It's Friend Friday and today's friend is a new friend! We met this fall when I was teaching a bible study in an art gallery. How fun is that?! Yet there was the instant Jesus connection, the type that knits the hearts of fellow believers together. When I heard she was a breast cancer survivor, I asked if she'd share her story for October's Friend Friday. I'm delighted she said, "Yes!" May your heart be encouraged as Rhonda shares about the faithfulness of God, especially in the valley.
Rhonda Robertson is a wife, mother, grandmother, quilter, writer, public speaker, and breast cancer survivor. She's active in her church and loves to cook and bake. She often uses her quilts and applies the patterns to biblical and spiritual truths in presentations to women's groups. She and her husband, Mike, are enjoying retirement and live in Jackson TN.
In my bible, Hebrews Chapter 11 is titled “By Faith.” I know it’s also been called Heroes of the Faith. But when I hear the words By Faith, I remember a song from an Easter musical our choir and drama team performed years ago. I had a short solo in the song and my lyrics went, “By faith Daniel entered the lions’ den and without a scratch he walked out again.” It was a fun song and had a powerful message.
I’ve never been thrown in a lions’ den but I have walked through the valley of the shadow of death. In March, 2010, I was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma - breast cancer. It was discovered by a fluke, actually. My yearly mammogram showed a suspicious spot, I was called back in for a repeat test, then something else showed up so off to ultrasound. Ultrasound picked up the cancer in a different spot and the original suspicious spot was nothing. I went through surgery, eighteen weeks of chemo and a full year of targeted medicine, radiation, all the while participating in a clinical trial to test a new pill that was also targeted for the particular kind of cancer I had.
I was so sick; at least for six months of that year. The support of my family and friends and sometimes from people I had never met was overwhelming. As I look back on that time, a lot of different factors played into my recovery. Of course, the medicines - awful though they were - not only killed all the cancer cells but also anything else growing in my body, such as hair, fingernails, and I’m thinking anything else that could have made me sick. Over the years since I’ve had one cold in seven years! I guess the chemo got rid of every germ in my body. I don’t know, I’m just saying.
The major factor in my recovery was my faith and more specifically, My God. A cousin gave me the devotional book, Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. It and my Bible were never far from me. Dying from cancer never crossed my mind. My go-to verse, and the one I claimed during all that year was Psalm 131:2: But I have stilled and quieted my soul. I just knew, by faith, I’d come out of this valley alive and well.
And I did. I prayed on the good days, “Thank you, Lord, for letting me have a good day.” I prayed on the bad days, “Please, Lord, just let me feel better today.” I prayed every day, “Thank you, Lord, for my husband, my kids and grandkids, my mother, my sisters, my friends, my church family. Thank you Lord for my doctors and nurses and even for this old medicine that’s making me so sick because I know it’s going to make me so much better - one day.”
And as I slowly got over the effects of the medicine, and as my hair grew back – hair is another story for another day - and as I gained my weight and strength back, I was able to say, “I walked through the valley of the shadow of death and I feared no evil” Psalm 23:4. I was comforted. I had faith. By faith, I walked through cancer and by faith, and God’s grace, I was healed.
Thank you, Father God.