In September 2009, 11 years ago this month,  I was diagnosed with cancer and quickly scheduled for surgery. Thankfully the tumor was completely removed along with some unnecessary parts and also 13 lymph nodes that indicated the cancer had not spread farther than the tumor’s point of origin.

My outstanding doctor/surgeon was confident he had removed all the cancer, but he presented me a choice to receive follow-up chemotherapy or radiation. I trusted in my successful surgery with good test results of my lymph nodes and chose against negative effects of both chemo and radiation.

Even knowing my doctor would not pronounce me cancer-free for 5 years, I believed my worst was over. Based on my medical history, I was at risk for more cancer, but I concentrated on recuperating from surgery and learning to live as a cancer survivor.

I believed the Great Physician had my case under control. In His care I had gotten needed medical attention before it was too late. I had a highly skilled and experienced doctor, known for being one of the best anywhere. I was blessed with loving, supportive family and friends.

I believed in the power of prayer, which was a great comfort. I learned a deeper level of trust in that Great Physician, Who is a reliable Strength for living (or potentially facing death).

I still had personal medical history to consider. The fact of both parents and my only sibling having had terminal cancer is serious stuff to ponder. I was the sole survivor in my own little immediate family into which I was born. It was unpleasant to experience frequent tests, uncomfortable exams, and anxiously waiting each time for clear test results. After 5 years of this, my doctor, my hero, declared me, “…cancer-free” — at last! 

Throughout the experience there were reasons to be thankful, but this anticipated pronouncement was definitely answer to prayers. It was cause for emotional giving of thanks and of praising God. The day for which I had looked forward for 5 years had finally come. Now it is years in my past. I remember, and I’m still thankful.

My husband was always by my side and  drove me to out-of-town appointments for 5 years. We discovered a small restaurant near my doctor’s office. It was uncrowded and quiet and provided tasty food, friendly service, and reasonable prices. It instantly became a favorite place for lunch.

I looked forward to going there on appointment days. It was where we talked, planned, and felt hopeful for the future. I can say they serve comfort food, but there is more to it.

Sometimes couples need an escape from everyday routine to better connect. This was an unexpected positive aspect of my experience — serendipitous as one may say. I am thankful that we share those memories.

Now if we are in that town, we still go to our little restaurant for lunch. I remember the good old days and find humor and hope in describing any portion of a cancer experience that way.

No matter the problems or challenges, I never have to face them alone. Jesus Christ is my Help in any time of need. His promise to never leave me proves true. These truths come to mind as I ponder my past experiences that include one called  a devastating illness.

I also recall sharing lunch and  hope. May I always remember and be thankful.

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”  (Psalm 46: 1)

“Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits; Who pardons all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases.” 
(Psalm 103: 2, 3)

“For we know all things work together for good to those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose.”  (Romans 8: 28)

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