How The Story Ends

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It never gets old to say that I am a cancer survivor of four and a half years and counting. This post is my heartfelt thanks to those many people that prayed for the happy ending to my cancer story.

A cancer diagnosis evokes a reaction. Sometimes that reaction turns into a story. As I shared my breast cancer diagnosis in 2011, I heard many stories, including stories without the happy ending. “My first wife fought it for three years before she passed away.” “My mom died when I was in the sixth grade.”

The words from well-meaning people were a reminder that a cancer story can have a sad ending. Those were hard words to hear at any point, but especially so when the details of my cancer diagnosis were still unknown. I knew that their intent wasn’t to scare me. These people were deeply affected by cancer and it was their way to connect with me in my cancer story. Perhaps their words were poorly timed, but their compassion was evident in their broken and still healing hearts.

We were in this together. That was the point. That was the encouragement. There were people praying for me. There were people who knew exactly how to pray for me because they had endured a version of their family’s cancer story. There were people who loved and lost, but still survived cancer’s pain through God’s grace. I much prefer the happy ending. Regardless of the outcome, we are never alone.

Romans 12:15

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.

 2 Corinthians 1:3-5

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. 

 

 

 

The Guilt Salmon

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49 lbs of Alaskan Fish

What 49 lbs of Alaskan Fish Looks Like!

 

The “Guilt Salmon” was formerly referred to as the “Honeymoon Salmon.” My son and brand new daughter-in-law honeymooned in Alaska and sent back 49 pounds of fish that they caught. It was the best salmon I have ever had or expect to have: fresh, wild caught by people I love and a delicious reminder of the wedding joy. The frozen salmon fillets were reserved for special occasions. At my son’s request, one fillet was set aside to be shared with certain close family friends. I treated that fillet as a promise. Time passed quickly while life happened. The salmon survived two moves along with us and the rest of our stuff. The Honeymoon Salmon became the Guilt Salmon every time I opened the freezer. The reminder staring me in the face that I did not keep my promise. Before I knew it, a year passed and there was one fillet left. What about the promise? I wanted the ambience for our dinner get-together to be just right, relaxing and fun. Fixing up a house was not conducive to the atmosphere I was after. The perfect time wasn’t now. The house wasn’t showcase ready yet. I wanted the house to be perfect before company visited. The house still isn’t perfect. There was an additional hitch. The salmon was over a year old and the lady at the meat counter of the grocery store advised me to throw it away. Still, a promise is a promise. My son and his wife were in town. The close friends said yes to the last minute dinner invitation. The fish was good, but the company was even better. Promise honored. Promises come in all different shapes and sizes. A promise is not about impressing people. A promise is a commitment to share our lives with each other. A promise is about loving people right where we are at in the most beautiful way that we can muster up. Jesus will always be God’s most personal and best example to us for keeping promises.

 

2 Corinthians 1:20

For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. 

 

Numbers 23:19

God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind.  Does he speak and then not act?  Does he promise and not fulfill?

 

 

And I Pray!

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I volunteer with a ministry that serves patients and their families throughout the cancer journey. I am one of many that pray. Texts are electronically transmitted. Spoken prayers transcend time and space. Cards are mailed. And I pray.

But it is not for the faint-hearted. For the names keep coming. Week after week, more cancer diagnoses are heard, more families are affected by cancer, and the list of people to minister to gets longer. And I pray. How do you share hope with someone receiving hospice care? How do you comfort someone feeling miserable from the side effects of treatment? How do you encourage someone who discovers that the cancer has returned? And I pray.

I have lost two prayer partners, cancer patients that I prayed for daily and corresponded with weekly. Their physical bodies succumbed to the cancer. Sometimes, my prayers seem to go unanswered. And still I pray. Prayers for healing. Prayers for peace. Prayers for salvation. Prayers for miracles. For people I may never meet, talk with, or give a hug to on this side of heaven. Yet, I pray for God has given us the privilege to ask in Jesus’s name. And I pray because I can.

Note: The wonderful ministry I referred to in this post is Cancer Hope, a ministry of SouthBrook Christian Church in Miamisburg, Ohio. Cancer Hope knows no bounds in sharing Christ’s love with individuals and their families going through cancer. Cancer Hope’s blessings are available for anyone regardless of residence or church affiliation. More information can be found at: http://www.southbrook.org/ministries/. Once there, click on Cancer Hope.

2 Corinthians 1:3-5

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. 

2 Corinthians 1:10-11

He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers.  Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.