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Sep15ThuHow God's presence sustained me after a difficult diagnosis. September 15, 2016 by Linda Gilbert
December 3, 2015, is a day I will never forget. It was the day I found out I had breast cancer. Today, I am cancer free. When I reflect on this journey, I can see how God was with me every step of the way. He showed me many times that he was in control, but I had to put my full trust in him.
- Filed Under:
- Opinion & Critical Thought
A Second Opinion
Even before I received a diagnosis, God's presence was clear to me. I typically don't go to the doctor for little things, but something made me go after I detected a lump. I also don't tend to ask for second opinions, but when the first radiologist suggested I wait for six months and come back, something made me say, “I'd like a second opinion and possibly a biopsy.” This was out of character for me, so I know God gave me the words. I'm grateful the second radiologist did a biopsy. I'm also grateful that I was so preoccupied with work, organizing a national conference, that I didn't have time to worry about the results. God had all of this planned for me.
The doctor's number came up on my phone as I was evaluating a presentation during the conference. I had been informed that if the receptionist called, the news was good, but if it was my doctor…. As soon as I could, I told the participants to take a break and found a quiet space to listen to the message. It was my doctor, asking me to call her back. I didn't need to—I knew I had cancer. But again, God knew what I needed. He gave me a few minutes to prepare so that I could listen and ask the right questions. God continued to show his presence in those first hours, because the colleague I was working with is a close friend, and also a breast cancer survivor—such a great support in those early hours.
As I drove home that evening, the presence of the Lord fell over me like it never has before. The traffic was terrible, the news on the radio was depressing and the reality of the past few hours was beginning to sink in. I dreaded telling my husband, Mike, and our two daughters. I started to panic, my heart racing. I just wanted to get home, but the traffic wasn't moving.
I switched my stereo to CD. The first song to play was Be Still, by The Salvation Army's Ontario Central-East Divisional Youth Chorus. As the song played, I wept and held out my hand. God was right there with me. I felt an immediate sense of calm, a peace like I've never known before. My heart stopped racing and I knew I was going to get through this with him. These lyrics were exactly what I needed to hear.
Be still and know that he is God, be still and know that he is holy, be still oh restless soul of mine, bow before the Prince of Peace, let the noise and clamour cease, be still and know that he is God. Be still and know that he is faithful, consider all that he has done, stand in awe and be amazed and know that he will never change, be still.
I'm in his Hands
Once I was still, I asked for strength. The following verses brought me comfort: “He fills me with strength and protects me wherever I go” (Psalm 18:32 TLB); “The Lord is my light and my salvation; he protects me from danger” (Psalm 27:1 TLB); “Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him to help you do it, and he will” (Psalm 37:5 TLB). There are so many ways that God not only showed his presence, but planned and allowed things to fall into place.
Don't get me wrong—everything didn't always go as I hoped, but I always knew I was in his hands. He sent me little reminders all the time. For example:
- It just so happened that both of my girls were coming home from school for the weekend so that I could tell them in person.
- I dreaded telling all of our friends at church—it was exhausting to talk about—but this was taken care of for us. After we told our corps officers, they prayed with us and asked if we wanted to keep the news private. My response was, “I believe in the power of prayer and the more people praying the better.”
- I had an uneasy feeling about the first surgeon and thought I should go to a larger hospital in Toronto, only to find out that I would need to wait until mid-February for surgery. I was devastated, but God provided yet again. I shared my concerns with my nurse navigator and requested a female surgeon. She booked me with a wonderful surgeon in my area, and the surgery was done much sooner.
- While on the surgery table, I had the same sense of peace that I felt in the car on December 3—I knew God was right there with me and I also knew I had many people praying for me. I'm so grateful for the support from our church family.
God was so good throughout this journey. I'd like to share some of the positive outcomes.
- First, and most importantly, my relationship with the Lord and my knowledge of his Word has deepened, and I am so grateful for that.
- Second, our family has grown closer—we were always close, but, as my daughter says, we are “weird close” now!
- God has helped me support two other people currently fighting cancer.
- And last, I'm grateful for the strong Christian friendships that have developed through this journey.
My prayer for you is that even in the dark times, the hard and challenging times, you will be able to see God's hand at work―that you will feel his presence as I did, and that you will be able to see positives come out of every situation.
“Jehovah himself is caring for you! He is your defender. He protects you day and night. He keeps you from all evil and preserves your life. He keeps his eye upon you as you come and go and always guards you” (Psalm 121: 5-8 TLB).
Linda Gilbert attends The Salvation Army Oshawa Temple in Ontario.