It’s been said that cancer can be beaten. Is that always true? I mean, people die from it. So didn’t cancer beat them? I want share some lessons I learned from two important people. This is how to defy cancer.
On June 4, 2012, my friend Joanne Tremblay passed away from cancer. On July 28, 2012, my mom Elizabeth Cook passed away from cancer. Two people that I have loved deeply and I’m humbled to have had the opportunity to walk alongside, in the final year of their lives. I am just beginning to process the lessons I have learned from these two amazing women.
Theories are tools for understanding, explaining and making predictions about a certain subject. There is one theory, with a widespread consensus, which states that cancer can be beaten. If you believe this theory, and you have cancer, it’s possible to make your entire purpose for existing to beat cancer. Potentially, you could give cancer all of your money, time and energy.
Faith In The Face of Cancer
Observing my mom and my friend Joanne – their response to their illness – gave me tremendous insight. Their mission was to prove, in alternate ways, that cancer can be beaten because cancer has no power over God.
Faith, not cancer, defined their entire existence and taught me these valuable lessons:
Hating and fighting cancer – or any terminal illness, is a waste of time and precious energy. Don’t get me wrong, I support the right to access treatments. Certain procedures are not only God-given blessings, they can also enhance the quality of and possibly prolong one’s lifespan. However, giving your life to the battle of cancer will rob you of life.
You can’t beat death – it can’t be done. However – death need not come before it’s time.
Four ways to defy terminal illness
Trust in God.
Cancer is powerless over a faithful God. On the day that Joanne received her diagnosis, it was Jesus words, “I will be with you forever,” not the Dr’s death sentence, that influenced her determination. Joanne made a decision: to trust in God for His promises. She believed that God could heal her, whether removing the cancer from her sick body, or removing her spirit from her cancer ridden body.
Rather than placing her hope in medicine or even faith healing, Joanne defied cancer by trusting in God for the outcome.
Live your life despite illness.
Cancer is powerless to prevent you from going on with your life. On the day that mom was diagnosed, she decided that she was going to live – for whatever time she had left. A wise decision because it’s a sad thing to be living, yet dead inside.
Mom spent the following 12 months living out her commitment. Last summer, enjoying the sun-drenched beaches, with their breath-taking views. She spent warm Okanagan evenings listening to music in the local parks. She went out to dinner, and, despite the hair loss, she got dressed up to go out. She looked radiant. She took the time to inhale the aromas, savor mouthfuls, slowly sipping her her drinks. She relished precious family gatherings, finding joy and fulfillment in listening to the conversations, without needing to be heard. She even braved the supermarkets and grocery shopping, so she could maintain some normalcy. Much of what we often take for granted, she took the time to appreciate.
My mom defied cancer by living, rather than dying before her time.
Know your God-given purpose.
Cancer is powerless over a purpose-driven life. Both of these women understood that. From the day that they were diagnosed, their commitment to serve God was immovable. Cancer, in fact, may have actually served to fuel their passion.
We think of serving and we think action, however, when you are sick action can be impossible. Serving is always an attitude, but not always demonstrated by action. With a single focus, they made sure that their illness and death was as easy, as possible, on those of us who loved them and cared for them. They never complained about their pain, not even to the nurses. They never wanted to be a bother to anyone. Mostly, they didn’t want us to know when they were suffering. They didn’t want us to worry.
My Mom and Joanne defied cancer by continuing to serve.
Rely on the power of Christ, not your own.
Small “c” cancer is powerless against the big “C” Christ. Cancer may be able to stop the body from functioning (if God allows it), but one thing it can never kill is the spirit.
On the morning that my Mom passed away, Kevin, one of the Pastors from my church, came in to her room to pray with dad and I. He took one look at Mom and said, “well we know Beth’s spirit is no longer here because her smile is gone.” The spirit goes on to live eternally, in one place, or the other.
I’ve lost most of my fear of death and dying doesn’t seem quite so mysterious anymore, because of these two women. Cancer can be beaten – it’s not a theory, it’s a fact. I can hear my mom saying, “I don’t want anyone being sad. I’m not dead, I’m fully alive and completely free”.
“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” ~ John 14:1-3.
My mom and Joanne defied cancer.
They are alive and in heaven, not because of all the good things they did. They are there because of one critical decision that each of them made: they didn’t know the way to Heaven – no one does, so they put their trust in the one who could get them there – Jesus. Have you?
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