40. 180 degrees
I paused momentarily to allow the impact of the words I’d just spoken to sink in. Here we were on Monday evening, in an emergency meeting with the oncologist, surgeon and breast care nurse. And I’m not sure they could quite believe their ears, as I first explained my beliefs, then the decision that I didn’t want to proceed with either the mastectomy or the radiotherapy. I was so sure, so calm and the grace of God was flowing, giving me the strength to speak out the unwavering conviction my faith had given me…
Getting to this point had pressed me into the deepest point of surrender yet and held my feet to the fire of contemplation. Did I really believe every word in that book? Did I really believe Jesus never half way healed? Did I really believe He’s the name above all names; even the name of cancer re-occurrence? For this is what the dilemma demanded.
In the medical world, all treatment so far was inferior to the most important element of the whole programme - removing the tissue from where this cancer had once started. Whilst scans tell us the cancer is no longer there, clinically speaking, that has no bearing on the conventional treatment route needed. On Monday evening, we learned the cancer had actually spread into two thirds of the breast at one point and that as this type of cancer has the highest risk rate for re occurrence, whether it can be seen on a scan or not isn’t the point.
With hugely compassionate hearts, the medical team explained their experience of such scenarios and described in detail how the cancer cells may lay dormant, only to re explode, spreading the disease rapidly through all parts of the body. It was sobering to hear and starkly brought home the aggressive and unforgiving nature of the beast we all call cancer. However, simultaneously, something wonderful was also being spoken inside me. Every scripture, every promise, every revelation God had given me was as vibrant and compelling as the times I’d poured over them in the many hours of the day and night. The certainty that’s held me all these months was unmoved. Not through my own will or a weird wonder woman type of strength; but from the spirit of Jesus in me, giving me all the courage of The Man himself.
I knew the medical team, from a place of the purest intent, were willing me to re consider - along with many members of my family and friends. The pressure was immense. How could I look my mum in the eye, knowing the fear of ‘what if’, would most likely plague her forever? How could I reassure Jacob when he’s old enough to challenge more of this, that his mummy won’t die before her time? A very wise friend of mine once said fear can be a very powerful thing. It’s true and I know from first hand experience how the enemy will ride it like a champion jockey, tormenting a soul until he wins the race in someone’s mind.
On the drive home I was so conflicted. It came back to those questions again. Did I really believe what I’ve based the last 18 years of my adult life on? Did I really believe that God is above all, even the deadly disease that is cancer? Could I really look Andy in the eye without worrying he’d be raising Jacob on his own in a few years time? Could I really look at the sleeping frame of our little miracle each night without wondering if I’d see him graduate from school? In that moment everything seemed so black and white. I needed to be sure I was sure. And even in the face of all those questions and terrifying possibilities, I knew that I was. This is the gospel. Every word is true. On that I stake my life.
‘I’ll support you 100% whatever you decide to do’, came the incredible words of Andy. Whilst I knew he was erring on the side of a mastectomy, I also knew he was genuine in that commitment. ‘Go and chat with the big fella’, he wisely said when we got home. It was the best steer he could have given. I’ve always been hopeless at maths, so at school I quickly learned to sit next to the brightest kids who weren’t. When the answer seems impossible, I learned a long time ago, stay close to those in the know. Running through question after question in my own mind would get me no-where. I needed a breath from heaven.
So what happened in the midnight hours, that took me to a place of 180 degree capitulation? How did I find myself coming to re schedule the mastectomy, after all of that wrestling and all the faith I’d been given all these months?... In one word, it was love.
God’s presence was so strong as I lay it all at His feet. As we talked, a glow of realisation slowly built inside me, like the dawning of the sun over a beautiful summer meadow, casting a gentle warmth, colour and energy into my consciousness. This glow brought with it the message I so greatly needed to hear… I knew God knew my heart. And that was actually what mattered. Whether to have a mastectomy or not, wasn’t the issue. Cancer, ironically wasn’t the issue. It was the purity of where my decisions were coming from that counted. As this truth was whispered into my troubled soul, a peace and a stillness returned. This was not just about me, it was about so many others. Precious family, friends and even wonderful clients who I know have been with me every step of the way. All of their faces seemed to float across the tunnel of my mind.
The chances are, it’s probably you who’s reading this now. And there’s just one thing I want to say to the deepest part of your being. No matter how far away you may feel, no matter how you’ve wavered, no matter how you’ve reacted in the past, God’s love for you, is as strong as His love for me. All you need to do is welcome Him in.
‘But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no favouritism and is always sincere.’ James 3:17 NLT