My Breast Cancer Journey

We have had the amazing gift of a wonderful teacher this year as my son has transitioned into middle school. She radiates joy and light and has been so helpful and welcoming in the adjustment. A few weeks ago, Aidan came home and sadly told us that Mrs. Sherwood has cancer. The way she is taking the news is profound. This woman teaches in such a way that she inspires her students (read the story about the student whose teacher got cancer and what he did for her that was so inspiring.) She not only teaches in a way that is inspiring, she lives that way too! As you read her story of this new found journey she walks, her faith will grip you. Her peace will invite you. Her words will fuel you for your own road. Her courage is astounding and her hope is big. May you find some comfort in how she faces cancer and please pray for her along the way.- Willow
pennys story

My fingers brush again the skin of my breast – then probe more deeply. No doubt then – a significant lump not just my imagination. Immediately I look into the face of my Lord. “Is this it then?” I question. “Is this my ticket home… to you?”

I hear no definitive answer, just the sure sense of his presence warm around me and a whispered reminder of Joseph.

“Joseph?” I ask. “What does a man – betrayed by family and sold into slavery, one who suffered imprisonment and the threat of death, have to do with me …now?”

And it is as if he has cupped my face with those nail scarred hands, looked tenderly…deeply into my eyes and breathed those words spoken so long ago of Joseph’s plight… and now mine. “Satan meant it for evil, but I, Beloved, intend it for good.”

His presence enfolds me as I visit my doctor who schedules me for an immediate mammogram. That same presence soothes me as I begin to read on-line about breast tumors and core biopsies. Yikes, I think, I not only hate needles I’m a real baby when it comes to pain inflicted by others!

When my mind begins galloping toward myriad uncomfortable possibilities – “How do I tell my sons? Will I be here to see my eleven treasured grandchildren grow up? How can I teach my sixth graders if I’m lopsided, shedding hair, and throwing up? Who will watch over my aging parents? And my other half – my husband who has already lost so much, what of him?” – My Lord’s voice beckons me back and the lessons of this past year flood me with memories. “Be transformed, my beloved, by the renewing of your mind. Take every thought captive and bring each one to me. I will keep you safe and hold you close.”

And the words penned by Isaiah – one of the passages I velcro to my exercise bike each morning – replace all my what ifs. “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast – set on you – because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord – my Lord – is the rock eternal. In repentance – turning always back to Him – and rest is your salvation; in quietness and trust is your strength…. Blessed are those who wait for Him.”

Tears spring to my eyes as I realize… Of course, he has known all along. This is no surprise to my God. He has been preparing me for this new path and a journey he – who is all that is good – intends for his good purposes.

The night before my biopsy, I pick up the phone and press the numbers that will connect me to my sister in France, my “little” sis and best friend, with close ties that distance can never loosen. “Lee,” I begin. And minutes later as I finish my news there is a long pause.

Then her voice, oddly bemused, travels across the wires. “Pen, I just had my biopsy yesterday. I was waiting for the results before I called.”

We sit in quiet amazement. This is no accident, no coincidence we agree. This chapter of our story has our mighty, loving God’s fingerprints on every page.

Long minutes later, as we murmur our goodbyes, I stand at the window gazing out. The serenity of the softly rippled lake echoes the peace that flows through me. This gift of beauty never fails to stir my very soul. I close my eyes and lean hard into my Lord, resting against the one who calls me his beloved and hearing again his promise to bring his good purposes to life. And I smile – filled to the brim with a sure knowledge of his presence. “Thank you… Thank you,” I whisper, sure that whatever lies ahead, this journey of ours is a gift equal in beauty to this world he created.

Three days pass – I here in Bellingham and Lee, in Lyon, France – as we wait for the results of our biopsies and just hours apart we both sit with our doctors and hear the news. “Positive for breast cancer.”

Strangely enough – I am not surprised. I’m not sure where this path we are on will lead, but the one who set us on this journey walks alongside…

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