Thursday, September 13, 2012

Scars: The Visible and the Invisible

Yesterday I ordered a copy of my friend Elaine Olsen's newest book, "Beyond Cancer's Scars". I can't wait to read it because this lady indeed has a gift for words! She writes from the heart every time!

Since yesterday I have been thinking about the scars of cancer in my own life. Some visible. Some invisible. The first time I ever remember hearing about cancer was when I was eight years old and my Mama was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had a radical mastectomy and thirty days of radiation treatments.  The day after she came home from having her surgery was my ninth birthday. She lived another seven years. She lived those years with large, painful scars and a swollen, aching left arm and hand. I knew that. It was visible to me. But I was so young at the time she was going through all this that I didn't realize she must have had invisible scars as well.  I'm sure she must have had some of these same thoughts that Elaine expresses on her page about her book: "The suspicion. The waiting. The diagnosis. The statistics. The fear. The treatment. The suffering. The barely surviving."   I didn't know. I didn't understand. I wish I had!  I felt the fear in my own heart though as I saw Mama go through so much. I rode with her and Daddy many of the thirty days that she had to travel to the Baptist Hospital in downtown Memphis for her radiation treatments. Back then it took about an hour and forty-five minutes for a one-way trip because there were no interstates to travel on. I realize now that Mama must have been exhausted much of that time! I grew up pretty fast in those days because I had to be Mama's helper and do the mopping and most of the laundry as these were the two things that hurt her arm the most and caused it to swell.

There have been many cancer victims in my family and circle of friends since then. My Daddy lived a long, productive life but lung cancer finally took him at age ninety-six. Twenty-seven years ago my big sister Dolly lost a valiant fight with breast cancer. A little piece of me died with her.  More recently, my sister Leola had colon cancer. My mother-in-law Hazel: breast cancer.  Father-in-law Jewell: rare form of blood cancer and finally colon cancer. Brother-in-law Bill: lung cancer.  A close friend Diane: melanoma. Our friend Rodney: cancer of the spine. And many others. All these I hope to see again someday in heaven where no cancer exists.  Still fighting the battle are my brother-in-law Jimmie (cancer in the sinus) and my friend Peggy (several sites....Stage 4)

As for me, so far I only have two visible scars from cancer. One on my shoulder and one on my lower leg. Deep scars where skin cancers were dug out many years ago.  But even I who have been so blessed physically, have invisible scars from the pain of losing so many loved ones. I suspect that most everyone reading this does also. If you've not had cancer yourself, you have a loved one who has.

BUT...I praise God that we do not have to remain in these disease riddled bodies forever! When we accept Jesus Christ's payment for our sins as our own, then we immediately receive eternal life.  His Holy Spirit takes up residence in our hearts and gives us help in time of need. He is ever present with us in our joys and in our sorrows. In our pain and in our health.  I just can't stop thinking about one line I heard from a sermon on the radio a couple of weeks ago. The preacher said this: "God is not a God of protection but a God of presence." What a profound statement. I just had never thought about it that way before.

The only scars that will be in heaven...either visible or invisible...will the the scars in the hands of Jesus Christ. Proof of the price He paid for us to live eternally in heaven with Him. What a gift! What a Saviour!

God bless you my friends!



elaine @ peace for the journey said...

I had no idea the extent of your "cancer" history, Marilyn. So much disease, so many scars. Nothing but the healing work of Jesus can handle pain of this magnitude. Yes, I do imagine you carry some invisible scars because of cancer's toll on your family. My mother, too, lost her mother when she was very young (around 11 I think). It wasn't cancer, but she recalls some of the same feelings you expressed here.

I'm grateful for each day I have with my children, knowing that today is all I hold. Two years ago, I wasn't sure the extent of my cancer and how it would respond to treatment. The thing that frightened me the most was the very real possibility that I might not see my young children grow up. That possibility occasionally haunts me, but I've mostly surrendered that now. I surrender each day into God's hands and live in the assurance that the best is yet to be!

Order is in the mail. I pray these words minister to you in a strong way.


Leah @ Point Ministries said...

Hallelujah!!!! I'm so ready to leave this decaying, dying earth and see Jesus face to face.

I, too, have much cancer in my family. My Daddy died of colon cancer. My grandmother had bladder cancer which was treated and cured. My grandfather had a melanoma removed but he did not die from it. My sister and I have both had melanomas removed.It is a horrific disease and one that I look forward to leaving behind on this earth. Come, Lord, Jesus.

Kathy Schwanke said...

Such a testimony of your faith Marilyn, truly a painful journey. I cannot imagine, it must be one after another with so many struggling in your own family. I love how it is a picture of hope in heaven. Such a glorious God to make a way for us to enjoy HIM forever with none of the flesh-failings. Oh, I can only imagine!!!

Peggy W. said...

Very True!
Thank you for the beautiful card and I look forward to seeing you next week.. I have had a pretty
rough week since last Wednesday when I had the treatment. Didn't feel like going to church on Sunday. Thank you and Bro. Benny for your continued prayers for me. It is a burden that I need Christian friends to share. Hope everything is going well for both of you.

Love you very much,
Your Friend,

Anonymous said...

Martha Greer:
Thanks for this blog. I lost both parents to cancer as well as several other members of my family. It is a bad thing and when people have it, it is really rough on them. I wish they could find a cure but one day we will see all those that have gone on in heaven. They will be cancer free!! Happy days!

Crown of Beauty said...

I'm here after seeing the link on Elaine's FB status. It's a long line of invisible scars for you, and I read your words with tears in my eyes. Yet your words are filled with hope and acceptance. What an encouragement. Thank you for sharing. I'm also hoping to convince some of my friends to get a copy of Elaine's book. We could even do it as one of our resource materials for our women's group in our church.

I'm glad I dropped by your blog this evening.


Pamela said...

"Not a God of protection, but a God of presence." Powerful words. I proved them when my daughter died. He was with me each step of the grieving--still to today. You've lost so many you loved. I don't think many live with out cancer touching them in some way. I'll check out your friend's book.