So I’m a ‘blog-copier’ I hope I don’t get sanctioned or something for riding on the coattails of two of my favorite ‘reads’. First to GiBee for opening up this can-o-worms, then to Shalee for flinging the ‘worms’ all over cyberspace and one landed smack dab on my head and started sucking the story right from my brain.
As I shared on “comments” at Kisses of Sunshine (aka: GiBee’s Comedy Blog) I have prayed for everything big and small for some time now. Prayer is not something I struggle in…sometimes accepting God’s will is something I struggle in or hearing God right the first time…but I don’t struggle just going to His throne of grace and ‘hanging out there’ in prayer and meditation and worship.
I will also “steal” Shalee’s words about NOT being some holy, holy, holy of holies…I struggle, boy do I struggle. Anyone who has read any of this rambling, KNOWS I struggle daily…the beauty is…most days my struggle results in gain. I gain wisdom and peace and endurance through the various trials and temptations I face daily. Sometimes, however, I gain some bad stuff too and I won’t go there, suffice to say I’m not “done” yet...thank you Jesus!
Here is my story…(Dear Sister, Please forgive any inconsistencies this is how I remember the story)
My ‘baby sister’, who I didn’t grow to fully appreciate until adulthood, has battled cancer since the early 1990’s. She was first diagnosed with ureter cancer? I think…though I wasn’t aware of this battle until after she completed treatment. I won’t go into the “whys” of the rationale behind secrecy.
She then began her battle with Chronic Leukemia. The first time she was only in her late twenties (I believe) and she endured the chemotherapy and resulting weakness, hair loss and all the “stigma” that goes along with the diagnosis. She reached the point of remission and what an incredible celebration that was. Again, I wasn’t living near her at this time.
She then became sick again with Chronic Leukemia. The second time was harder. The chemo was harder, the physical drain and strain was harder. She had come out of a string of “bad” relationships by then, so she did have a loving, supportive husband by this time, but physically…it was harder, this was sometime around 1995.
I remember talking to her about her treatment (without much detail which is NOT like my sister)…but she internalized most of the emotional disease process that takes place.
The first blessing that occurred during this “cancer journey” was my nephew. My sister found out she was pregnant, much to the chagrin and wonderment of her oncology doctor. She gave birth to my nephew in November, 1996. I believe by then or shortly thereafter, she was in remission (for the 2nd time) from Leukemia and even more reason to celebrate because the amazing and physically perfect nephew was born and quite an addition to this family.
Things seemed halfway normal for a while. My sister became very involved in the local MOPS chapter and was helping start a MOPS group at a church…she went to a huge conference in Ohio that year and returned feeling so “spiritually high” and so confirmed in her feelings and calling for her life. She understood why she had been “cured”. She returned home to the devastating news that her loving husband had committed adultery and he confessed this literally on the heels of her return.
By the grace of God they have found healing for their marriage and themselves individually…however, within a year of this personal upheaval, my sister found out she had CUPS (cancer of unknown primary source). She had tumors throughout her body. It was like a death sentence. Medically speaking, it WAS a death sentence. This was a rare cancer that had only been research minimally. She had tumors on her spine, legs, arms, numerous soft tissue spots…it was almost surreal when she would point to a “swelling” on her finger and say: “that’s a tumor”. This was 2000.
I moved back to Oklahoma in 2001. I was determined to spend time with my sister even if it was shortened by God. One of the first things my sister did with me upon my return was driving me by the graveyard where she wanted to be buried. She explained that she and her husband had already selected the location and plans were being made. She had made a list of people she did and DIDN’T want at her funeral. She asked me if I could ‘enforce’ her wishes. I couldn’t even cry, I was so ANGRY and felt like she was giving up! Yes, one of those first responses to the dying process.
My parents were also grief-stricken. They would “stress” about every miniscule thing around my sister. My sister wore a surgical mask everywhere we went for fear of germs and infection…a catalyst to death.
One of the first ‘good’ things to come from this was seeing my father draw near to God. He was raised in a church and had always gone to church, but had never fully committed his heart to Jesus…during this time, he did. He was truly a changed man. He was concerned about his daughter and was able to show that openly. My mother and father also grew closer in their joined battle against this cancer.
We were praying all through this time, more fervently the weaker she got. The answers were always positive. My sister was told she would have to give up driving due to the tumor on her spine…she never fully lost feeling of her legs (again amazing the doctors). There were times she would have to crawl to the bathroom because she couldn’t walk, but this weakness NEVER occurred when she was driving. She was also authorized to begin a research drug for CUPS patients through MD Anderson solely because of her ‘hopeless medical condition’…this was a bittersweet answer to prayer.
Having been in the medical arena for as long as she had, my sister had no trouble speaking with doctors openly about her wishes and her desires. She would tell them ‘how it was’ and in no uncertain terms…her questions were answered fully and the doctors weren’t allowed to “blow her off” as it often seems they do. The MD Anderson research doctor was dubbed “Mr. Personality” because he had NONE. He was perversely obsessed with the dying process more then the healing process. It was as though he expected her to succumb to death.
Another answered prayer was with the new medication the side effects were essentially nil. The drug was supposedly attacking only cancer cells, leaving the “good” cells intact and strong.
This went on for about a year. There were a few really scary moments when we weren’t sure any of us were going to “make it” through this journey. I think my sister had finally decided she had better start preparing her children (then 7 and 13) by journaling and spending time with them so they would have “mommy” memories for a lifetime. I think she had begun to give up…I think we had all begun to give up…
Then…my sister was at a ‘healing’ service in her church, having been through healing services in other churches for her OWN needs she wasn’t praying over that…she was praying over my niece for her future and her grades and her friends.
This is kind of “twilight zone” weirdish…so prepare yourself…THEN…my sister said as she’s on her knees praying she feels a physical sensation and movement a “spirit” moving through her body and she cannot move. It’s as though she’s frozen where she is. She feels a warm flow of “energy” in her body. She is crying because she can’t move, but she continues praying. I don’t know if she thought she was going to die there???or what…but here’s what happened…
After about an hour of prayer, led by this visitor…she can finally move and she knows in her heart and in her mind…she has been healed of cancer! I think she even told us that fairly immediately. She went to her doctor shortly thereafter and sure enough…tumors are gone…not only that (get the Kleenex out), but the marks on her arms and back from blood draws and spinal taps….GONE, every single one of them! There is no evidence that sickness once riddled her body. Her liver which was basically GONE…was growing back for the first time in her struggle.
Alas, Mr. Personality was NOT happy. Every other patient on this "research drug" had died and Mr. Personality was extremely perplexed by my sisters lack of symptoms, and angry because he couldn't use her in the study if she was "healed" not "cured". Note: He still performs follow-up exams every 6 months I believe.
I know that my sister is alive today by the grace of God’s healing power and prayer. I know that whether God chose to heal her cancer or not…He is still a God of healing. I know that God CHOSE to heal her…I tell her that “obviously her work is NOT done and she won’t be dumping those kids on me!”
All joking aside, this answered prayer has been her testimony and my own faith builder when I sometimes struggle about whether or not God is “hearing me”. What do I say to others who don’t have an “earthly” happy ending of healing? I say: “God is still God. God still loves us and desires our wholeness and healing. God gave His only son to preserve our lives and the ONE TRUE GOD is with that family member to and through and after the end of their earthly time here. God is holding your loved one with Him now.”
You see I don’t believe my own sadness over my sisters cancer was about her potential death…it was about MY LOSS. I know heaven is better then earth…and if God takes one of us today or tomorrow it will only be our loss…but their GAIN!
God does answer ALL prayer…please keep praying…at least pray to understand God better and see if your faith doesn’t grow just a little.