I remember hearing those words for the first time when I was seven years old and my mother was diagnosed with stage III breast cancer. The cancer was moving fast through her body at the young age of 27. She had two small children to care for and her whole life ahead of her. She clung to her faith in Christ, did what the doctors recommended and remained optimistic in spite of her diagnosis of only having 3 to 6 months to live.
"Fear not for I am with you. Do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."
I remember her lying in bed, tired from the chemo, so very sick and yet smiling, letting us come and sit on her bed. My sister and I would draw her pictures and pick "flowers" (weeds) from the garden to bring to her. I don't remember much about those days but I remember they were not easy. Mom under went chemotherapy, radiation, and chemotherapy implants. Lots of different people from our church body and our beloved family helped out with car pools to school, meals, babysitting and housework. Daddy would work long hours to pay the bills and still come home to make dinner. On good days Mom would do what she could around the house and play Barbies and My Little Ponies with us or we would bring out the coloring books. Cancer tried to steal her joy but she found a way to let the light shine bright and not burn out.
My Mom is a fighter and she is still with us today, able to enjoy her two grown daughters and six (soon to be seven) grandchildren. It has not been an easy journey for her - she had a relapse of cancer when she was 40 years old and I was pregnant with my first child, her first grandchild. Again, relying on the Lord as her strength ("I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me") and the wisdom of her doctors, along with a double mastectomy, she was able to show cancer who was boss. Many surgeries and appointments later she can still smile, she can say how God brought her through and she can share her testimony with others.
While I was peeking at my email this week a woman named Heather sent me a message asking if I would spread the word about a rare type of cancer called Mesothelioma. Heather shared with me her inspiring story of being diagnosed just after the birth of her daughter, Lily. She was given 15 months to live but she was determined not to let her diagnosis define her. Please view Heather's story below as you become aware of this rare cancer and share the hope of a courageous wife and Momma.
To learn more about Mesothelioma please view Heather's awareness page here and you can read her inspiring posts on the Mesothelioma blog by clicking here.
For all of you out there battling with cancer, whether Mesothelioma or some other form of this disease, please know that my thoughts and prayers are with you. May you be encouraged by the stories of hope above.