As children we recognize that cancer exists, but we like tobelieve we are invincible to such diseases. I never understood what cancer didto the body, but that lack of understanding was likely the basis for much of myfears.
In school, I had learned that the disease was produced by anuncontrollable division of unusual cells in the body that can spread rapidly toother organs and tissues. Even after learning about it, it was still too easyto assume that it was something that happened to other families and would neveraffect my own.Then in December of 2012, my father came to my siblings and meand said the most devastating words I have ever heard in my life, “Your mom hascancer.” I still do not quite understand how he found the strength to say suchupsetting news so calmly. I knew my mom had put her trust in God. She knew thatalthough she could not make everything vanish instantly, it was still going tobe okay. For a while, I thought that if I did not acknowledge the disease, itwould go away.
I felt as if I was stuck in an infinite loop of the samenightmare, and every day I kept expecting to wake up. When a member of thefamily develops cancer, it seems as if everyone has the disease as well. Inthe process, it changes everything about how one’s family works from day to day.
There is a saying by Friedrich Nietzsche that goes, “That which does not killus makes us stronger.” The Bible makes it clear from where this strength comesin I Peter 1:7, saying, “These have come so that the proven genuineness of yourfaith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined byfire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” My hope was that the experience would make mestronger as well.Throughout the next few months, I tried to be moreindependent and rely less on my parents.
After my mom came home and recoveredfrom surgery, she began chemotherapy. The treatments caused her to often besick. Being homeschooled, I had many opportunities to help around the house. Iwas fully responsible for making sure that I completed my schoolwork. If mymother was not feeling well, I was to prepare food or clean the house. Ifsomething had to be done, I quickly dropped what I was doing to help.
Suddenly,it felt as if I was in charge of the home. It has been roughly six years since my mother was diagnosedwith cancer. 2013 was a difficult year that pushed me far out of my comfortzone. I was forced to take on more responsibilities than I thought I could evermanage. It was an experience that greatly helped me grow into the person I amtoday.
A terrible experience became a great lesson. Anything canhappen, but it is the perception that makes a difference. Cancer was a learningexperience, that taught me to use those kinds of moments to an enhanced accountabilityand strength. It led me to an understanding that this word we fear,cancer, can be overcome by courage.