On a visit to my favorite second hand store recently, I started talking with one of the clerks. She is always so friendly and upbeat. This trip was different, though. I knew she was waiting for tests to come back to see if her brain cancer had returned, so I asked if she had received the results back from the test. Still smiling, while taking a big swallow, she informed me that the cancer was back. She had decided to not do treatment. My heart ached for her. She proceeded to wait on her customers with that same friendly voice as if nothing was different.
I also saw a news clip of another man getting bad news about cancer. On September 11, 2014, Illinois WCIA TV Anchorman Dave Benton announced he has terminal cancer, with only months to live. He announced it live on the program to all his fans. Benton said, "Basically, my cancer is back, and it's too big for surgery and radiation. Doctors have told me that I may have four to six months to live." Benton, who is married and a father of two adult children and also a Christian, said he's "at peace" with his diagnosis. “I believe that I am in God's hands...and I know that he's going to take care of the days ahead,"he added.
These are just two stories representing countless many that will have this news relayed to them. This year alone, there will be an estimated 1,665,540 new cancer cases diagnosed and 585,720 cancer deaths in the US. Cancer remains the second most common cause of death in the U.S., accounting for nearly 1 of every 4 deaths. Then there are the family members who also receive the diagnoses, which hit them emotionally as they try to cope with caring for their loved one.
God expects us to rally around and help those who are sick, to extend aid to the families of a sick loved one, to give them support and relief. My own mother-in-law succumbed to cancer in 2005, so I know all the emotions, while trying to help her through this deadly disease. While going through this, I ran across this poem that encouraged me and have sent out copies to others who are also going through this.
What Cancer Cannot Do
It cannot cripple love,
It cannot shatter hope,
It cannot corrode faith,
It cannot eat away peace,
It cannot destroy confidence,
It cannot kill friendship,
It cannot shut out memories,
It cannot silence courage,
It cannot reduce eternal life,
It cannot quench the Spirit,
It cannot lessen the power of the resurrection.
I learned that God will walk through the day with us holding our hand, catching our tears, and giving us great comfort. “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you" (Deuteronomy 31:6, NIV). Cancer cannot dash that hope that is in all of us. Always ask God to encourage you and send people into your life who will help you fight this battle. Our hope is in the new world coming where death, sickness, and sorrow will be trampled under Christ’s feet. While reflecting on this hope, remember what cancer cannot do.