December 7, 2023

Have you ever experienced a quiet, peaceful, almost perfect season in your life that filled your heart with just gratitude and contentment?
Last June, our family celebrated several milestones: our 30th wedding anniversary, my eldest child proposing to his partner, my middle child’s graduation in college, my youngest child’s academic achievement, and our second grandchild being dedicated to God. Everything was going well, even our respective careers were doing very well. My husband also received a huge blessing from God that we thought would enable us to add to the savings we were putting aside for the property we have been praying for, for many years. Until a series of challenges, like waves after waves, came our way.
It was a typical day, when my 83-year-old mom and I were preparing lunch when all of a sudden her left knee felt weak and she fell on her left hip and broke her bones. That was the beginning of our obstacles to hurdle. She was in excruciating pain for seven days.
I couldn’t make sense of what was happening. It was heartbreaking to see a loved one suffering, it somehow puts you in the same agony. We were emotionally unprepared for something like this, and the only way we knew how to cope and manage the situation was to seek comfort, guidance, and strength first from our God, then our family and friends.
Mom was old and weak. She had very low tolerance of pain, and she was almost giving up. Her partial hip replacement surgery was risky because of her co-morbidities, but God in His mercy and grace, taught me not to ask why this had to happen, but what was He trying to tell or teach us, and how can this turn out to be for His glory.
Miraculously, He pulled us through. The operation went well and her therapy started a week after. She was determined to walk again. Many people, some even strangers, were used by God to bless us with their kind words of encouragement, support, and help in different ways. Mom came out as a stronger person than she was before the accident. Everyone was grateful for her new chance in life. We felt victorious after trusting in God that in the midst of mom’s pain and our anxieties, He would be there with us. He had gone before us. We were utterly grateful.
However, just when you thought that the waves have calmed down and the storm was gone, two weeks after mom’s surgery, I discovered a lump on my breast. We were having our family devotion and Bible study when I felt it. I told my husband and my kids and so we prayed about it. The next day, I immediately went to my doctor to have it checked. That was the start of my cancer journey.
On the first week of August, I had a mammogram and a sonogram. The radiologist, upon seeing the results, immediately recommended a biopsy and I was referred to a surgical oncologist. On Aug. 11, I was in the hospital for lumpectomy or breast preservation surgery and axillary lymph node removal. The biopsy showed malignancy: invasive mucinous carcinoma, triple positive, stage 1 grade1. I consulted four medical oncologists who would explain and suggest a plan of treatment, which I discovered, varies for every different kind of cancer. I was advised to choose someone I would be comfortable with and someone I would trust for the whole treatment. I settled with the one who explained it best and who was recommended by my trusted friend and my cardiologist.
The cycles of treatment were already put into place. We started on the first week of September. So many questions were still running through my head. “How would I take care of mom if I would be sick?” “Why me?”“Why cancer?” “Why now? Can we just reschedule it when I’m ready?”
Not knowing what’s going to happen next, I was always reminded by God of what He taught me when mom met the accident: don’t ask why, instead ask what and how. What could He be teaching me and my family this time? How can this illness bring glory to God’s name? Those questions kept me grounded in God when the waves of fear would overwhelm me. My prayers became more intense as my emotions seem to be in a roller coaster ride. Meditating on God’s words and remembering God’s numerous miraculous interventions and saving grace in my life kept me sane, joyful, and in peace.
But in the middle of September, another wave hit us. My sister-in-lawwas also diagnosed with colon cancer. She was confined in the hospital for almost a month and spent a couple of days in the ICU. My husband was starting to get sick from all the pressures, worried about me and my family, now her sister, and of course their elderly mom who stood by them all their life when their dad passed away when he was just seven. All the burden was on him and it worried me a lot. Our family was perplexed, and many people were already asking me, why are all these happening to us?
In my mind, I am wondering too, what is God about to do after all these storms? But instead of questioning, our family reached out to God all the more during this time. We reached out to people to pray with us. It was literally overwhelming, but again, God miraculously answered our prayers. She was discharged from the hospital with no bills to pay and cleared from any complications, although she also has to go through chemotherapy and physical therapy. This was another victory in this season of challenges.
Meanwhile, just this week, I had my third out of six cycles of chemotherapy. I still have a long way to go. Being HER2 positive, it means that I have the protein human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 that makes the cancer cells spread and multiply fast. Because of that, an additional 18 cycles of targeted treatment needs to be done. And being ER and PR positive means that the hormones estrogen and progesterone receptors are also present, so five years of hormonal treatment will also follow.
I have begun to feel the changes in my body: hair loss, darkening of the skin, weakness or fatigue, and loss of appetite that further results to weight loss too. The discomfort or side effects I experience, though less than what I hear from cancer patients’ stories, still bring about worry and fear.
The one that frightens me most is having a heart condition that could be affected by the treatment. The daily emotional ride makes me suddenly wail and cry and make me feel depressed sometimes, but knowing that God is with me; that He has a plan for my life; that He has gone before me; that this is His battle and not mine, I bounce back in faith and find my joy and peace being confident that whatever the outcome of this journey, it will be in victory.
With His abounding grace and overflowing love and mercy, with the love and support of my family, friends, fellows pink warriors (cancer patients) and even random people I meet, I am able to face each day with a smile. I take it one day at a time. I hold on to God’s promises that He will be with me and He will never forsake or abandon me.
With each wave that the enemy brings to take me down, the Lord sends even stronger and bigger waves of love and grace to assure me that everything will be fine and nothing, not even cancer, can snatch me away from his hand, that is my confidence, because I am His child.
You are loved by God, too. If you’re enjoying a peaceful contented life, praise God for that. However, ifyou are facing storms and challenges in life, no matter how dim and dark tomorrow may seem, know that you don’t have to face it alone. God can rescue you. God will be with you.
“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land (2 Chronicles 7:14).