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Last chapter I listed some (and only some) of the suggestions people showered at me. Ways to fight cancer. Ways to improve my health. I became so overwhelmed by all the free advice and not-so-free treatment suggestions I didn’t know where to start.
Then, at my next visit to Dr. Meiring, I discovered he had his own ideas. Actually, they weren’t just ideas. He expected me to follow his recommendations. In view of all the information and misinformation floating around my head I was only too relieved to have someone with authority dictating what I should do.
“You are to take a shark-liver oil capsule three times a day,” he said. “Also this multivitamin, mineral and anti-oxidant combination. I believe this will give you a good balance of all you need nutritionally. My staff will show you where to get them.”
Later, a good friend from Durban, a distance away, wrote and sent me two jars of an expensive dark green powder called Barley Green. She explained how this powder, which she sold, would help my immune system cope with the treatment I was about to embark on. Included in the package was the name and phone number of the representative in my area.
The jars sat unopened for a number of days. It looked so revolting! Eventually I felt guilty. My friend had paid out a lot of money for me. I reluctantly started taking it, following the instructions. It tasted every bit as repulsive as it looked. I determined to just take it long enough to prove it didn’t help.
I started to mixing it with some strong fruit juice and found as long as I gulped it down without stopping to taste or smell it, I could tolerate the ghastly drink. What we do to honor our friendships!
It was with relief that I came to the end of the jars, and decided I didn’t need to take any more as my friend wouldn’t know. A few days later, I reached for the telephone to order more. I realized it had really helped to build up my energy, and I needed to take it for the rest of my treatment. Praise the Lord for generous friends.
The result of all this advice was that I stopped reading about diet and nutrition. Each time a book started to tell me what I should or should not be eating, I turned pages until I reached another section. It was only much later that I would realize I was ignoring a major part of the healing process, and giving my poor overworked immune system even more tasks to cope with.
“Take up yoga,” came more advice.
“Channeling is much better.”
“Reflexology will work wonders for you.”
“Have you thought of trying PNI (Psycho Neuro Immunology)?”
There just didn’t seem to be an end to the things I could or should be doing to rid my body of this cancer, even where it went against my beliefs as a Christian..
Eventually I found myself suspicious of so many things.
Is it safe to use this deodorant?
How wise is it to use perfume?
If we went in the car on the freeway, I would put the window down. The air conditioner was bad for me.
“Oops,” I closed them again to avoid the car fumes and smell of petrol. I’d switch on the air conditioner.
Well meaning though all the advice no doubt was, I found the total confusion and misinformation I received from people, including an unsure medical world, made things so much worse.
Perhaps the cruelest advice I received, at intervals throughout that terrible year, was the best intended.
“Shirley, put your trust in the Lord!”
I am a committed Christian, so why do I say this was cruel?
It implied to my over-sensitive mind that people thought I wasn’t trusting Him. It made me feel that perhaps, if I really had faith, I would not subject my body to all this treatment. Is my faith at fault? I often wondered.
All the advice tempted me to do the very thing I longed to do. Stop the treatment and “trust the Lord.”
During my treatment period, two other people in our congregation, both Christians, did this very thing. They declared that God had healed them and stopped their treatment against medical advice. I played the organ at both funerals.
“Shirley, what are you saying?” a friend asked me in horror when I said this. “Surely you’re not suggesting it’s wrong to trust the Lord?”
“No, of course not. I know the Lord is with me. I also know He can reach down and heal me in an instant. But until He personally shows me beyond any shadow of doubt, that He has done so, I am going ahead with the treatment as planned.”
I stared at her wide concerned eyes.
“I can’t pretend I’m not scared of what I am letting myself in for. But I trust Him to guide me, to steer my treatment, to over-rule where necessary. Even if there are dark days ahead, I know He will always be there to show me the way.”
Trusting the Lord
One day when I was reading my Bible, I came to the well-known twenty-third Psalm.
Next time someone asked me about why I didn’t stop treatment and trust the Lord, I opened to that passage.
“David says ‘Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil,'” I read. “‘For thou art with me. Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.1‘” I pointed to the verse so my friend could read with me. “Lynne, where will I find the rod and the staff?”
“In the valley of the shadow of death?” she read the words slowly, doubt creeping into her voice.
I nodded. “I have no idea why the Lord wants me to go through this valley,” I said. “Nor do I understand why He needs me to pick up a rod and a staff. But, Lynne, I trusted Him with my life many years ago, and there is no going back. He wants me to go through the valley and collect the rod and staff. Then He will comfort me. He will go with me.”
I hoped I appeared more confident than I felt, yet I knew that what I said was true. I had to keep my eyes open, looking out for the rod and staff He had promised to leave for me in the valley.
When I started to feel afraid, I often went to my brown paper wall hanging of cards, and read the beautiful words and encouraging messages. One which really encouraged me was a computer message by an unknown author, beautifully printed and posted to me by my daughter’s mother-in-law.
I remembered those weak, confused cells my doctor had described to me. They were indeed so limited.
Yes, the war against cancer was beginning to hot up, but I had a wonderful family, many dear friends, and a countless army of prayer warriors throughout, not only South Africa, but overseas as well. Most important, I had the Lord on my side. The enemy might appear threatening, but “Greater is he that is in (me) than he that is in the world.”2 I drew a deep breath, and prepared to move into the unknown.
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What saying or quote helps you when you look at the topic of cancer? Please share below.
These events occurred between 19 and 20 years ago. I have tried to recreate events and locations as accurately as possible, but in order to maintain their anonymity, in some instances I have changed the names and identifying characteristics of individuals and places.
 Psalm 23 verse 4
 1 John 4 verse 4