I missed a friend’s call. The message left said “I have news, but I’d like to share it with you in person. Can I call you?”
My friend has battled a rare form of leukemia called T Cell Leukemia/Lymphoma (which falls under the Acute Lymphatic Leukemia family) for six years. Her children are the same age as mine. I swallowed hard. Oh no, this can’t be good. Many times over the course of the six years I thought, she won’t make it out of this one. But this call was different, in fact, it blew my mind...
She called me days into the New Year to tell me she received the news that she was cancer-free. 🤯
It had been six years since her diagnosis. She was serving on staff at our church with our children. She was always a breath of fresh air, quick to encourage and lift others up.
Her health began to decline, little did we know what she was suffering with.
She was battling leukemia in a rare and highly invasive form. The church rallied around her. For months, I would pick up groceries for her, others would drop off meals or drive her to doctor appointments. It was unimaginable with middle schoolers at the time. Her own ageing parents moved across the country to help care for her. While her body was undergoing chemo and radiation, she lost a childhood best friend to a heart attack. Then within a year, she lost her mother to a brain aneurysm. The blows seemed to come one after another. Her grief and despair thick. So too were her husbands’ and childrens’. They were living in fear they’d lose their wife and mom...
But my friend as tender-hearted as she is also becomes a fierce warrior. She had a fierce faith and pursued God with all her might. The church and some amazing women of faith rallied around her, bathed in prayer, anointed, all of it, and she still suffered tremendously.
A day came where she’d had enough. She was done with the hospitals, the doctors and her conventional treatment. She quit all forms of chemo and walked away from her conventional treatments. Her doctors said don’t do it, it may cost you. But she felt a bigger risk to continue on with conventional methods. It was during this time she began studying as a Holistic Practioner. Her chemo would keep her body in a perpetual toxic state. It kept cancer at bay, but it also kept all her organs weak and vulnerable and with a little immune system to fight. She was sick and tired of being “sick and tired.” She began her own training in holistic medicine. She was always keen on a holistic approach, her studies turned into therapy for her mind as she fought through the pain and illness and recover from the effects of chemo and radiation that ravaged her. Her studies, her learning was energizing her, not just her mind and spirit, but she was putting diet and homeopathic into practice too. She was healing her body, inside-out.
I saw an entire transformation occur in her cancer journey. After chemo ravaged her body killing many of her optimal body functions, she was living a slow death. Jesus was always at the center she'd say, I always held onto him as life was being stripped away. He was faithful and held her up, helping her to keep going through the thickest parts of her story. I couldn’t shake one thing off throughout this whole journey. Her. She was a warrior. She took charge, She took action with her health. It was impressively gruelling what she took on. It is remarkable to me as I look back over 6 years. Honestly, I didn’t think she was going to survive. But her will for life, her will to press on, to continue being a mom for her children and a wife for her husband. She knew her "why". Why it was worth the fight, and it helped drive her forward.
The reason I wanted to share this story is that life is HARD. Choosing life is something we have to fight towards. Choosing to step up and change something in ourselves is terrifying and takes courage. It requires us to get uncomfortable. It throws us out of sorts. But not without reward. There are seasons that require ALOT from us as friends, people, parents, extended family members. It can feel horribly isolating, lonely, or pitiful. If you can dig deep and find the fight in you, don’t cower to it, stay in the battle and battle it out, keep learning what you can and choose good people to come around you and hold you up. Just as a diamond is formed under a lot of pressure, you can lean in to find your resolve to press through. She dealt with a lot of her own deep questions of faith, abandonment, and loss. She is not the same person on the other side of this journey. She gives Jesus all the glory for carrying her through. Healing is on the other side of our hard, but not without walking through the fire first. We must go there, often to the ugliest places before healing comes, before strength builds.
What have I learned from this? My friend took action, she changed the course of her future and now she is journeying towards bringing her organs back to life along with becoming a licenced holistic nutritionist. On the other side of hard is something beautiful. I hope that you lean into your hard and work it out. Jesus is faithful support as you walk your way through the fire. Your journey is a precious example to us all.
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