When we bought our house in Rockwell in 2006 we were in for a treat. Our neighbors were the best! The Shafer’s, then a family of four, were very welcoming and giving. When I met Stacey I immediately knew she was so nice and kind with a strength wrapped in gentleness that I had never seen before. Over the years we became friends and did what neighbors do–we shared meals, borrowed eggs, played in the yard, and watched each others’ kids.
Little did I know we would do much more than that together.
In November 2012 we began a journey together. I won’t ever forget the day we were standing outside, the kids playing in a pile of leaves, when she told me to pray for her because she found a lump in her breast. I won’t ever forget the phone call on a Friday night where Stacey told me she had breast cancer. I won’t ever forget crying out to God for her and her family–now grown to a family of five. And I won’t forget the next day when her and Aaron came to our house to tell us all about the new diagnosis. Stacey kept it together better than I did. It just wasn’t fair.
The next week, I was diagnosed with melanoma. In the midst of her fresh diagnosis, she was so supportive and kind. She prayed for me–I know it. She had surgery in December and I had surgery in January. I believe her chemotherapy began the week I had surgery. Because of all the doctors appointments I didn’t get to be around or nearly as helpful to Stacey as I would have liked. But I prayed for her and her family over and over.
But one thing was for certain that I knew from the beginning. I knew she would fight through this nasty disease and even though it didn’t seem possible for her character to be any better, she would come out a better, stronger person.
She battled gracefully, just as expected. She never lost sight of The Great Physician and I watched her faith in Him grow as she was carried through her battle. I truly am blessed to have watched Stacey through my front windows. Every time I looked at their white house with blue shutters I prayed for the family inside. I admired her strength and now am so glad to have her share a small part of her journey with you today. As she has come through on the other side she has found her calling in life. She has discovered who God made her to be!
Discovering Who God Made Me to Be
In my high school years I worked at Subway and Eckerd Drugs. Interacting with customers and helping them with whatever they may need always brought me joy.
When I was young I didn’t mind going to the dentist. In fact I always thought being a dental assistant or hygienist would be a cool job. So when college time came I went to RCCC to become a dental assistant. I was blessed to be hired by Dr. Washko D.D.S. and worked with great people who are still my friends today. My heart loved my job and I loved helping patients there for three years.
Then marriage came, kids came and for the most part I have been a stay at home mom. A few jobs in-between also brought me in contact with helping others. I can honestly say I loved each job, even though they were totally different. Talking to clients when I worked at Bostian Retirement and Investments or helping someone find the right piece of jewelry working at Kohl’s, I truly found great happiness in what I was able to do for others. For one reason or another God didn’t put me at any of these jobs long term. The most important and hardest “job” I have ever had has been a stay at home mom. Aaron always supported me in this and financially God has always provided. My heart knew being a stay at home mom was what I was supposed to be doing, but I always questioned why my previous jobs didn’t last more than three years. I was really happy for the most part and loved the people I worked with. What is my purpose in this world, Lord? Can you just stand in front of me and tell me so when all the kids are in school I can just get right to it?
That was funny huh?! I wanted an answer, no waiting, just a flat out answer right then!
Let’s fast forward a little. I’m driving along, the sun is out, and it’s such a beautiful day. I just talked to Aaron on the phone feeling how much he loves me, Gabriel’s in the back seat sleeping (yes that’s why I had time to think). I’m on my way to pick up Grace and Grant from school. I couldn’t be happier in my life. I honestly thought in my head, “My life is perfect right now, I have been so blessed with so much happiness since Aaron and I met 11yrs ago. Something bad may happen soon and if it does will my life ever be this happy again?”
Fast-forward again. A few weeks later something “bad” did happen. I found a lump. Two weeks later I hear the words Breast Cancer, an aggressive kind. Wow this is really happening. From the very beginning of my Cancer Journey I felt a strong pull that God had a big plan for me in this. After all, I wasn’t going to go through losing my hair and not have something big come out of this. 😉 Yes, I felt this inside, but I knew not to rush it. At the age of 32 I had finally learned to TRUST GOD’S timing, not mine. One step at a time Stacey; one day at a time. Shock came first, then surgery, chemotherapy, losing my hair (I have to admit I miss my hats sometimes), radiation I had hoped not to have, and now reconstruction. A couple months after my radiation was completed I noticed my energy coming back a little at a time. I was able to play with Gabriel more without a nap every day. We could go out shopping and it wouldn’t wear me completely out. My life was coming back. I stepped back when God told me to while going through this journey. At the beginning of cancer my then-neighbor, AKA Grant Hinson, told me there were “Angel Armies” that would wrap their arms around me, they would be my strength when I had none. That’s exactly what happened. Ironically my verse for this week is Psalm 3:3 But you are a shield around me, O Lord; you bestow glory on me and lift up my head.
Now the story comes full circle. For six weeks now I have been living out my purpose in life. God blessed me with an opportunity to work in Oncology at Northeast for Levine Cancer Institute. I learned how to step back and pray about life. Lord what do YOU want me to do in this life for YOU? He answered and my heart knew I had to embrace it. I have already been able to reach out and help others along their cancer journey because of what the last year and a half has shown me. I can say “yes that’s me in that picture with the bald head just a year ago” and it gives them HOPE to see me sitting there with hair on my head, but most of all a smile on my face.
I will leave you with this. Some journeys in life are happier than others, but use every journey to discover who God made you to be.