Cancer and Joy - God's Compensations


NO ONE WANTS CANCER! But after the initial shock of discovering I have cancer, I concluded that God was with me in this journey. Consequently, I could expect God to reveal Himself to me every step of the way, in small and great ways. Cancer is something that all of us fear – dread – don’t want – think will never happen to us, especially if we’ve been good about check ups, doctor’s appointments, etc. Which I always had been! But, it can happen to any of us - as I’ve just found out. There are no guarantees in life – young, old, in between, there are things we all go through. There are days when I still think this is a bad dream, and I’m going to wake up. It’s still a challenge to say the words – “I have cancer.”

I’ve found in my life that I go through seasons, good seasons, hard seasons, seasons I wish I didn’t have to go through. I’m in that third category now: cancer and chemo-therapy.

I have moments of courage in facing this season, and I have moments of weakness in thinking, ‘How in the world am I going to get through this?’

It’s not at all the season I was planning. My husband and I live in South Africa. We were in the midst of planning an extended visit to the U.S. to see family and friends, especially looking forward to time with the grandkids! We hadn’t been back for a visit like this for 2 years.

Then suddenly, cancer.

As much as I wish I wasn’t in this season, I have to say I’m finding small joys along the way.

That includes friends praying for me. I feel very “carried” by them. And I feel enveloped in peace and comfort from the Lord.

I guess the thing that has been most surprising to me is the moments of joy I’ve experienced. I’m calling them my “unexpected joys.” Even though God has given me wonderful gifts of joy all through life, I needed to open my eyes and heart to receive that in this difficult season. Once I did that – wow! I’ve had lots of it. I see and experience joy daily. Joy didn’t disappear because I have cancer. In fact, I think I’m more aware of it because it’s such a contrast to the heaviness of cancer.

God is the wonderful, gracious giver of joy in every season we walk through. There are moments I actually don’t want joy. I just want to curl up and sleep, hoping when I wake up that it has all gone away. But there it is, intervening, waking my soul to His goodness.

I learned many years ago that even in the hardest circumstances in life, I can look for the little things God brings to show His goodness. They are what I call “God’s compensations.” In so many ways He reminds me that He is “just in all His ways and kind in all His doings.” I’m finding His compensations of joy all around me in this season of cancer. They stare me in the face every day.

I’ll be sharing my “unexpected joys” on this blog. Being able to do that brought an immediate, unexpected anticipation: what will God do next that I can share with you? In the midst of it all, the pain, the nausea, the sleepless nights, there is a small stream of hope flowing through this hard season, breathing life into me.

“Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”   Psalm 30:5

Cancer and Joy - The Wrap-Around Presence


One thing I certainly never thought about doing in life is the day I would walk into the chemo-therapy room - and I would be the patient. I had no idea what to expect or what would be happening to me. I had several surprises in store for me on this day that felt overwhelming.  When I was leaving home that morning, a friend met me at our gate and handed me a huge gift bag with the label “Sally’s hospital boredom gift bag.”  It contained all kinds of little items to help me get through the day. What a joy! I was so touched by her love and thoughtfulness…and it really helped: a devotional book, sweet lozenges, puzzle books to relieve the boredom, and more goodies.

When we arrived at the hospital, I quickly realized I was being treated in a world-class chemo program. Everything was very organized, very professional.

Then there was my delightful nurse, Lulu.  She patiently walked me through everything that happened to me. I’ve experienced some not so patient and not so kind nurses in my life, so Lulu was a true joy! She made me feel secure and cared for.

The steps in chemo-treatment may be mundane but they all have their place:

First. antihistamine in my bum – the right place for that!

Then a long list of IV drips, one after the other for about 6 hours:- Steroid

- Something to line the tummy - Anti-nausea - 1st chemo/2 bags – 3 hours - Saline - 2nd chemo - More saline

The chemo immediately felt “heavy” entering my body. I could feel the effect of it all the way into my legs. I had questions  because of things I was experiencing, and Lulu answered every question. She was so kind, and caring.  What a gift she was.

I was the 2nd person to arrive that day – and the last one to leave 6 hours later.

Most of the people in the chemo-treatment room were alone. That was a surprise to me. It was a comfort to have my husband, Floyd, with me. So many patients came in by themselves, looking frightened and desolate. Some of them looked like they were on death’s door already.

I read, talked with Floyd, napped a bit, snacked, pulled my IV to the bathroom. ☺ It all went by fairly quickly. Someone had sent me a verse from The Passion translation of the Bible that used the phrase “the wrap around presence” of the Lord. During the day I realized I felt that “wrap around” sweet sense of His closeness. A day I dreaded and didn’t know what to anticipate was actually okay. I wasn’t alone in it and He brought unexpected joys to me all along the way.

“It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”        Deut. 31:8