Ever since I was a little girl, I have loved anything pink. Pink is such a girly color. It’s right up there with sugar and spice and everything nice, and lace, and ribbons, and bows, and, well, it just makes me happy.
As an adult, I look back and wonder if there’s another reason I love pink? Maybe God was paving a path for me – one represented by a pink ribbon?
When my doctor said I had breast cancer, I was blown away and unprepared. There is no history of breast cancer in my family. I was perfectly healthy, and besides, I was too busy for a medical crisis! I had a very demanding job. I was raising my family and running a household. I was constantly on the go taking my daughter to swim practice and school activities, I was president of the Booster Club, and active in my church. I did not have time for this!
Shock was replaced by a pity party. How did this happen? Why me? What did I do wrong? More importantly, what was I going to do? I pondered these questions for about five minutes, then I called my mother.
Aren’t moms wonderful? Despite being 77 years old, having a myriad of her own health problems, and already having lost her first-born son to cancer, my mother took me up on her lap and comforted me. She listened as I poured out my concerns, my fears, and my endless questions. Then she reminded me that God was in control.
There you have it. I come from a long line of faith-filled women, and her reminder was just what I needed to hear. I knew she was right. I knew I needed to pause, take a deep breath, and reflect on one of my favorite Bible verses:
“Be still, and know that I am God“ Psalm 46:10
The journey was long, complete with lots of detours and setbacks. Multiple surgeries, tubes sticking out everywhere, numerous complications, skin grafts, chemo, pneumonia, shingles, and losing my hair really tested me. To top it off, my husband of 30 years decided to have an affair. Really?!
There were many times I didn’t know if I could go on, but I found the strength to continue. I did not do it alone. God was absolutely in control, and He would not let me fall.
“But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect,” 1 Corinthians 15:10
Here are some of the lessons I learned from my journey with the Big C.
- God did not punish me by giving me cancer. A God who loves me enough to die on the cross to pay for my sins would not stoop to such petty behavior. The night before my first surgery several of my friends called to let me know they were praying for me. The incidence of breast cancer is so common, that one of them basically said “show us how it’s done because one of us might be next.” My friends saw in me a strength I didn’t even know I had.
- God had blessed me with a loving family and lots of friends. With their constant support and help, I got better each day. Soon enough, I was able to stand on my own two feet and take care of business. That meant that I was now a single mom shouldering an enormous financial burden and the responsibility of raising my daughter alone. However, my support system stepped up and walked alongside me. Unexpected meals, swim practice carpool offers, laundry that miraculously got done, and prayers! Oh, the prayers! And not just from family and friends – perfect strangers in several states were praying for me! A day turned into a week, and then a month, and then a year, and today I am just shy of 15 years cancer-free!
I do not choose to be characterized by cancer. It happened, I survived, and it’s in my rearview mirror. Am I bitter about having cancer? Or the failure of my marriage? Nope. I’m too busy and I’ve got more important things to do with the rest of my life. My faith saw me through a dark time, and now I’m more determined than ever to show my thanks. I pray daily for the courage to speak up and tell others about my awesome God, whether that be in words, in thoughtful deeds or actions, or by living out my Christian values for others to see.
And as for pink, it’s still my favorite.
Thank you so much for sharing, Patti! Your lack of bitterness and your confidence in the future shines through in all you do! I am thankful for all you do for our church family and for others.