Editor’s Note: In honor of Blood Cancer Awareness Month and Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, OTW is featuring articles from those who have personal experience with these cancers. We encourage you to give these articles a good read, and consider how you can get involved.
It was a cold January evening in Boston when my cozy little apartment began to fill up with dear friends bearing tasty desserts. My husband, Bobby, had planned a little gathering on my birthday. Although I was enjoying my time, I was fidgeting with my iPhone, making sure it was in a place where I could feel it vibrate if a call came in.
Back in California, my “bestie”, Lyndsay, was having blood tests done. In the previous days, she had unusual bruising, amongst other symptoms. As recommended by her primary care doctor, she had been staying at the hospital for “further testing”.
Sure enough, my phone buzzed. I looked down and read: “Clay”, our friend who was so kind to keep me informed in real time. Without hesitation, I went into the stairwell to take his call and hear the results of the blood test. Sure enough, it was the thing we feared… leukemia. I remember it so vividly.
As soon as was possible, I was on a five-hour flight to California that allotted some time for me to think and reflect on all that was going on. Typically, the first question we ask is, “Why did this happen to me/her/him? . . . or, “Why did GOD allow this to happen?”
I don’t claim to have all of the answers in life, but I am confident in the knowledge that we live in a fallen world, we are sinful in nature and susceptible to pain and suffering, but that one day our world will be completely redeemed. I know that is not an exhaustive answer, by any means. However, I had a different question to ask: “Through this suffering, what can I learn about Christ?”
Here were some of my thoughts that day:
I see cancer as a representation of sin. Not in the sense that one caused the other. But in the sense that it is ruthless, painful, and can ultimately lead to death. It takes over quickly, makes you weak, makes you afraid. You must confront it quickly, or it can become too large to conquer.
Chemo, is a savior to the person receiving the treatment and being spared from the death caused by the cancer. But chemo is also death. It is dangerous, but necessary. It kills as many white blood cells as possible, without killing the patient. It causes pain, illness and a plethora of symptoms.
When I think of the double effect of this treatment, life and death, I think of another powerful event in history that required death in order for life to spring. My Christ on the cross. I think of His death that was necessary to conquer our sin and to give us life. And I think of the pain that death caused our Lord, as His Father left Him to receive a treatment He never deserved, but was critical for reconciliation with us. Death brings life. “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” John 12:24 ESV
Lord, give my bravest friend in the world the strength to be weak, but fully dependent on Your grace. Heal her and make her like new. Please, make Your face to shine upon her and give her peace and be gracious to her. Only You know how to turn darkness into light and death into life. Amen.
That was in 2010… here we are now. If you read Lyndsay’s story that she published back in January, you know that she is cancer free! I’ve also seen my nephew, an aunt, and other relatives and friends battle some kind of cancer. I can’t be more grateful that God has brought them all through it. I am amazed at the resilience of the body and how amazingly advanced medicine has become/is becoming. I am also grateful for all of those who work so hard to discover new treatments for cancer, for those who donate their financial resources, for those who donate blood, etc.
I love it when God uses even painful experiences to reflect His love for us. It gives us the courage to battle, knowing that He joined us in our sufferings . . . and the hope of complete redemption of this life.