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Testimony

 

The following is a transcript of a testimony Ann gave in a service on September 13, 1998.    The sermon for the morning was "Gratitude for Mending Grace".   The sermon was based on Psalm 30.

 

Good Morning. I would like to begin with a prayer. Lord, I thank you so much for this day and the blessings of this day. Thank you for Charlie’s words (the minister) that have touched me so much. I thank you for the opportunity to stand before these people and tell them how you have blessed me through their prayers. Be with me now as I speak and help me to say what you want me to say. In your name I pray, Amen.

You can tell by the way my voice is shaking and by the way I am not breathing so good, that I am very nervous. When you pray for things, you have to accept God’s answer to prayer – and I never asked him why I have cancer, but I asked him what he was going to do with it, and what he wanted me to do, and how he wanted me to glorify his name. I never thought he would want me to stand before you and talk about what he done in my life. That wasn't exactly  what I had in mind, so you have to be careful what you pray for! This is a very tender subject for me, and I will cry, so just hang in there with me.

God prepared me for cancer years ago. I have been trying to think of when that was – and I guess the older you get the faster time flies because I don’t have a clue. But probably I would say around 5 years ago. One day I had a deep feeling and it was to soul level, that I would fight the battle of cancer one day. And it scared me to death, because I did not know anything about cancer and to me cancer was a death sentence. I did not know where that came from, , and it scared me and I did not know what to do with it. I never told anyone about this experience either. One day I was at my parents house, and we were sitting around the table talking – I don’t know what we were talking about, but something must have been mentioned about cancer. My Dad looked at me and said, "Ann, you know one thing you don’t ever have to worry about is having cancer. Because no one in our family has cancer, and never had." My Mom even told me that I never missed a day of school in 12 years due to sickness. So I am very healthy. At that point I put those thoughts and feelings aside, and I told the Lord that if I did have to walk that road one day I knew he would be with me. Worrying about it was not doing any good – so I put it aside and I really did forget about it. I never thought about it anymore after a few weeks. Last June, a year ago, I started having severe pain in my stomach. I was going through a lot of stress at that time, so we chalked it up to that. We had just built a new house and moved into it, I had just studied and passed my CPC exam within my industry – which is a book of laws about an inch thick – that I had been studying for quite some time, and I had just signed papers to buy a business. So you can understand why we though it was just a stressful time. But as the stress went away the pain continued to get worse, so I went through a battery of test – the last being a colonoscopy I had done on December 12th, which was basically to rule out that there was anything wrong. It was a shock to the doctor, as well as to us when they found a large mass in my large intestine that had been growing for quite some time. In fact my large intestine was almost completely closed – which is a miracle that I had not died from the blockage. I had surgery six days later, in which I had 12 inches of my colon, and 29 lymph nodes removed. The Lord blessed me by sending a wonderful doctor, that held my hand all through this – one of our congregation, Randy Ely – who was another blessing that God sent in my path. Two days later I learned that I had cancer. At that time the Lord brought back those thoughts that I had about 5 years ago. He gave me a peace that passes all my understanding. On Christmas Eve I came home from the hospital with the knowledge that I had 5 tumors in my liver. My prognoses were not good. I knew that the road was going to be hard. The oncologist here sent me to Chapel Hill (NC), because they had said surgery was not an option. I went to see a surgeon in Chapel Hill that said I was a borderline candidate for liver surgery. That I could have no more than 5 tumors in my liver in order to have this operation. They wanted me to go through chemotherapy for the next few months and see how my body responded to it. I also met with an oncologist there who told me without surgery I would die. That was a hard time for us too. We came home and I started chemotherapy, and I have to tell you that was very difficult - I did not want to go through that and I had to really pray to get through it and I knew that your prayers were with me. That helped me so much. Three weeks after I started chemotherapy was probably the hardest time my family experienced, because I had an allergic reaction and had to stop chemotherapy. We did not know if I would be able to continue. There again your    prayers were with us – we lowered the dosage and I was able to continue the rest of that cycle. I had a MRI following the first six treatments, and it showed at that time only three tumors in my liver. The largest tumor, which was 2 inches in diameter had shrunk down to 1 inch – another of God’s blessings. I continued through chemotherapy for another 6 weeks and in May I had another MRI and it only showed 2 tumors – and the large tumor had shrunk a little bit more. So I became a candidate for liver surgery. They prepared me for surgery by telling me it was major surgery, it was extremely painful, it was very hard to get over, and that it would be difficult. But there was hope. They were going to have to remove half of the right lobe of my liver, and maybe part of the left lobe. When I went into surgery I can tell you I was not a bit afraid. And the reason I was not afraid was because I knew that the prayers of this congregation were with me – and that gave me courage and strength. They did not have to take any of my liver, but rather froze the large tumor and took the small tumor out. I do not remember any pain – I was uncomfortable – but I do not remember any pain. I did incredibly well through surgery and the recovery. I even got to come home 2 days early. I am going back through chemotherapy now for 2 more 6-week sessions as a preventative measure. I had a MRI 4 weeks ago and it showed my liver was clear. I went and had chemotherapy on Tuesday and got my blood results back. Those of you have gone through cancer know that CEA levels are pretty important – they measure the level of cancer that you have in your body. My levels were back to the normal range. 0.06 – and that was a "yeah God" moment.

I do not believe that God causes bad things to happen to us, but I believe that he allows things to come in our lives to change our paths – to give us wisdom, to make our walk closer with him. I do not know what he wants me to do, I do know I have a compassion for people with cancer that I did not have 9 months ago. I understand all the prognosis, and diagnosis, and the MRI, and the chemotherapy – and I can truly feel what they feel. I do not know if He will use that. I am still asking and He is still telling me to be patient.

I have had a lot of scripture that has been very important to me. One that I repeat just about everyday is "I can do all things through Christ who strengths me."     Phil. 4:13  Another scripture that has been very important to me for as long as I can remember, that I want to read to you is from Romans 5:1-5:

"So now since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith in his promises, we can have real peace with him because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. For because of our faith He has brought us into this place of highest privilege, where we now stand and confidently and joyfully look forward to actually becoming all that God has had in mind for us to be. "

This is my favorite part.

"We can rejoice too when we run into problems and trials for we know that they are good for us. They help us to learn to be patient, and patience develops strength of character in us and helps us trust God more each time we use it, until finally our hope and faith are strong and steady. Then when that happens, we are able to hold our heads high, no matter what happens, and know that all is well. For we know how dearly God loves us, and we feel this warm love everywhere within us, because God has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love."

I feel like that is what has happened to me, I feel like cancer has been the rock in my path and that the Lord has let me grow in Him through having cancer. Someone asked me one day, "How do you deal with having cancer, and stay so positive?" My answer to them was that God gives us sufficient grace when we need it, but I got to thinking about it, and I thought about all the blessings that I have received from having cancer. And they far outweigh the cancer. You are one of those blessings.

I would like for us to turn to the Litany of Praise.

Ann:        Oh Lord my God I cried out to you for help,
              and you have healed me.

People:   Weeping may linger for the night,
              but joy comes with the morning.

Family:    You have turned our morning into dancing,
               You have taken off our sackcloth and clothed us with joy,
               so that our souls may praise you and not be silent.
               O Lord, our God, we will give thanks to you forever.


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