Nothing grabs your full attention quite like hearing the word cancer.
There’s immediate, laser-like focus on the face that just delivered the unwelcome news. But while your eyes are wide open and alert, your brain seems to simultaneously shut down. All you hear is “wah, wah, wah” like the adult voices in a Charlie Brown TV program. I did notice the nurse scribbling furiously on a pad from which she tore a sheet to hand me as I left. Later, I was thankful for her scribbling as I had either not heard or didn’t remember much of what I’d been told.
I had been sent to the dermatologist five days before Christmas to have a crusty patch of skin on my chest checked out. In addition to scraping it off to be biopsied, she removed a mole from my upper left arm, leaving me with three unexpected stitches. I didn’t give any of it much thought other than I probably had some pre-cancerous cells from my younger years of overzealous sunbathing. Three days after Christmas, I was told I had squamous cell carcinoma on my chest and melanoma on my arm. I didn’t know a lot about skin cancer but I knew those were very bad words. I was given chemotherapy cream (I didn’t know there was such a thing) for my chest and scheduled for a more extensive biopsy on my arm to determine if the cancer cells had migrated.
I remember asking the Lord, “Is this it? Is this what will usher me home to glory?” Yet, I had a surreal kind of calm about the whole thing. Probably because I dress. Fully dress. Every. Single. Day.
Put on the whole armor of God. -Ephesians 6:11A ESV
I don’t carry my armor around in a cute tote just in case I might need it. I seek to put it on every day and wear it with full confidence. You see, if we don’t put it on every day, it doesn’t fit quite right. The armor of God is customized for each of His children and is meant to be worn continuously. We then get comfortable and become adept at using our spiritual weapons. The armor needs to feel like a second skin, molded to our bodies and souls. If we’re not wearing it, we are vulnerable to the blows our enemy hurls at us. Putting on armor after we’re injured might hide the blood but it doesn’t heal the wound.
On January 15th, my question was answered. The melanoma had not spread, so I only have a weird scar to show for that; no further treatment needed. The chemotherapy cream was not fun, to put it mildly. Who knew such pain and misery could come out of a little plastic packet? My chest began to resemble raw hamburger halfway through the regimen, and I had to switch to a different cream. I also had an outbreak of shingles to top it off. But I was not going to die. At least not right now from skin cancer. It can reoccur, and the possibility of this being the vehicle for my homegoing will always be there.
But I rest in the knowledge that I will never have to fight alone. Life is a battle, my friends.
Cathy Fitzgerald is a wife, mother, grandmother, Bible teacher, and freelance writer. She loves telling people about Jesus and has just completed her first novel.
Banner Photo by Bethany Mitchell