cancer, faith, Holley Gerth

The “C” Word

Cancer. The word no one wants to hear. I was in the vehicle with my husband when the doctor gave me the news. My first thought was “Poor Nick,” because his previous wife had died from cancer. Fear hit sometime the next day, after a night of tossing and turning. I reminded myself that fear is not from God and asked my husband to pray with me.

Much of this past year has been about prayer as I reveled in my first year of marriage with Nick, and for good reason. It was prayer that initially connected us. We began each of our dates with prayer and have continued to pray together daily. I credit that practice, along with our daily Bible study, for a marriage relationship that is unlike anything we could have hoped for or imagined at this point in our life.

I began praying in all things, big and little. approximately ten years ago, involving prayer and discernment in what books I read, movies I watch and even what journals I use. I get a little thrill choosing a new journal from the huge stack I store in a cupboard; little journals, big ones, wire bound, hardcover, paperback, colorful decorated pages or quotes interspersed throughout. Always lined, sometimes with a ribbon marker to keep my place.

Which journal do I pick? I asked on September 1st. It would be journal #14 since I began utilizing expressive writing as a healing tool in 2012. I caressed each cover lightly, flipping through pages, before landing on the colorful hardbound journal with Proverbs 31:25 She is clothed with strength and dignity on the front cover. Nick and I had just begun a Bible study of Proverbs a few days before. We were learning about wisdom and listening as it applies to marriage. What better journal to begin my second year of striving to be a Proverbs 31 wife to Nick?

I don’t journal every day. I’d only gotten a few pages in when I was diagnosed with cancer on September 13th. Writing out a prayer the next morning, I took great comfort in the bible verse at the bottom of the page.

I read the intro to the journal for the first time a couple of days later, in awe of how fitting it was for the situation.

Let His presence cast out any weakness and guide you through every circumstance and decision you face. Be strong in the Lord, and may His unfailing love guide your heart into a fearless future. I turned to the back cover and noted the quote by one of my favorite authors, Holly Gerth. God’s love is what we need to carry on and will carry us when our strength feels small. Ah, yes, this spoke to my heart too.

I’ve journaled nearly every day since the diagnosis, as I waited to see an oncology doctor, facing a surgery that will determine the stage of the cancer. God already answered two appeals I dared to convey; instead of the 5-12 days I was warned I could expect before hearing from the oncologist, the call came in just three days, when I was informed the consultation would be September 30th. September 30th, a day we would be in Iowa City anyway for an appointment my husband had made with a rheumatologist two and a half months ago. My oncology appointment in the same town scheduled for the exact same day, and with enough time between appointments? What are the odds? I will tell you; not likely.

God went before me. God knew in July when Nick’s appointment was scheduled that I would be diagnosed with cancer and need to see an oncologist. He orchestrated events so that the timing of our appointments would coincide. While I thought I was choosing a journal to help me be the best wife I could be for Nick (with strength and dignity), God knew better. Months before I would need it, God drew my attention to the colorful journal on the shelf of a thrift store. Yes, God goes to Goodwill with me. Because I ask for his guidance even in the little things, of all the journals I had to choose from in my cupboard, he knew which one I would need for this journey with cancer. He knew which bible study Nick and I would need right now. And if God cares about those little things; the timing of appointments, the right journal or bible study, I have no doubt God cares about me in this big thing, this cancer. God is in this too. He will use it for good. He may have work to do in me, in Nick, or in our marriage. I will face this cancer with strength and dignity. I will be strong in the Lord.

16 thoughts on “The “C” Word”

  1. I wish you peace and love as you begin this journey. Remember two words to help your stomach feel better – ice cream.

  2. Mary, I have been thinking about you and wondering what you have been up to since you got married. Sorry for the news, I will certainly keep you in my thoughts and prayers..God bless..

  3. Sorry to hear Mary
    God is in all the details of our lives the BIG and the small.
    May He bless you and Nick as you walk this road together.
    Blessings and hugs.
    Susan from woodhaven estates FL

  4. Our thoughts and prayers are with you, Mary. Many of your words inspired me today–and I got a bit of a chuckle as I read “Yes, God goes to Goodwill with me.” It’s beautiful to see God in the small things and know he is indeed there in the big things as well.

  5. Thank you for sharing. So many will go on this journey with you as you continue to share. We have so much love for you and yours! And prayers for Nick and you as well. God is here. For such a time as this. You are his instrument, and he will refine you and use you greatly through this.

  6. Mary, I’m sorry to hear about your cancer diagnosis. I see the righteousness of God shining through you in this post. Your attitude challenges and encourages me by reminding me that we are to trust God and praise Him in all circumstances. We trust, knowing that by His Sovereignty, everything that touches our lives has first been filtered through His hands.

    Heavenly Father, thank You for creating Mary and infusing her with Your strength. Holy Spirit, help Mary, Nick, and the family continue to look to You and draw their comfort, hope, and direction from God alone so that the mighty name of Jesus is glorified. Amen.

    I will continue to lift you in prayer.

  7. Hi Mary, me again. I just got back from a two-week jaunt to Ireland and am now catching up on emails. One of my sisters had uterine cancer. They operated and removed the cells and that was it. No chemo or radiation. Five years ago and nothing returned. I pray it will be as easy for you. Peace, Clare

    Clare Bills Nearly Normal Writer Author of Mountains of Trouble and Mending Helen’s Heart ________________________________

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