(Another loved one just lost her battle against cancer. Every so often, I would read posts of friends grieving over someone suffering from this dreaded disease. One posted an excerpt from my book “Gifts of Grace” Book 3, which he says helped him in his darkest hours after his wife's death.)
Let me share this excerpt with you. May it help others deal with their grief.
My Friends Sonia and Brenda (Part 1)
Not too long ago, people were reticent about cancer. We would refer to it as “The Big C” and would say it in whispers. But the scourge and rise of the disease has become so severe—the No. 2 cause of death in the U.S. in the year 2007—we now call a spade a spade, so to speak. People openly say, my aunt or uncle or friend or mother or father or grandmother or grandfather has cancer.
It is in this light that I will speak about my friends Sonia and Brenda. They have touched my and other people’s lives on such a grand scale that by writing about them, I hope that many more will be similarly touched.
Sonia and Brenda never met each other. And never will—at least not in this lifetime. But they always come to my mind simultaneously. They had two things in common: faith in God and cancer, in that order.
Sonia has been a church-mate for as long as I can remember. We both serve the church council year after year either as a deaconess or a board member. We have prayed for each other’s families for ages, especially when my husband also had cancer surgery. Her children and mine grew up in Junior Church. After our women’s group meetings, she drives me home.
When she got breast cancer, she was not overly concerned as I was. For me, having seen close friends and loved ones go through debilitating cancer therapy, it was the worst news of all. But Sonia did all the right and important things—prayed and fasted and asked friends to pray for and with her.
She was blessed with a doctor who advised chemotherapy before surgery. Sonia was never disheartened nor incapacitated. She functioned normally and even after a chemo session, she would show up at her appointments.
“The Lord has healed me,” she gratefully said when after her chemo sessions were completed, her doctor said there was no need for surgery! She was simply given maintenance pills. The only other expense she had was for a wig which so resembled her original hairdo we hardly noticed when her real hair grew back. Her doctor gave her a clean bill of health every year.
Until four years later. After a routine check-up, her oncologist said, “The cancer is back. You need immediate surgery.”
Sonia told me that she felt unperturbed. “The thought that crossed my mind was, ‘O? Well I don’t think I need to go through surgery—or anything. The Lord healed me the first time, He will heal me again this second time around.”
Predictably, everyone who learned about her condition encouraged Sonia to consider surgery. Sonia prepared to go along with her husband and all those who thought it was the only way to go.
“But deep inside, I didn’t want to go through it and I told my oncologist about it. She respected my decision and changed my oral medication to something more potent.” Sonia said. “The pill replacement was too expensive for me and I had to take it every day!”
Another long-time friend, a pastor, visited Sonia when he found out about her latest diagnosis. She confided to him about her desire to skip surgery. The pastor prayed with and over her, after which Sonia decided: “I have a big God. No surgery, and no more medication for me.” She took what was left of her pills and that was that.
When Sonia announced her faith-decision in church, some rejoiced and some stayed quiet. I was one of the latter. Deep inside of me, I believed that surgery and medication are two of God’s ways of healing people. But at the same time, I was embarrassed to open my mouth lest I be accused of having such little faith. But I prayed hard, really hard, that God may use Sonia to glorify Him and that I may, in time, feel right about her decision.
About the same time, Brenda came into my life, unbidden. I didn’t know her from Adam. She was a friend of a friend who suddenly appeared in the e-group I shared with former colleagues in an advertising company. Our e-group had, that month, become a prayer circle for two ailing friends.
Suddenly, we got an e-mail from our moderator: “To advise you that I have just accepted into the group Brenda, a lung cancer patient. Nobody knows her in our e-group but she would like to join since she discovered we are ‘prayer warriors.’ Please . . . let’s make this an exception."
(To be continued tomorrow. I don't want to bore you with too many words—a resolve I have kept since I started blogging.)