Almost 20 years ago our daughter was diagnosed with cancer and started on a 6-9 month journey of surgery and chemotherapy to battle the disease. She was a senior in high school and had her whole life in front of her – if she could win the battle. Talk about hard times that test your character and faith.
When something like this happens, it is not just about the person battling cancer. So many others get sucked into the event and the ripple effect impacts so many other lives for decades to come. The challenge is to trust in God's plan and know that good will come of it – even if you can't seem to see it.
For us, as her parents, the important thing was not to panic. To turn to God and trust in him. Then to turn to the medical experts out there and do whatever it takes to deal with the challenge over the short term – even if it bankrupts you. It was hard on so many levels, but the situation drove us closer to God as we tried to maintain a sound family environment for our other kids, praying constantly, and persevering through it all. It made us stronger and more loving.
So many others were also impacted over the short term as my daughter's treatment proceeded. Her brothers and sisters were witness to the physical and spiritual challenges. Her classmates, boyfriend, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, and many other bystanders were witness to the struggle and how we handled it. They saw how there was no bitterness, blaming God, recriminations… just quiet trust, perseverance, and love.
I remember one evening at the high school football game when my daughter, the drum major for the marching band, was up there conducting – bald head and all. Afterward, an elderly gentleman asked my daughter why kids of her generation would shave their head. She didn't lash out, but simply told him she was battling cancer. He was humbled and made a point of looking her up at future games to check on her progress. She let God's love shine through her.
Over the long haul, so many other blessings emerged from her battle with cancer. When the treatment was all over, the next phase of her life began. Marriage, kids, work, divorce... and as the years unfolded she would tell us about the many times she encountered people at work or in the church that were also battling cancer in their lives. Because she had gone through similar trials, she was able to talk with them and help them deal with their ordeal – and not blame God.
The battle with cancer and the trials our family faced made us all better, more understanding and loving people. In the beginning we just had to trust in God and we only caught a glimmer of His long range plan for our lives. After 20 years, we have seen the many benefits and blessings that came out of the ordeal – and they keep on coming. Keep you eyes on God, persevere, and share your love.
Oh! My daughter is now 40, has two great children, happily remarried, active in the church, and doing well.