Cancer Lessons in Grace

The diagnosis of breast cancer came as a shock. It took several weeks before that wore off, and it occasionally returns at new bends in the road. But the cancer was caught very early and after surgery remained at Stage 1. Even so, there’s radiation ahead (gratefully missing out on chemo) and hormone therapy for years after that.

I’ve learned several lessons so far, and no doubt there are more to come. The first is that it’s never “over,” but always both preventive and recovering. After successful surgery, I assumed I could go back to the old Normal in my expectations and lifestyle. I’ve hardly begun to make those changes, but I know that the old Normal is gone (air travel with a compression sleeve, for example, let alone diet and exercise).

A second learning was that it helps me immensely to learn all I can about the new reality. So I read the 200-page manual eagerly to find out about anatomy, diagnosis and treatment, and continue to ply my medical team with questions each time we meet. That’s a third lesson: help always is better when you have a team, and don’t have to rely on just one authority.

But the biggest lesson for me in all of this so far is the gift of a community of caring persons who share a bit of practical advice and a whole lot of love and prayers. I’ve been amazed by how many survivors, friends, neighbors and pray-ers have come forward with cards, calls, emails and more – and even prayer and laying on of hands by my surgeon. This whole journey has been infused with God’s grace.

Your partner in ministry,

Betsy Schwarzentraub