me as their King.”

I knew right then that I was going to live and that He, God, wanted me to tell others about Him. You see, those hands still had the scars from the nails. Jesus knows all about scars… because He laid down His life for me. And, as best I can, being in this fleshy human body, with many weaknesses and temptations, I would like to lay down my life for Him.

So the battle began, emotionally, physically, spiritually. But God, He brought me to the hymns. I finally was ‘still’ enough to hear the words. the first Hymn that literally lifted me from the dust and changed me on the inside as ‘wings on eagles’ was the old 7th century Hymn: Be Thou My Vision. Meditating and singing this new song strengthened me everyday. This song became my story, then and even now:

Be Thou my vision, Lord of my heart. Not be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best thought by day or by night. Waking or sleeping, Thy presence, my light.

Be Thou my wisdom. thou my true Word. Thou ever with me and I with You Lord. Thou my great Father, and I Thy true son. Thou in me dwelling and I with Thee one.

Be Thou my battleshield, sword for my fight. Be Thou my dignity, Thou my delight. thou my soul’s shelter, Thou my High Tower. Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise. Thou my inheritance Now and Always!  Thou and Thou only, first in my heart, High king of Heaven, My treasure thou art.

High King of heaven, My victory won. May I reach heaven’s joys, bright heavens sun, heart of my own heart, whatever befall,

still be my Vision, O Ruler of all!

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Author: tonirypkema

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

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