"Therefore encourage one another and build one another up,
just as you are doing."
Childhood cancer is the cancer that keeps on killing.
It's the disease that destroys you before you've had a chance at living your days.
Oh, kids are tough and medicine is powerful and we can actually sometimes, or hopefully, most of the time, kill the cancer, but not before it has touched the rest of the child's life.
That's why she could never even call herself a cancer survivor for over 30 years. If you have to do battle with cancer when you are a thirty pound three year old, it turns you into a fighter, but you might not always taste the victory.
It's possible to survive the cancer, and for the medicine to save the child, but the childhood cancer survivor limps along in life with scars that never let her forget the battle she fought.
She knows what a life lived with limitations in all about. She has seen doctors shake their baffled heads and not know what to say. She's had specialists tell her hard-to-hear facts like it's too risky for your heart for you to carry around another baby for nine months and the three miracle children you already have need their Mama. She knows how big-time heart surgeons search for ways to help her.
She is never free from ugly realities. The way the threat of high-risk recurrences loom like great disastrous storm clouds on the horizon is scary. The visits to hospitals and appointments with specialists and endless pokes and hard examination tables are enough to make her want to crawl in a cave or fly off to a deserted island, or even better, live a normal life.
The child who fights cancer knows what it is to do battle, to persevere, to get up after she's been knocked down again and again and again. She's not looking for medals or applause and please, don't feel sorry for her.
She needs your encouragement. All the way through life.
Every time she's conquered something the doctors didn't think possible.
Every time she's knocked down with another discouraging report from the doctor.
Every time she forgets how to face the fear and turn to trust.
She needs your loving encouragement.
She needs your tears to mingle with hers.
She needs your words.
She needs your laughter.
She needs you to remind her that God is with her.
She needs your help.
She needs you to share your time, and energy, and meals.
She doesn't need you to try to understand what it must be like. You can't, so don't feel bad about it. Don't feel sorry for her.
Just ache with her over the ugliness of it because of sin and look to Jesus with her because he suffered to conquer the sin to give us living hope.
She has this road to walk and she does not go into battle alone.
And if this is the life she has been given then she is going to let her light shine.
Survivors don't give up. Survivors take heed, take heart and take hope.
When a survivor of childhood cancer gets told that her heart can fail her, she needs something stronger to stand on.
She needs a Rock.
She needs a Refuge.
She needs a Redeemer.
When a survivor of childhood cancer is told the her heart can't handle a whole lot, she takes heed, but she doesn't lose hope.
She sees her weakness as she looks to the One who strengthens her.
She tastes her tears as she cries to the One who cups her in His hand.
She knows the frailty of life as she trusts in her Eternal Father.
He comforts her. The God of all comfort sends His body to wrap arms around this little one in love.
She knows this is not only for a season but for the rest. of. her. life. She also knows she is not alone.
That is the power of encouragement.
Speak the Gospel to her when she is fainthearted.
Pray with her when she has lost a footing.
Care for her when she needs a friend.
Hold up her arms when she is faltering.
Don't be shy when she needs you to shower love upon her family.
Remind her to look to the faithfulness of God when she forgets.
Just, please, don't feel sorry for her.
Look to Jesus with her.
Proclaim His goodness with her.
Give thanks to the Giver of all good and perfect gifts with her.
These light and momentary afflictions have nothing on eternity. They are just preparing her for a glory beyond all comparison.
So, mourn with her that she doesn't get a normal life, but celebrate even more that she gets a new eternal life.
And know how much she wants you right there with her.
Tasting the sweetest victory ever. Eternally dwelling in the presence of our God who is always good.
With songs of praise to our Saviour on our lips and the scars of this life forever healed.