This past July, I celebrated 7 years of survivorship. I don't usually celebrate the anniversary of my diagnosis; not that there is anything wrong with that, I just prefer to distance myself from any identifying marks of cancer. I didn't throw a bash this year either, but because "seven" is the biblical number for "perfection" or "completion", this one felt significant, emotional. I did not sense the Lord saying anything new to me about my healing, as I believe He's already confirmed it to me, and I don't need to hear it again to believe it (1 Thessalonians 2:13). Nonetheless, I took the opportunity to agree that my healing is complete, with thanks and praise to the One who healed me, and I sent notes of thanksgiving to a few significant people who encouraged me during my trial, blessing them and inviting them into my 7-year celebration.
And, wouldn't you know it, last week, one month after my 7-year cancerversary, I began having terrible bone pain in my back rib area. I didn't immediately think of cancer, but it was a gnawing, constant, localized pain that woke me up at night, and since I had never felt anything like it before, my mind eventually went there. Was it possible that metastatic breast cancer had invaded my bones? I've never been one to jump to a conclusion of cancer and, in fact, this was only the 3rd time in my 7 years of survivorship where an unusual pain in my body caused me to even consider cancer recurrence. But after a few sleepless nights (from pain, not worry), what else could it be? I tried to think of all the possibilities, but nothing fit. Still, I had peace. Distinct, inexplicable peace.
I discussed the pain with my doctor hoping that it may be associated with the mononucleosis I had recently tested positive for (I don't have any symptoms of mono other than fatigue). But he dashed my hopes. Then, a rash broke out across my abdomen around to my back. My husband did some research and found that rashes can be connected to mono. I spoke with a nurse who convinced me I'd better come in.
Turns out, I HAVE SHINGLES!! Shingles? Really?! I haven't had as much as a cold in the past 5 years, and suddenly I have mono and shingles?! I am too old for mono and too young for shingles, what's up with that? Shingles is known to cause the type of significant pain I've been experiencing; in fact, my doctor told me a story of one of his patients who went to the emergency room with symptoms of a heart attack that turned out to be shingles! Boy, did my husband and I celebrate! Yes, we celebrated that I have shingles, ha! (Life is all about perspective.)
Never in a million years would I have guessed that the bone pain I was feeling was caused by a rejuvenated varicella-zoster virus lurking in my central nervous system.
And, so, I want you to remember this story the next time you experience your own inexplicable symptoms that tempt you into fearing a cancer recurrence. Yes, breast cancer can recur, and it is prudent to investigate the source of any pain. But, let us not focus first on the work of the devil. Rather, let us focus first on the promises of God and the heaven-sized portion of peace that is available to us daily from the hands of our Savior Jesus who is waiting to saturate us with His love! Let us remember there could be one hundred explanations for our symptoms, most, like shingles, that will never cross our minds! Let our hearts not be troubled and let us not be afraid!
God is Jehovah Shalom. He IS the God of Peace. There is no other God of Peace anywhere in all of creation. Only Him. Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior who is with us to the very end! He is all we have. He is everything we need.
Praise be to You, my Jehovah Shalom! I thank you for keeping my heart from being troubled and afraid. I rejoice in the promise You have spoken to me, that I am healed. Forgive me for doubting that promise. Forgive me, Lord, for celebrating shingles or any sickness because I think it's better than the alternative. Lord, I reject shingles and all sickness in Jesus' name. Thank you for your forgiveness. Thank you that when the enemy tempted me into considering a lie, You were there to protect me, to restrain me with Your jealous embrace from placing even my toe onto that wagon of fear. I am filled with gratitude and thanksgiving for your devotion to me. There is none like You. You ARE the Most High God... Thank you, Lord! AMEN.