Time is Running Out

diaryJOURNAL ENTRY: 2nd November, 1997 Today, I learned I have cancer. How can this be? Cancer happens to other people. 

“You have cancer, and I don’t think they’ll be able to get it all out.” That’s what the radiologist told me after the mammogram and before the sonar. He seemed mad with me. Why? 

I guess he didn’t like passing on the news. That made two of us. I didn’t like receiving it. Maybe he’d had a bad day. Again, that made two of us. Right now, I can’t see me ever having a good day again. 

What did he mean when he said he didn’t think they’ll be able to get it all out? Who’s “They” anyway? And why is it up to them? It’s strange. I didn’t panic or cry. I just felt . . . numb I guess. As if we were talking about someone else.  

Once he’d finished the sonar, and I’d seen the tumour for myself, he told me to get dressed. On his way out the cubicle, he paused and glanced back. “Good luck.”  Good luck? He tells me I have cancer, that “They” probably won’t be able to get it all out, and then he wishes me good luck? It’ll take more than luck to pull me through whatever lies ahead. This is going to test my faith in a way it has never been tested before. I’m glad for that faith- a faith in God, who promises to always watch over me . . . Yeah, right. So where is He now?

How come He let me get cancer?If the radiologist is correct, my time is running out. I think of the old-fashioned hour-glass, where the sand trickles through from the top section to the bottom. When the sand is all at the bottom, time is up. I feel as if my sand is running faster than before. And I feel so alone.

REFLECTION: Looking back, ten years later. “You have cancer!” The moment I heard those words addressed to me, my life changed forever. Ten years after that dreadful moment, I look back and see my life divided into two sections. There is BC and AC: Before Cancer, and After Cancer. Not all the BC was good, and certainly not all the AC is worth remembering. But that sentence, those three harsh words, You have cancer, triggered a life-change. I would never be the same again. I didn’t know it then, and it took years before I saw it, but the Lord had an exciting future mapped out for me. I was fifty-two. Suddenly I knew my life had an end. The days left to me were limited. Whether the mysterious They got it all out or not, even if I totally conquered this monster deep within my breast, I knew one day I would run out of time. Whether I suffered a massive heart attack, got run over by a drunken driver, or, God forbid, died of cancer, I only had a certain number of days left. Of course, that was always the case, but I was too busy to consider the length of my life. Now I could think of nothing else. You have cancer! The sand was running.

GOD’S WORD: It’s strange how it often takes a moment of crisis to bring us to this point of realizing our own mortality. You have cancer. Have you just heard those mind-chilling words? Has your spouse, your child or your friend? Suddenly the clock is ticking, and you face the reality—they are mortal. So are you. I have good news for you. In Psalm 139 verse 16 David says, “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” (NIV) The diagnosis of cancer makes no difference to that number of days. Those words, whether spoken in anger or with compassion, did not catch God by surprise. Nor is He in a panic, wondering what to do. Right now, wherever you are, stretch out your hand. Allow Him to take hold of it and walk with you into the future. Your life is His. Sure, the sand is running, but you know what? God made the hourglass, and He knows just how much sand is still to go . . .

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.

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