Sarah and her wonderful family were our neighbors in NC. Their story still amazes me today. I was there living beside them during their journey with cancer. Many prayers were lifted from our home for their home.
I’ll never forget when we visited Jeff in the hospital after his surgery. His faith was so strong that me and Grant even talked about it on the way home. He radiated peace. It was all over him. He knew that God was going to take care of his family–despite the fact that he had been given a diagnosis of cancer, his wife was at home so weak in the bed from her aggressive chemo treatment, and their court date was that very day for the foreclosure on their home.
Oftentimes I prayed for the kids. I wondered how Sarah and Jeremy could take anymore. It is evident through Sarah’s testimony today that she was raised with the right focus. She was the backbone of the family while her parents were so weak. My prayer today is that you will realize that no matter what happens in your life–even when you are drowning in your circumstances–God has a better plan for His children.
December 11, 2012 will forever be marked as one of the worst days of my life. I had just finished the first semester of my junior year at Liberty University and I had no idea what adversities my family and I were about to face and what all God had planned for our lives. That day my mom was diagnosed with a rare bone cancer, Ewing’s Sarcoma. The weird thing about Ewing’s Sarcoma is that it’s normally only found in children and adolescents. It’s classified as a very aggressive cancer and due to the lack of research on Ewing’s Sarcoma in adults my mom’s journey of treatment seemed like a series of a trial and error process. My mom was treated with 5 different chemotherapy drugs for 14 cycles, which added up to about a year of chemo. Her schedule alternated between 2 different regimes; the first was 3 chemo drugs 5 days for 8 hours a day, and the second was 2 chemo drugs one 8 hour day and 48 hours with a pump that continuously pumped chemo into her. The cycles alternated every 2-3 weeks. She also received 31 radiation treatments. At the time our insurance was canceled due to my dad being self-employed and the harsh effects of the economy. I immediately made plans to move out of my apartment to help out and drive my mom back and forth to treatments. In the mean time I continued my education as a Liberty Online student.
As I watched my mom suffer through the weeks I felt helpless. Many times she was so sick and weak she couldn’t even get out of bed. Seeing my mom like this really broke me. Even though I didn’t let people see me cry I spent many of my nights crying, sometimes until morning, and asking God to heal my mom. I had peace that no matter what, life would be better sometime soon. In the mean time our house was going through foreclosure. A couple of months passed and we were all getting in the routine of things when my dad decided to get his stomach checked out. He had pain, lack of energy, and his complexion turned a grayish color. The doctor told him to go to the emergency room as soon as possible due to blood loss. On March 15, 2013 he came home, packed a bag, just in case he had to stay, and I drove him to the ER. My mom was on her bad week so she couldn’t go with us but my brother was home to take care of her. In my mind I knew it couldn’t be cancer. I mean, really. Whose family has two cancer patients at once? Well, mine did. Come to find out my dad had a softball sized tumor in his lower intestine. Stage III. Still no insurance and my dad would be out of work for a while.
March 15, 2013 was the day I gave up. I said, “you know what? This is getting ridiculous and something has to give.” I gave my worries, my fears, and my heartaches to God. As I drove home to give my mom the news I was completely in shock. I figured either my mom or dad would die or maybe even both. In my mind I knew that God was capable of healing both of my parents but I didn’t think He would. People go through their parents dying all the time, what makes me any different? My dad had surgery that week to remove the tumor. Afterwards we met with a doctor explaining that 6 months of chemo and radiation was in the near future. Our community pulled together and gave us two unbelievable fundraisers. I couldn’t believe the generosity of those people and I still can’t! Hundreds if not thousands of people were praying for us and helping us. Then a long line of awesome things happened!
The next week the doctors told us they were mistaken. My dad’s cancer was stage II instead of III and he would not need any treatment! Fortunately a person from our church also offered us a house to rent and several people from our church and community helped us move. Our church provided us with meals 3 days a week for months. Fast-forward to August and a family friend informed us of a teaching position at a local high school. My dad used to be a teacher several years before but stopped after becoming self-employed. That week my dad got the job and health insurance! God provided for us, every single need. When the beginning of December rolled around (the end of my mom’s chemo) tests showed that she was cancer free. Both of my parents were and still are! I can’t help but think of Matthew 6:25-26 when I reflect on 2013, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”
God is always good, even when times are not. While I wouldn’t want to relive it I am thankful for the lessons I learned in 2013. My faith was strengthened so much. For those who may be going through similar circumstances I want to encourage you to trust in the Lord at all times but especially in times of adversity. No matter what you may be going through it will never be too much for the Lord to carry. He will bring you through it!