Recently a sister in the Lord requested that I post my testimony on this website. It is not my intent to bring attention to myself at the cost of drawing attention away from the Lord, but He has done some awesome things in my life, and perhaps the story should be told. So, here you go Tracy.
I was raised on the second pew, church twice on Sunday and every Wednesday night. It was a holiness church, extremely concerned over whether or not women should cut their hair, and wear makeup, jewelry and Leviís. As a small child I thought that Jesus was for Sunday School kids, but when you got older and went to the adult classes, then you would learn about God. And Jezebel was evil because she wore makeup. I had no idea how to become born again, only that a Christian should weep at the altar for an hour or so every Sunday night, but I didnít know why. Oh yeah, and also that your Bible shouldnít be dusty when Jesus returned, so I kept mine dust-free.
My dad died when I was ten (yes, I am sure he is in heaven), my mother married someone else, we moved to another city and we were away from that church. In high school, one of my closest friends was the daughter of a Baptist pastor and I enjoyed visiting her church, but I still didnít have the concept. Richard was the president of Voice of Christian Youth and he began to talk with me about salvation. The day came when we went into an empty classroom and I prayed to receive the Lord. I remember being concerned about being late to English class, but Richard wasnít. When we were finished he went directly to the teacher, spoke a word in his ear, and that teacher broke out in an ear-to-ear grin. At the time, I had no idea he was also an ordained Baptist minister!
I may have been truly born again at that time, but I am not certain of that. I began dating a fellow who was reading Edgar Cayce, so I read him too, and that began my journey in the occult. I had always been interested in knowing what was in the future and this seemed to be a good way to find out. A few years later I married someone else, and we had friends who were involved in spiritualism. We would visit their church and attend seances and see things of the spirit, but I had no idea what spirit it was, just assumed it was God. I had lots of books. I remember going into the local occult bookstore one day and telling the proprietor that I had a good understanding of the occult, but could he please refer me to any writings that presented any other view. He said, "Certainly NOT!!" He was SO offended.
When I was approaching thirty the Lord began to deal with me, or rather, I began to KNOW he was dealing with me. I knew about repentance: I would list my sins nightly to the Lord, asking for forgiveness, but having no clue about how to receive. The Lord began to send believers across my path: another elementary school mother who sweetly and gently told me that the witch books at the school book fair were Satanic, and of course, all those pesky Baptists who kept coming to the door. I would lie to them, tell them I was Catholic or something, and their beliefs did not involve me. Finally, I just decided to tell the truth. A couple of Baptist kids came to the door and I told them I was involved in the occult. They were horrified. They literally stepped back from my door. They said to me, "Donít you know that is an abomination to God?!?" I replied that no, I surely did not know that. They told me the Bible said so, I asked where, and they said they didnít know, but if I would give them my phone number they would have their pastor call me with the reference. Well. This was a new thing, and I gave them the number. I received a phone call and was given Deut. 18:10-12. I located my Bible (which was very dusty) and looked it up. Sure enough, there it was.
One day I was having coffee with three friends and we began to talk about what would happen after we died: Mary was catholic and expected to go to purgatory; Sharon was a total nonbeliever and expected to stop existing; I said I planned to be reincarnated. Then Ronnie spoke. She told us she didnít plan to die, instead, Jesus was going to take her to heaven at the rapture. This was news to all of us; something brand new, and we asked Ronnie to explain. Now, Ronnie was a Baptist and she filled us in but good.
Some time later I was alone in my living room doing a needlepoint project and watching the movie Grease on television. It was a very peaceful evening, the house was clean, the kids were asleep and my husband was in the basement working on a project. I would do a few stitches, look up at the TV, do a few more, look up again, and so on. The last time I looked up there were two large slanty blue eyes looking back at me out of bottom of the TV screen. While I had repeatedly asked my god not to show himself to me, he apparently decided that he would do so anyway. And it quite literally scared the hell right out of me. That TV was turned off and I scooted to the basement to sit with my husband until time for bed. I told him I was going to church the following Sunday, I wanted to take the kids, and asked if he would go with me. Now my husband had been raised Catholic, and he said no, the religious training of the kids was up to the wife and he didnít want to hear anything about it, which was totally reasonable to me, because frankly, I didnít want to hear anything about it either. But I had just had a life-changing experience and I was GOING to church because those Baptist kids had clued me in to where I could find the answers.
The following Sunday the kids and I visited the church that one of my neighbors attended. No, it wasnít Baptist, it was Word of Faith. And I was truly born again that day. What a thrill when Jesus came into my life. I came home and my husband smirked and asked how it was. Now, he had previously said he didnít want to hear about it, so I just said, "fine." I began to read the Bible, and right away I found I Pet. 3:1. I knew this was the answer where my husband was concerned and I kept my silence.
The second Sunday at church was completely a song service. The singer said there were people present who were holding resentment against others present and the Lord wanted us to go to that person right then and make it right. I wondered how he knew that a girl that I completely detested was a member at that church. I had seen her the previous week but she hadnít seen me, and I knew where she was sitting at that moment. I rose from the seat and went to her, and with tears, there was mutual forgiveness toward each other and that intense dislike just melted away. I spoke with her on the phone later in the week and she said that when the singer made that statement there was only one person on earth who she felt that way about, it was me, and there was no way in the world it was going to be made right that day. She was stunned when there I was. Later that week I found out that the Lord had done something unusual (for me anyway) at that same time. He had made a clean sweep. For years I had detested my stepfather. Hatred is not too strong a word. In a conversation with a friend I opened my mouth to say something ugly about the man, and nothing came out. It was completely gone. Obedience is a very good thing. Eventually my dad and I became good friends.
During the second week of my salvation my husband stormed into the living room one evening and yelled, "I want to know whatís going on and I want to know right now!" He then ACCUSED me of having changed. He said, "You stopped swearing!!" I said, no, I HADNíT, he said, yes, you HAVE! I thought about that for a moment, and realized it was true. Then I got the big grin. My husband had just DEMANDED that I witness to him. So I obeyed and told him that I had given my life to Jesus Christ and this is the way I was going to be from then on. He left the room and nothing further was said until Saturday night, when he said, "Make sure I have clean clothes for tomorrow." I asked if he was going with us to church, and he said yes. My husband was born again that day.
Now the only reference book I had ever heard about was Crudenís Concordance, so I went to the Christian bookstore, bought a copy, and began to look up those references we all know about: cleanliness is next to godliness - wasnít there; God helps those who help themselves - wasnít there. I decided it might be a good idea to read the book and see what it actually does say. Went straight to Revelation and came to a quick conclusion that this might not be the place to begin. So I simply read the Word and then began to study the book. The day came when I told the Lord I didnít care what I had ever heard, been taught, or dreamed up on my own: if it didnít match His Word, I didnít want it. It wasnít too long before I was teaching Bible studies, first a group of friends who hadnít run away when I was saved. I was so excited to have found the Lord and, naturally, I assumed all my friends would be too. Surely they would want this same thing. Wow. That didnít happen. Neighbors would avoid me. They stopped inviting us to their backyard cookouts. They made nasty comments about us having joined a cult. But when the storms came, they came running for prayer and we were glad to do it.
We left the first Word of Faith church and began attending another. About three years into my walk I became concerned about deception. I told the Lord I had been deceived in the past, I didnít want that to happen again, and if any of my beliefs were not correct, I wanted him to show me. Within twenty-four hours a friend walked through my door and handed me the Deception of Christianity by Dave Hunt. I read that book in about two days, then I put away the other books and tapes, turned off the televangelists, and sat down at the table with nothing but the Bible, Strongís Concordance, and the Holy Spirit. For several weeks I did word studies, phrase studies, checked and double-checked the context of passages. And at the end of that time, my beliefs had changed. I rejected Ďname it, claim ití and gained freedom from the bondage of that belief system. I became free to make my requests known to God instead of telling him what he was supposed to do. I could actually tell him, "I have a problem, please help me find the answer." And he would respond.
Life went on. The kids grew. I was involved in various ways in the churches we attended: working in the nursery, teaching the youth group, teaching adult Bible studies at mid-week services. At one church the pastor made me sing (because no one else would do it!). Now, I have absolutely no vocal range, and the voice isnít exactly like the angels. So I would get up there and tell the Lord, "You know I canít sing, so youíre going to have to do this," and I would block out all those people and just sing to the Lord. Just Him and me. If the people were blessed (and some said they were), it was only because they had been involved in a personal worship. It didnít always go like that. One Easter morning, lots of extra people in the congregation, I got up to sing Who Will Call Him King of Kings. A beautiful song. The soundtrack had two sides, one in a low key and the other higher, and the key rises toward the end of the song. It was a real stretch for me to sing it in the lower key. Well, my husband, God bless him, put the tape in the machine on the wrong side. As soon as the music started I knew I was in trouble. Oh, we would do okay at the beginning of the song, but at the end, if there was any voice at all, it was going to sound like a screechy violin badly played. Iím fairly sure I heard the Lord say, "Lighten up!" I gave it the old college try, but as that key went up I started to laugh. And so did the folks in the pews. At the end (yes, I took it all the way - for the glory of God!) I apologized to them for ruining their Easter song and they forgave me. It was glorious.
Life went on. The kids grew. There was a job loss. For a period of time we survived on prayer. We would make our needs known to the Lord and he would meet them. He provided. Sometimes food, sometimes money, and we tithed every bit of it. I remember one Sunday putting sixty dollars in the offering, and before the day was over someone came to the door and handed me sixty dollars. She said she didnít know why it was sixty dollars, but that was the amount she knew she had to give. I remember one evening sitting down to dinner and it was the last food in the house. We prayed over that food and told the Lord we didnít know what was going to happen next, but we knew he would provide. Before we finished the meal someone came to the door with boxes of groceries. We did not lack for anything.
In partnership with a fellow who was not a believer, my husband started a business. Things went well for several years, then the business blew apart. At that point, I had to get a job, so in 1996 I went to work for the fellow who had been our corporate attorney. I loved that job (and still do - I still work there), but I allowed that job to take priority in my life. I was not out doing drugs or drinking or any of that stuff, but I allowed that job to take the position in my life that only the Lord should have. My kids got married, I wasnít needed full-time at home, and I was working 55-60 hours each week. I was too busy and too tired to continue with personal Bible study and I stopped teaching.
From time to time I recognized that the Lord was trying to get my attention, but until October 2003 I pushed him away. At that time I understood that it was time to get my spiritual life together. And just in time. My son-in-law was diagnosed with a tumor in one of his vertebrate which required surgical correction. Aha, this was why I needed to get right with God: so I could pray for Chris without any hindrance. And pray I did. Thankfully, the tumor was benign and today Chris is fine, although he does still have back pain.
It was at that same time that some physical symptoms in my own body were making their presence felt, and those symptoms continued to grow more intense. Something was wrong. My husband was unemployed and we had no health insurance, so I did not see a doctor. In February and March 2004 the Lord nudged me to pull out and update a Bible study I had done about eight years earlier. (That study is under the Times and Seasons link on this website.) I did as I was directed, and learned some new things. I was convinced that we were, at that point, a maximum of eighteen months from the rapture (revised since then). My symptoms continued to grow worse. My back ached, my uterus hurt, there was constant nausea, and the pain was getting more intense by the day. The time came when I purchased health insurance because I knew this was going to be expensive.
The insurance policy went into effect on April 10, 2004, and on April 12 I saw my internist for the first time in about ten years. Very simply, I donít get sick. This whole thing was foreign to me. He listened to my list of symptoms, what happened when, and as he listened his eyes grew wider and his mouth went into that "O" shape. Not a good sign. He did a physical exam, told me I needed a hysterectomy, and referred me to a Ďgynecologic surgeoní. The next day I called the surgeonís office to make the appointment and discovered he was not a run-of-mill gynecologic surgeon, he was a gynecological oncologist at the cancer center.
I immediately told my boss who I had been referred to, and he said, "No matter what, you have to keep a good attitude." I told him that it would take a day or two for me to get my feet back on the ground, but when I did, he was going to see attitude like heíd never seen before. I knew it was cancer, probably ovarian because of the pain I had on the right side, and I was going to die. I went running to my Father. I told him, "I canít do this one. Youíre going to have to do it for me. Iím giving it to you." The short version is: I did and He did. I told Him, "Iíd like to live, nevertheless, not my will but Thine be done." And I prepared to die.
Up until that day, my life was like a sweater that I had given to the Lord, but I was holding a crochet hook that was hanging onto one loop of yarn in that sweater. That day, I dropped the crochet hook. I Cor. 6:19-20 became absolute reality to me: "What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's." I recognized that, just as the Bible says, I do not own me, I had absolutely no control over my life, I cannot make my heart take its next beat or my lungs take their next breath or cancer to simply disappear. I had absolutely no control, and never did have any, so it was only reasonable to get with the program and tell the Lord to take the life and do with it exactly as He willed. So I did and He did. He came into my life in a new way that I had never experienced before, and when He did, He brought with Him His peace and His joy.
One week later I was diagnosed with stage 3b cervical cancer, not ovarian cancer. (Hereís a lesson: never let me diagnose your cancer - or your car troubles - because I do tend to get it wrong.) Cervical cancer. Not the one that is caused by a virus, no, I had lung cancer in the wrong organ. There was concern about my lungs. Normally cancer will begin in the primary site then metastasize elsewhere. Not in my case. I had cancer, as my doctor says, Ďweird cancer,í in the wrong organ. It was bad. It was a very advanced, aggressive and fast-growing cancer. The tumor was massive: it had destroyed the cervix, descended one-third of the way down the vagina, extended to the pelvic wall, grew up between the bladder and the bowel (was actually stuck to those organs), and it involved the ureters (those important tubes that connect the kidneys to the bladder), but it had not invaded any other organs. There were also two swollen lymph nodes that were indicative of cancer but no biopsy was done - it was agreed that they were cancerous.
Diagnosis and treatment lasted three months. I was at the hospital and/or the cancer center every day except weekends and holidays. Initially there was work to be done to prepare for radiation, which included tiny tattoos for the purpose of lining up the lasers. I told my tattoo artist that I was going to tell everyone they were micro works of classic art. There was surgery to place stents in those ureters. I thought 100% function was just fine, but the urological oncologist thought 25% on one side and 75% on the other just wouldnít do. A few days later, they began radiation (thirty-seven total treatments) and chemotherapy (two rounds, three days each). After five weeks, a radiation implant was done, but it had to be discontinued because half of the needles became displaced between the first and second treatment, and the pain involved in the attempt to re-seat those needles was finally just too intense. I'm fairly sure that I suggested to the Lord two or three times that evening that it would be good if he just came and got me. He didn't. So they followed that with an additional twelve radiation treatments on the big-time machines.
I was bald as a cue-ball for six months, but I had options: I had lots of cute hats and when I felt like wearing hair, I was blonde! My little granddaughter had just turned four when this happened, and I told her mother there was no way we were going to avoid her seeing me bald, and I would rather it was controlled the first time. My wonderful daughter-in-law agreed, so the next time they came over I told little sweetie I could take my hair off. She said, "Noooo!" I said, "Yes! Want to see?" She said, "Yeah, take your hair off," so I pulled off the wig. She laughed so hard. She said, "Gramma! You so silly! Put your hair back on!!!" (Then she wanted to know if it hurt. lol) It was a great moment. After that, whenever she came over and caught me bald, she would say, "Gramma, you need a hat. Iíll get you one," and she would come with hats for both of us. (We actually had a couple that matched.) I was determined that if there was any joy to be had during this situation we were going to find it.
I know I had miracles: I never threw up even once, and there was no burning of the skin from the radiation. But it was not a walk in the park. The treatment basically turned everything internal from my waist to the tops of my thighs into hamburger. Nothing worked as it should. There was exhaustion. For three months, if I wasnít at the hospital or at work or at points in between, I was generally asleep. Work? Yep. I averaged about twenty-five hours weekly right through cancer treatment, although I did lose about a week after the implant. There was one trip to the emergency room for a nosebleed right at the critical point following the second round of chemo. It was shortly after midnight and I was online. I wiped my nose, but the moisture did not stop. I took a look, and thought, "Oh no." I had no platelets so the blood didnít want to clot. I waited about ten minutes, but no, it didnít stop, it was running like a faucet. So I called emergency and they told me to get right over there. Woke up my husband, then I had to get dressed. Now, some pieces of clothing can be handled very well with one hand, but as the ladies all know, others canít. There was nothing to do except lean over the bathroom sink while I hooked and pulled, laughing the whole time. Ridiculous. Totally. But thatís what it took.
So. Where was the Lord during this whole experience? He was carrying me in his arms while he walked on the water in the eye of my personal hurricane. And I loved it. Those three months were the most awesome, stunning time of my life. I had learned what it is to totally submit to the Lord, to rely completely on Him and His will. I had a Third Day CD, Offerings II, and I played that CD everyday while driving to work, laughing and singing and rejoicing and praising God the whole time. The one song was this: Thy love, oh Lord, reaches to the heavens; Thy faithfulness, stretches to the stars; Thy righteousness is like a might mountain; Thy justice flows like the oceanís tides; I will lift my voice to worship you my King; I will find my strength in the shadow of your Hand. There was also Creed. The entire CD. Really great.
There were some dark moments. The enemy surely did come. But when he did, I went looking for someone to witness to. And there were lots of them. Radiation is scheduled, which means you meet the same people, other patients, everyday. There were my people at work who were watching this thing that was happening. They saw laughter, and they all heard the glory given to God on a daily basis.
For three months I saw medical people, doctors, technicians, lots of folks, but I didnít see them smile. As it turned out, they all expected me to die. That wasnít news: I expected the same thing. About five weeks into the process I was laying in bed one night, and this thought entered my mind: you havenít asked for a miracle. It may have been the Lord. I wasnít certain of that, but I responded, "Youíre right. I havenít asked. Guess Iíd better." And I asked the Lord for a miracle. "Iíd like to live. Nevertheless, not my will but Thine be done. I am determined in this: no matter how it turns out, the glory will go to you!"
Four months after the end of treatment I had to see all three oncologists (gynecologist, radiologist, and urologist) for the first post-treatment check-ups. I had had a new CT scan, and one by one, they all said the same things, "Significant response to treatment, no sign of active cancer, significant shrinkage of the tumor, you are in excellent physical condition." And then: "I didnít expect to see this!!" Three doctors, for the first time showing ear to ear grins. Each one received the same response from me, "You guys did your jobs, and I thank you. But Iíve got to tell you, God himself was personally involved in this case!" Three doctors, men who deal with death and disease on a daily basis, expressed complete agreement with my statement. My gynecologist took it further. He told me he could have two patients come in with the exact same thing, one will do just terrible, "But the other one is you! It has to be what you said!"
Yes. It was the Lord God. My life is in his hands. He owns me. I wouldnít have it any other way. And apparently He was not quite finished with me yet. He determined that I should live a little longer. There were things to be done. (This website is one of them.) The people that I see every day have pretty much given up accrediting my recovery to a strong will, or mind over matter, or that I didnít die because I refused to. Kind of hard to maintain when I tell them straight out that indeed I had expected to die. The doctors still will not allow me to say I am a cancer survivor or that I am cancer-free, and they have not given a prognosis. It is simply unknown. They have agreed that if cancer returns it generally does so at about two years from diagnosis. In April 2006 I passed the two-year mark since original diagnosis. About a month before, I had a PetCT scan from my forehead to my knees, and there was no sign of cancer, but there was still hesitation regarding prognosis, and as it turned out, for good reason.
At the end of March 2006 my husband was diagnosed with a giant basilar aneurysm: it was the size and shape of an egg sitting right in the middle of his brain. There were two surgeries in the attempt to save his life, but on June 26, 2006 my husband of 34 years went home to be with the Lord, and once again we experienced the presence of the Lord when his children need him the most. I do not feel that I have been left alone, because the Lord is with me.
And I am so glad of that, because in October it was discovered that the cancer had metastasized in my brain. At the middle of the month I experienced what I call a 'brain cloud' - I lost my ability to read for a few short minutes. Because this was so strange, I went ahead and saw my internist two days later, he began testing for mini stroke, and a CT scan was done of my brain, which showed a 1.5 cm 'lesion'. An appointment was made with a neurosurgeon, but I didn't make it. Two days after the CT scan I had a complete seizure while getting ready to go home from work, and six days later I had a craniotomy (that means they cut a large hole in my skull leaving me with an awesome scar which everyone likes to see - lol) and the tumor was removed. The biopsy showed that the cancer had indeed returned. Surgery was followed by fourteen whole brain radiation treatments, but no chemo because there is a blood/brain barrier and it would not have been helpful. Because of the radiation directly to the head I am bald again, and this time it will be permanent in patches, which is fine with me. I have pulled out my hats (and added some new ones), pin-on big pin-on roses made by my talented daughter, and go on out to face the world, rejoicing in the Lord every step of the way. Those flowers and the big smile result in return smiles from nearly everyone I see, and sometimes conversations occur with strangers that lead to me telling them about the cancer and how the Lord continues to carry me through the problems that come along. I love telling folks that they are looking at proof that Jesus is real and he is coming SOON.
This past episode has been quite an experience. The tumor was on the left side of the brain so there are memory issues to be dealt with. I have very little memory of the 4-6 weeks following the surgery, and there are still problems with the correct word coming up just when I need it, so we play word games. My son made a room for me at his house because everyone agreed I should not be living alone at that time, so I was blessed to have my little kids come into my room each morning to spend time with Gramma. I stayed there until just before Christmas. Because of the memory issues, my daughter continues to go with me to doctor appointments. I went back to work in mid-December, thanks to the assistance of my kids and a good friend: driving is prohibited for six months following a seizure, and they stepped right up and got me every place I needed to go. I have also learned a really big lesson: the technicians get extremely annoyed if you fall asleep (repeatedly) during an MRI of your head and neck. Apparently you're not supposed to do that, which may be why those machines are so noisy. But there are some folks who apparently don't have any sleep issues and can drop off at the strangest times....
So it appears that right at this time I am cancer-free, but I really donít believe it matters. I am certain that we are within a few breaths of the rapture.
I do not believe that I have survived to this point because I am special, or because I am Super Christian. Christians get cancer (and other nasty things) and die every day. This was simply the Fatherís will for me at this time. As long as I remain on this earth I expect to experience the same problems as everyone else on earth. I find that even in the face of all that has happened during this past year, the blessings of God are abundant. I have two awesome kids who love the Lord, they are both married to awesome kids who also love the Lord, and don't even get me started about my three awesome grandchildren. lol
Rev 4:11 says, "Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created." This is the purpose and meaning of life. We humans are part of Godís creation, therefore we are created to give him pleasure. I do not believe that God gets any pleasure from the trials and adversities that we all face, but I surely do believe that our response to these things can please him immensely. I cannot stress enough the importance of reading and studying the Word of God. In one form or another, the storms of life are surely going to come, but the midst of the storm is not the best time to establish a foundation for a safe haven. I donít know why I was faced with cancer at the end of my life on earth. Perhaps it was because I had let down my guard, dropped my armor so to speak, but I do know that I had twenty-two years of studying scripture when my storm came, and that rock-solid foundation continues to hold firm. I have before me what the Bible calls the Blessed Hope. I am absolutely certain that the Lord is coming for his people and that event is going to happen sooner rather than later. As for me, I want to see Jesus. And I hope to see a smile. I KNOW He is going to get one from me.