Facing a Diagnosis

2nd November, 1997  – Post 1
 This afternoon’s been tough.  After a cup of hot coffee and a prayer with my nursing colleage, I went out into the fresh air and headed for my car. I gazed upward and watched the tiny clouds scud across the blue sky. Somehow, this brought me peace. It reminded me that the God who created this beauty is in His Heaven. And I guess He’s not surprised about the cancer.

As I eased my car into the traffic, I prayed aloud. I told the Lord I trusted Him. Okay, I admit it was easier to say the words than to believe them. Still, I know I have to trust Him. There’s no one else, right?  I remembered once reading how you have to speak the words of faith even if you don’t feel them. The faith is supposed to follow. I sure hope so. I’ve spoken the words. Now I’m waiting for my faith to perk up.  I prayed all the way home. I had to focus on one step at a time. That was all I could deal with. Although Rob and David knew about the appointment, they didn’t expect any problem. Why would they? I hadn’t. While I drove, I searched for an easy way to tell Rob. After 30 years of marriage, you’d think I would’ve known what to say, but I hadn’t a clue.  

As I walked down the corridor, Rob came up behind me and said, “Hi!”  I tried to look cheerful. I knew it didn’t work.  He asked me how it had gone and followed me into the bedroom. I dropped my bag on the bed and kept my back to him as I searched for the right words. It was no good. There were no right words.  Suddenly I couldn’t hold back any longer. I swung around and blurted. “Rob—I’ve got cancer! And they seem to think it’s too late to get it all out!”  

Poor Rob. So much for breaking the news gently.

LOOKING BACK: I soon learned that there is no easy way to break this news. No matter what words I used, or how I led in to the topic, the name “cancer” always brought a look of horror. As a registered nurse and minister’s wife, I often heard it referred to as “The Big C” or simply “C.A.”. People often can’t bear to even say the word, “cancer”. From the outset, I decided to be open about my diagnosis. I didn’t understand why God allowed me to get this dreaded disease, but I had to believe there was a purpose. God had permitted it to come my way. If I didn’t believe that, then I was saying that it was beyond His control, that He couldn’t prevent it. That was unacceptable.

So, I determined to remain as upbeat as possible, learn as much as I could, and survive. “I have cancer.” Every time I spoke those words, a sense of unreality would shake me. My intellect knew the words were true, but my emotions wanted to say, “Stop talking nonsense!” Many people at this stage go through a stage of denial. I never doubted that I had cancer, yet somehow it didn’t seem real. Talking openly to people who came to see me during those early days seemed to help them. They didn’t have to skate around the subject. My frank approach released them to talk openly. They could ask me questions and express their concerns. It also helped me. I didn’t need to pretend––and that helped me to accept the diagnosis as real. “I have cancer.” There was no easy way to break this news. Yet I knew that God would either help me survive–or He’d take me to be with Him. Each time I spoke the word “cancer”, I sensed God’s reassurance. The more I turned to Him, the more my faith grew.

GOD’S WORD: In chapter 9 of the Gospel of John, we read of Jesus healing a man born blind:

His disciples asked him, “Teacher, whose sin caused him to be born blind? Was it his own or his parents’ sin?”Jesus answered, “His blindness has nothing to do with his sins or his parents’ sins. He is blind so that God’s power might be seen at work in him.” (GNB)

Jesus then restored sight to this man. I didn’t know at that stage if God intended to perform a miracle of physical healing in my life. However I sensed, even then, that God would use the situation in some amazing way. I didn’t have to make excuses for Him. He hadn’t failed me. I didn’t need to hide what was wrong. I had cancer––and God was still in control.

In Romans 8:28 we read, “God is always at work for the good of everyone who loves him.” (CEV) I loved God; so I had to believe that somehow, from all the craziness of cancer, He was about to bring something good. Do you have that same assurance today? Do you love God? Do you have a personal relationship with Him? If you do, you too can anticipate His leading and wisdom throughout this time.

Right now, this will seem a ridiculous statement, but He will do something good in your life as a result of the diagnosis of cancer. If your answer is “No, I don’t have that assurance of God’s love,” it’s not too late. But please don’t put it off one more day. Right now, wherever you are, speak to Jesus. He loves you so much. Invite Him to be your Lord and Saviour. Ask Him to show you how to give your life totally to Him. Then step into your future with the knowledge that He is walking beside you, holding your hand.

For more help with this important step, read What Does Death Mean to You? If you’ve prayed that way, please drop me a line at shirley@shirleycorder.com so that I can make contact with you and pray for you.  

SURVIVAL STRATEGIES: Listen to your doctor and specialists, but remember, this is your body. Make informed decisions. Ask questions. Seek to understand. Take notes. But don’t panic! Allow God to be in control. How about you? Have you faced this diagnosis? What was your first reaction when you got home and faced the family? 

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