Being a “Thriver” (8)

God commands us to have joy in all our circumstances.

Let’s look at Phil. 4:4…”Rejoice in the Lord always.” It does not say rejoice sometimes, or rejoice only when we feel like it, it says “rejoice in the Lord always.” (In the Lord) means in His fellowship, in His love and grace and in the knowledge of His dominion over our lives and His rule over all our destiny.) In other words, the Lord has EVERYTHING under control.

If it is a command, it is also a choice. Many times I was faced with the choice to laugh or cry. I chose to laugh.

I made every effort to be as positive as I could be about my prognosis and to believe that through this whole experience I could be used by God. I was not disappointed. I had opportunity to pray with my doctors and nurses before and after surgeries. I was able to talk with my roommates about God and I have been privileged to meet other women and share my “hope in Jesus” with them as they too struggle in battling breast cancer. I have written several articles that were published in HomeLife about my cancer experience and I have been able to share my testimony with many through my books and through my Journey Thoughts blog.

After my last chemo treatment in June of 2001, I came home to a huge poster taped to my front door reading: “Praise the Lord, the Chemo is done! Way to go Lynn!  Continued prayers and blessings unto you and the family!” It was an amazing note of encouragement from my church family. As I started to heal and regain my strength through the next half year, my friends and family continued to pray and love me. I still have friends who continue to pray for me, particularly for my health, knowing that once diagnosed with cancer, the fear of reoccurrence is always there. I don’t dwell on it, but I know too that every day is a gift.

In January 2002, I underwent a prophylactic mastectomy of the left breast followed by immediate reconstruction surgery of both breasts. It may sound strange, but that surgery was actually my “reward” after Breast Cancer. Many women who are diagnosed with breast cancer opt to have immediate reconstruction after their initial surgery. I did not have that option because my oncologist wanted me to start chemotherapy as soon as I had recovered from my initial surgery. If I had opted for reconstruction, I would have had to wait with chemo until I had healed sufficiently. As it was, this gave me nearly a year to think about my options and since breast cancer runs in our family (my mother passed away from the disease in 1990), I opted to have the other breast removed followed by reconstruction of both breasts later in what is called a Tram Flap operation that sees tissue taken from the stomach and used to make brand new breasts with microscopic surgery to connect blood vessels. It means a tummy tuck…bonus!…and then later the cosmetic surgeon can make nipples and add tattoos to finish the look.

Unfortunately the 15 hour reconstructive surgery resulted in my developing a blood clot in my leg so I spent most of February 2002 in the hospital recovering from the extensive surgery, but now I look back on that particular surgery and I am very pleased with the results and despite the risks then, I would not have done anything differently. Reconstruction allowed me to look and feel normal again and for me that was part of my healing process…and I didn’t have to worry about my prosthetic tumbling out of my shirt at an inopportune moment 🙂 .

It is true that persons who have experienced a life-threatening illness, see life very differently than they ever did before the illness. It may seem strange to say, but “cancer” actually gave me back my life. I had been in a deep spiritual valley prior to my diagnosis. I know we all may go through that every once in a while but in my case, I was probably as low as I could go in my faith walk. I had been a Christian for over 20 years, and I had served in my church for years and attended services each Sunday, but I was leading a hollow, empty existence with no joy when it came to my faith walk. I am not suggesting God brought on my cancer to shake me from the spiritual doldrums I was in, but He used my cancer to reveal Himself to me in ways I would never have known had I not journeyed down cancer’s road.

 

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