Jehovah was not in the wind. And after the wind, an earthquake: Jehovah was not in the earthquake.
And after the earthquake, a fire: Jehovah was not in the fire. And after the fire, a soft gentle voice. (1Kings 19:11-12)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

When She Swallowed a Penny . . . My Story, His Glory {Day 24}

There is a part of my life that for years I have lived without embracing. I have lived in part hiding from it and in part trying to overcome it. I have lived in the fears of it. I share it now so that God can use my story here for His glory

Not by any choices I have made, but by God’s Sovereignty I have had to endure a life that I would never have chosen for myself. The thing is, we don't get to choose. And really, it is better that way!

Throughout the Old Testament, time after time, the Israelites were reminded to remember what the LORD God had done for them. They were to recollect God’s wonderful acts, lest they forget!

I must not forget what God has done for me. Forgetting what God has done will lead to pride and pride to idolatry. God wants a heart fully devoted to Him and in remembering what He has done builds our trust and faith in Him. Therefore, I must walk by faith in the path that He laid out for me; not by fear!

So when I look back to this part of my life I open up old medical files. These files describe in detail things which I scarcely remember. 

But I have had to go back and recall these past experiences as they build confidence for the present. Seeing what God has done will enable me to walk by faith and not by sight.

I attended a conference in April and Ann talked about the manna that the Lord provided for the Israelites in the wilderness. Manna means “What is it?” a mystery, but it was a daily provision; a gift. We were challenged to look at the mystery – the thing that God has provided for us that does not really make sense in our lives, and give God thanks for it. I had realized in my own searching that complaining brings death. But we need to open up our hand and eat the manna – when we see the gift, even for the hard things, we need to give thanks and we enter His presence of full joy!

That weekend I realized I was to look at my health as the mystery; the thing God had given me as a mystery. The thing He had provided for me to daily depend on Him, to trust in Him; to give Him thanks for the difficult things in my life.

The month I celebrated my third birthday I was admitted to The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto.

For Cancer.

I read in my old typed medical files that:
" . . .  she was perfectly well until August of this year while holidaying in England when she swallowed a penny. Chest x-ray was done and this showed the penny situated in the esophagus but also showed a large mass in the right hemithorax. When she returned to Canada she brought the x-rays with her and was referred by her family doctor to Hospital for Sick Children for further work-up. She was admitted to HSC on September 3rd . . . "

Four days later I was in the operating room. I was diagnosed with an undifferentiated sarcoma - a rare and rapidly growing tumour in children - and I was a thirty pound, three foot, not quite three year old, with a tumour the size of a grapefruit.

My parents were given a 50/50 prognosis, but that 50% depended upon if I responded to the treatment.

They were told that there would be extensive side effects. Permanent damage, nausea, vomiting and hair loss were for sure. Then there would be many other complications that could arise, including the risk that the treatment “could cause a second malignancy later in life”.

Treatments would last for two years and at times my parents questioned whether all that I was going through would be worth it in the end. My mother had a very difficult time and there was not very much support at that time for the parents of cancer patients. My father was self employed and they had three other children at home to care for during this time.

As I am now blessed to be a parent, I can not imagine how difficult it would have been to see their three year old daughter so ill. To watch her blond locks fall out would have been a vivid reminder of how sick their little girl was. When we went out people would stare. My father has shared his memory of one occasion when a grown man pointed his finger and laughed at me with his family. My father very aggressively confronted the man defending his daughter. 

Doubt, depression, anger, shame, fear, helpless. These would be some of the words to describe those years.

Treatment for paediatric cancer was in the pioneering stages in those years.  They treated me very aggressively hoping I would survive. After my initial surgery and treatments and being in the hospital for most of that September and October I returned to the hospital every three weeks for chemotherapy for two years. There were a number of times I was hospitalized for neutropenia.

At that time parents were not permitted to stay with the child during their stay in the hospital. They were allowed to visit, but could not stay overnight. I was often fretful and crying for my mother and father. I have recall memories that bring an overwhelming sense of loneliness.

I remember the vomiting! The anti nausea medication at that time, I have been told, was not very effective – my memories of vomiting validate that.

It was a time in my life that changed my life forever. You don't go through cancer without it affecting the rest of your days.

By God’s grace my life here was extended. 

I often wondered why I had to go through it all, but when I have looked back and realized what God has brought me through and give thanks for it, I wonder why He allowed me to survive it. 

Even as my journey now has difficult bends in the road because of the long-term side effects, God's faithfulness is so evident and beautiful. 

My husband shared these words regarding our circumstances and the uncertain days ahead:

We do not lose hope, we do not grow weary in recognizing the faithfulness of God in our lives. 

He is our comfort, our assurance, our peace. 

Our wills and desires must be en-robed and dissolved in His ultimate will and plan for us.

'The more we seek Him, the more we will find Him. The more we find Him, the more we love Him.' The more we love Him, the more we get lost in His greatness.

This is our highest purpose. 

31 Days
This is part of a series, linking up with Nester, for the month of October.

You will find the rest of the series, Write to Discover Yourself: My Story His Glory, here

It is a series of posts of sharing what I am learning in Ruth Vaughn’s book, 'Write to Discover Yourself'.


  1. What a story! I was diagnosed with cancer at 28, spent 4 years in treatment, and just celebrated my 1 year anniversary of REMISSION! I am not cancer free - but cancer has FREED me to see the world in a whole new way. I also have had a cardiac condition since I was a small child. I think all of these experiences prepared me for the particular purpose in life that God has asked me to live out.

    Thank you so much for sharing this tender story.

  2. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful story. I was going through a time of severe personal trial this past fall and God brought me to the Psalms and reminded me of the context in which many of them were written... and revealed to me the need to declare his Glory even in the midst of such trials. What a blessing when a soul finds such peace as gratitude in ALL things. Blessings to you and thank you again for sharing your heart!

  3. I just ran across your blog this evening. I saw your sentence that you live with one functioning lung. My mom, now in heaven, lived from the age of 5 with only 1 lung. She had ether aspiration pneumonia and almost died. The drs wanted to remove her lung, but that was back in the 1920's and way too dangerous and so she lived her life with only one lung. But she lived a full life, had more stamina than I have ever had and lived to 73 years old. She was an incredible godly mom and I was so blessed to have her. I will be following your story too. Blessings from Michigan

    1. Jane, I am so glad you stopped by! Thank you for sharing your Mom's story. I did not have mine removed either and am now down to about 30% lung capacity with other complications, but God gives me strength for the days. How did she have so much stamina, I'd like to know?
      So glad to meet you!


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