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  • Maggie Wallem Rowe

For All Those Traveling the Cancer Journey—You are Not Alone

Hi friends!

Here in the United States, we’ve just celebrated Memorial Day and with it, the unofficial beginning of summer. Many of us will be traveling in the next few months. Mike and I spent last week with our daughter’s family in New Jersey and are now with our oldest son’s crew in Massachusetts. *

But I’m also acutely aware that some of you have just begun a journey no one chooses.

This past week alone, three good friends of ours have been diagnosed with cancer. Whatever the age, whatever the stage, the day one receives the diagnosis is a line of demarcation— LBC (Life Before Cancer) and LW/AC  Life With—or After—Cancer.)

When we were in fulltime pastoral ministry, Mike kept a stack of books written by bestselling author Lynn Eib in his office as a resource for newly diagnosed members of our church family. Lynn, recently turned 70, passed that line of demarcation 34 years ago when she received her own diagnosis. 

Since all of us know someone on the cancer journey, I’ve invited Lynn to speak to us in this space today.


“If this hasn’t happened to you yet, I’m pretty sure it will.

Someone finds out that you or your loved one has cancer and begins to tell you a story about a relative or friend who had a similar diagnosis. I’m sure it’s an attempt to identify with what you’re going through, but unfortunately as the story unfolds, it’s not what you really want to hear.

When I was diagnosed with cancer in 1990 at the age of 36, people used to come up and tell me gruesome stories about their neighbor who had the same kind of cancer I did and just “wasted away” or their grandmother who was “wracked with pain.” I hated hearing these stories, but at first I tried to be polite and listen.

Finally, I decided I could take it no longer and when people started a cancer story, I would interrupt them, smile, and say, “Does this story have a happy ending? Because if it ­doesn’t, I don’t want to hear it.”

That reply ­really stopped people in their tracks, and I ­didn’t have to listen to any more hopeless cancer tales.

You may want to adopt my approach as well. Many patients tell me they have and that surprisingly it worked quite well, even though some folks’ mouths dropped open at the shock of being asked to stop talking midstream! Eventually, you may be fine to listen to any and all stories, but at first I think it’s best to stick with the happy endings.

All the patients in my oncologist's office where I worked as a patient advocate for nearly two decades knew that when I started to tell them a story, they could relax because it was going to have a “happy ending.” Either the person got cured or went into remission or lived much longer than predicted. 

The truth is that some people get cured of cancer on this earth and some ­don’t. I join you in hoping and praying for your cure, but I want to remind you that no matter what does or doesn’t happen to your health, you do not have to be a victim.

I hate the term "cancer victim." It somehow implies cancer is the victor. It wins; we lose.

While we can do little to choose whether we get cancer, I believe we can do a lot to choose whether we are its victims. I don’t just mean whether we live or die. I mean how the diagnosis affects us in the deepest parts of who we are.

I urge you today, whether you are the patient or the caregiver, not to choose to become a victim of cancer. 

Do not let this disease seem more powerful than it is. Do not let it fill your mind, steal your peace, invade your soul or destroy your hope. It has no power to do those things unless you allow it to.

As you take this unwanted journey, I believe you are going to discover two things:

You are a lot stronger than you think and God is a lot greater than you think.

If you had told me prior to June 1990 that I was going to be diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer and have to endure major surgery, six months of weekly chemo and a 40-percent chance to survive, I would have said: I can’t face that. 

If I had known the terrible side effects I would suffer because I was allergic to the main chemo drug and no other alternative existed, I would have said: No can do. 

If you told me I would have to live with the knowledge that if my cancer came back, there was no other treatment available at the time and I would die very quickly, I would have told you there’s no way I can live like that.

But that’s because I didn’t have a true appreciation for how awesome God really is. Oh, I’d believed in Him and even served Him faithfully for decades, but until I suffered personally, I’d never experienced firsthand the amazing strength of the human spirit and the incomparable greatness of the Almighty God.

The Lord is good, a strong refuge when trouble comes. He is close to those who trust him. Nahum 1:7

If you ­don’t want to be defeated by this diagnosis—no matter what it does or has done to you or your loved one, you need a supernatural touch from God.

Perhaps you would like to say this simple prayer: Heavenly Father, cancer feels very big right now. Please let me see that this disease is very small compared to your amazing strength. Empower me to choose not to be a victim. Amen.”

-Excerpted from 50 Days of Hope ©2012 by Lynn Eib, Tyndale House Publishers

To contact Lynn Eib or read more about her ministry:



  When God & Cancer Meet: True Stories of Hope and Healing

Coming Next Week! "The Lemonade Stand” – a 13-week series focused on finding the sweetness in this summer of our lives.




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