I will never forget the day my mom told me she had cancer. I hope our story can encourage others going through a cancer diagnosis as well.
I was 17, and any “trials” I had experienced were wrapped around getting a “B” on a test or being dumped by my high school boyfriend.
That all changed the day my mom called me over to the couch in the living room–a room rarely used in our home, a room reserved for formal occasions like entertaining out-of-town guests during the holidays. For some reason, she chose this room for this life-altering conversation.
“Erin, come here for a minute,” she said. “I want to show you something.”
She pulled down her pants and showed me a swollen gland just below her waistline.
She didn’t mention the word “cancer,” but I knew. I knew before she even told me.
“I wanted to tell you that the doctor is going to check out this little place. It feels like a marble under my skin, see?”
She reached for my hand and pulled me over to her. I shuddered. I didn’t know much about cancer, but I knew enough that a lump under the skin could equal a tumor, and a tumor could equal cancer. I was scared.
The next week, my mother began exploratory procedures, and by the week after that the doctors had found cancer.
I was scheduled to leave on my first-ever international mission trip–to Scotland. Casting my fears aside, I had spent the better part of that year saving all my waitressing tips and paycheck and fundraising for the trip. I was to leave the next week.
Sitting in church that Sunday, our pastor said the words I had been refusing to voice aloud: “Becky Boyd has cancer–ovarian. She will undergo a full hysterectomy next week, and she will begin six months of chemotherapy after her recovery.”
The world around me began to spin, and goosebumps covered my arms. This can’t be true, I told myself. “Is what he’s saying true?” I whispered to my sister.
My parents had not yet confirmed my fears. With my upcoming trip, they didn’t want to worry me, or give me reason to back out. My sister and brother had overheard my parents talking, but they had kept things a secret as well. I was the only one who didn’t know.
When corporate prayer began, we stood as a family and walked down the aisle to the altar, kneeling to cry out to the Lord together.
Some would call it irony, but I now look at this next fact as providential: My mom’s surgery was scheduled for the day I was flying out of the country.
My parents drove me to the airport, walked me to the gate in pre-9/11 fashion, and my teenage-brain had convinced myself that, as I was hugging my mother, I was saying goodbye forever.
I choked on my sobs and bordered on hysterical as my dad and youth pastor pried me away from her.
That day gave me the chance to experience God’s presence more than ever before.
As I took my seat on the plane, I began talking to an elderly woman on my right. I don’t remember her name or where she was from, but I still reflect on her white curly hair, warm smile, and kind words.
I explained why I was crying, but within minutes my tears subsided and I was enveloped in an unexplainable peace.
“This is so strange,” I told her. “My mother is being wheeled into an operating room right now, and I am headed for a foreign country, but I feel absolute peace. I shouldn’t feel peace at all right now, but I do. Is this God’s peace that passes all understanding?”
She prayed with me, read Scripture with me, and offered her companionship during the flight.
(For all I know, that lady might have been an angel entertaining me while I remained unaware. This thought didn’t hit me until I was writing this post–18 years and over half my life after the fact.)
Thankfully, my mom beat her cancer diagnosis then as well as four years later when it returned.
We praise God for healing her and for all He taught our family during that time.
Although I do not obsess about it, I must be transparent in telling you that cancer is often at the forefront of my mind. I don’t believe the Lord wants us to worry unnecessarily, but I also don’t think it’s wise to bury our heads in the sand when it comes to cancer.
With cancer affecting 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women in their lifetimes, it’s important to educate ourselves on preventative measures and the latest research on cancer treatments.
When my mother was diagnosed with it in the late 1990s, I didn’t know many people who had been through what we were going through. Today, I cannot count the number of friends who have had someone in their immediate family go through the disease.
Last fall, I watched the 9-part The Truth About Cancer, which I believe may well be one of the most important documentaries I have ever seen.
I am excited to share that the first two episodes are free! You can watch them here.
Over 100 doctors, researchers, scientists and survivors have come together and agreed to tell their stories on camera for the very first time.
The results are nothing short of breathtaking.
I urge you, if you’ve been affected or had a loved one affected by the scourge of this modern day plague, you need to know what’s not only possible… but what’s actually working in the field to lower and even eliminate your risk.
For more information about The Truth About Cancer, click here.
Has your family ever experienced a cancer diagnosis? How did you cope? What have you done to educate yourself about cancer?