The telephone's insistent ringing interrupted my busy day again. My husband had just left for an afternoon of visiting at various nursing homes. "I hope this call isn't for him," I thought. "I'll never be able to track him down."
"Hello, Mrs. Flatt, this is Doctor S. I'm calling about the results of your biopsy. Your tests aren't all back, but we do know the tumor was definitely malignant." My heart began to pound, and I couldn't remember anything else he said. MALIGNANT, MALIGNANT just kept ringing in my ears as if someone was standing there shouting it over and over again.
Malignant, how can it be? I'm not in the high-risk group. God wouldn't let this lump be malignant, would He? After all, I'd been praying that it was just a cyst. This can't be happening to me. As a busy Pastor's wife, I have responsibilities! My husband needs me. My children and grandchildren need me. This must be a mistake. Who will teach Ladies Bible Study? In just a short time, all of these thoughts went whirling through my mind.
As I sat there stunned, I turned to the Lord for help. "Lord," I pleaded, "please, don't let this happen. Let it be a mistake!" Maybe this is just a nightmare and when I wake up everything will be fine, I thought. It wasn't a bad dream. It was true. I had cancer!
It has been five years since I received the telephone call, yet it seems like yesterday. Surprisingly the surgery and treatments that followed were the easiest part of having this terrifying disease.
What has been the most difficult part of having cancer? FEAR! There was the overwhelming fear the cancer would recur, and the fear of not finding a new lump until it's too late. Then there was the fear of being like all those "sick people" I met while going for radiation therapy. Living the rest of my life controlled by this disease was my ultimate fear.
Actually, death wasn't the real cause of my fear. It was dying of cancer that frightened me. To me, cancer and dying were synonymous. No amount of reassurance from the doctors changed my thinking. The fear of dying made me realize how much I wanted to live.
I wanted to continue serving the Lord in the ministries He had given me. I wanted to grow old with my husband. I wanted to be there when my children called just to talk. I wanted to watch my grandchildren grow. I wanted to receive their wonderful homemade gifts. I wanted to know that I was going to be part of their lives. Tearfully, I wondered if the only memories my grandchildren would have of me would be pictures in a photo album? All I could think of was what I wanted!
Living in fear is not really living! Fear left unchecked would eventually possess my every waking moment. What did fear have to offer? A life controlled by fear would be a continuous nightmare. My life was in turmoil. Would fear control me or would God control me? The choice was mine.
Wouldn't you think this was an easy choice to make? It was not. Not until God's Word began to comfort me did I find any hope at all. One verse helped put everything in perspective, "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind" (2 Timothy 1:7). Knowing that my fear didn't come from God made it easier to surrender my fear to Him.
There have been times during the last five years when I needed to reclaim the victory only He can give. Fear is never far away but the Lord is closer.
After completing this article, we discovered Bob had cancer. Trying to grasp the fact that my beloved husband has this terrible disease has been more difficult than my having cancer. Fear has taken on a whole new dimension, but it has not overwhelmed us. Why? We know that God is greater than our fears and it is not God's will for us to live in fear. God's Word continues to comfort us as our loving heavenly Father wipes away the many tears.
As we wait for the final
reports, we know that regardless of the results, God is in control. Our hope is
not in what man can do. Our hope is in the Lord. [From Keystone Baptist by
PS It is now 2010 and I have been cancer free for 23 years and Bob was cancer free for 15 years but developed a new form of cancer and is now cancer free for 3 years. His story can be found at Cancer From a Man's Viewpoint.