Playing for Keeps (A Breast Cancer Meditation)

17 Jun

 

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We have had an epidemic of breast cancer at our church these past five years.  

At least it seems so.  

In reality, one out of eight women gets breast cancer in her lifetime.  Usually at a more advanced age, though.  Of the five women who have gotten it, three were in their forties, including me.

Three were also in church leadership, including the pastor’s wife and the wife of the college dean.  Two of us were just very active volunteers (the other one has since moved to another city).  

For privacy purposes, I am conglomerating the data like that.  I can tell my story, as it brushes up against theirs, but their stories are theirs to tell (or not).

The latest American Cancer Society statistics show that the risk of death from breast cancer is now one in 36.  Of course, outcome has much to do with how early the cancer is caught.  I may have had the most advanced stage of all five of us, as I was stage IIB.  I had one positive lymph node, which set off an alarm and indicated I would probably want chemotherapy, just in case.  I chose chemotherapy.  Five years later, I have never been healthier!

I was also the only one who was able to just have a lumpectomy, but every case of cancer is different.  With the others, they were worried about cancer spreading in the breasts; with me, the worry was that it would spread to other parts of my body.

So, what do we learn from a potentially deadly disease like breast cancer?

We learn to live each day as though it could be our last (because it could–no one, however healthy, has the next day guaranteed).  

We learn gentleness with other people.  We learn that some things just aren’t worth turning into a fight.  We learn that not every issue is priority one, so we pick and choose what we go after.

If we are Christians, we learn that Christ is everything and more.  To live is to face life with His strength.  To die is to face eternal life with His strength.  It isn’t just that we will live forever, but that we will live forever with Him.  He has bought and paid for that on our behalf.  

We learn to play for keeps in life.  There is a lot of petty stuff out there, not worthy of our time.  We can choose to avoid that.

We can protect those we love.  We can realize our special bond with fellow breast cancer survivors and honor it.  We can pray for everyone.  We can keep a smile on our faces and joy in our hearts.

We can choose to do all that and more, in the strength of our Saviour, no matter what happens.

God bless ya’ll.

 

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