A few weeks ago, Carmen and I went back to her oncologist for scans. Carmen had completed her chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Both had been brutal. Cancer sucks. Don’t let anyone lie to you and tell you that it is easy or that it is no big deal. It is a big deal. It is hard…for everyone involved. I have consistently been amazed at how well Carmen has battled over the last nine months. God has demonstrated his love and mercy toward us in so many ways and He has given Carmen the strength she needed to get through the worst trial she has ever had to experience.
Back to the scans.
We sat in the doctor’s office acutely aware of the nervous knot in the pits of our stomachs, praying constantly that God would meet us with good news regarding Carmen’s health.
And good news He delivered. The scans came back clean!
CARMEN’S CANCER IS IN REMISSION! PRAISE GOD FOR HIS GLORIOUS GRACE!
I remember sitting down with one of my pastor friends back in early August, while we awaited the news of Carmen’s diagnosis. Now, pastors learn how to say just the right things in just the right tones at just the right time. That’s why the words this pastor friend of mine said to me shocked me. He was not grasping for some nugget of theological truth or profound comfort. He was not tritely assuring me of God’s presence in the trial. He did not lean on tired pastoral clichés to help me through my struggle. Rather, with real frustration and anguish in his voice, he said, “Cancer is so STUPID!”
I’ll never forget that.
His point was nothing more than the reality that cancer is stupid. He hurt for me. He was frustrated on my behalf. He was aware of the reality that my wife and I were up against a giant in our life that does not often strike people in their mid-20’s. And this could have turned out to be nothing more than a minor inconvenience…or it could take Carmen’s life. Cancer is stupid. It’s not how things are meant to be.
And even now, we still face the reality that cancer is stupid.
Yes, Carmen’s scans have come back clean. Praise God!
Yes, the cancer is in remission. Praise God!
But the fight is not over.
Carmen will have to continue medical treatment for upwards of a decade to ensure her long-term health and, hopefully, to seal her ultimate victory over this vile disease. Many of us have known people who have suffered from a recurrence of cancer.
That’s why cancer is stupid.
But we are praying that God keeps cancer far from Carmen’s body for the indefinite future. We are praying that Carmen and I get to grow old together. We are praying that good years lie ahead of us and that we get to remember cancer as a not-too-pleasant memory and as a marker of God’s enormous mercy and grace in our life.
We are so thankful for all the prayers you and those you know have offered up to God on our behalf. We are forever indebted to you for them. We are so thankful for the thoughts and calls and gifts and meals the church (the body of Christ) has provided for us. We are so thankful for the (literally) hundreds of cards Carmen has received in the mail. We are so grateful to the church for their care for us throughout this struggle.
And even though we are forever indebted to you for all of this…we would like to presume upon your kindness once more.
Will you please continue to pray for us?
Will you add us to your daily prayer list for the rest of your life? Seriously. Now is not the time to quit praying for us.
Our fight is not over. The battle rages on. We celebrate Carmen’s remission. She is a breast cancer survivor! But we are facing a long road ahead. We are staring down the reality that cancer will probably always be in the back (and sometimes the front) of our minds. We are staring down the barrel of tough choices regarding medicines and long-term treatment. And we are staring at the road ahead knowing that God is in control and that He is good and that He does good.
Cancer is stupid.
It is stubborn.
It is out for blood.
It is no respecter of persons.
But it IS a respecter of God…for He has the ultimate authority over everything. Cancer listens when God speaks. And we are praying that He has spoken the final word, the death blow, to the cancer that sought to assault Carmen’s body.
So, please continue to pray for us.
Thank you so much.
As I prepare to sign off, please consider these words from James 1. We have found them to be true and applicable to real-life.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits. Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. (James 1:2-12 ESV)
This has not been a joyful experience for the most part. I have probably cried more tears this year than I have in all my life up to this point. I have watched my wife, whom I love more than anyone on this earth, suffer and struggle and cry and hurt. I have stood by helplessly as I watched her battle disease. And I have been forced to admit that I control nothing and that I am absolutely dependent on God’s work in my life.
So, has it been a joy? No.
But I will count it as joy, because I have learned that God is good and does good. I have learned that He cares for His own, even when times are hard. I have learned what it REALLY means to trust in God, even when it is difficult. I have learned what it is to be angry with God and to see Him come through as good and just and kind and merciful. I have seen Him go before us and provide for ALL of our needs according to His riches in glory. And I believe I have seen Him heal my wife. Would you keep praying with me that Carmen is healed? Thank you.
Andrew and Carmen
P.S. In nine days, Carmen and I are headed to Alaska to share Jesus with a completely unreached people group. I am so proud of her commitment to the gospel and her willingness to go and share the good news of Jesus Christ with people in a remote land just one month after finishing her cancer treatments! Isn’t she amazing?! And isn’t God amazing?! That’s why we’re going to tell others about Him. Pray for us as we go, please.