This year will mark another anniversary of 3 people near and dear to us who have passed away from the dreaded cancer. In the words of my nephew, ‘cancer sucks.’ Later changed to ‘cancer’s bad’ so he could put it on a t-shirt and wear it to school. I know everyone has a story about how cancer has touched their lives.
I found this very recently, again. Mimi’s (Sam’s Mom’s) story, in her own words.
LIVING WITH CANCER
This month I just passed my three-year mark of living with cancer. The devastation one feels when the doctor looks at you and says, “you have breast cancer which has already spread to other parts of your body” is indescribable.
After coming home from the hospital it seemed all I could do was sit on the sofa in the family room and cry. My brother-in-law, Dr. Joe Smith, who is a psycho-analyst, came to visit me. I said, “Joe, should I have some medication to keep me from crying all the time?” He explained to me that I was experiencing grief and I need to cry and work through my grief. This was a real comfort to understand what was happening to my emotions.
When I first learned I had breast cancer I found I could not pray. For days my husband and I held hands and prayed The Lord’s Prayer, morning, noon, and night. I talked about the different needs The Lord’s Prayer met, but I could not find any relief in it for my physical pain. That day I went to visit the surgeon and hanging on his wall beside the examining table was a picture with a quote from St. Augustine which said, “The Greatest Evil Is Physical Pain.” I said, “there is the answer I have been looking for. When Jesus said, ‘deliver us from evil.'”
I have learned God does not always answer prayer my way. My home church, Washington, D.C. First Church of the Nazarene has had around the clock prayer for me. But I am not healed! Dr. Charles Strickland anointed me and prayed for me at our district assembly three years ago. But I am not healed! My Nazarene family around the world has prayed for me. But I am not healed!
After my last session of radiation treatments I looked at my oncologist and said, “Doctor, do you think I can ever get rid of this cancer?” He looked back at me and said, “No Mrs. Smith, but maybe we can control the cancer enough years that you will die a natural death from something else.” Not much encouragement, but I am still living!
I was reading again Audrey Williamson’s book that she wrote especially for minister’s wives, Far Above Rubies, and in her closing chapter she said something that I can relate to as I grow older living with cancer.
Let me grow lovely growing old;
So many things do!
Laces and ivory and gold
And silk need not be new.
And there is healing in old trees;
Old streets a glamour hold.
Why may not I, as well as these,
Grow lovely, growing old?
Mimi passed away right around her 5-year mark. At her funeral the church was packed to capacity with standing room only. A testament to her life lived with grace and love.
In memory of Mimi, Paw Paw & Joe.