October 1st is always an emotional day for me. One I wish I could forget but with all of the "Pink-tober" found all around us, in stores, and on TV this time of year, it makes it difficult not to think about it. I remember leaving the doctor's office that day in 2008 and driving to the grocery store and noticing all of the pink food labels and awareness ribbons on the first day of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It kind of made me mad. "How dare they hijack this disease for profit?", I thought. And here we are five years later and nothing has changed. It still makes me mad. I hope it makes YOU mad too! Where is THE CURE already!?
But on October 1st this year I was asked to do something I couldn't say no to. Our church had asked
me to tell my story to the nearly 300 women that come there every Tuesday morning, and I had felt an urging to do just that for several months now.
But I didn't tell my breast cancer story, though that was part of it. Four years ago I stood on the same stage at the same meeting and, while still in treatment, and explained God's grace and provision to me during my battle. What most people don't know (and I didn't know myself!) was that the battle for my mind and my heart was only just beginning. God was about to show me what my faith was really in, and what the priorities in my life were. THIS is the story I gave to these 300 women.
See, when you are diagnosed with a critical illness, and life spins out of your control, you begin to feel as though you need to take control. And so that is what I thought I had to do to keep the same awful thing from happening to me again. Getting test and after test, biopsy and after biopsy was my security blanket. I was putting my trust in what medicine could prove to me: that cancer had not returned and that I would live a long time in remission. But medicine can't promise me that, and God won't either. He doesn't do that for any of us! I have to be okay with that, but it is a helpless feeling! The tests won't prevent a return of cancer. They only tell me that it has or it hasn't occurred.
I use to think that if I just knew my end fate in this life, I would have peace. But in my journey through cancer I have made friends who, sadly, DO know their fate. They will likely succumb to their disease and yet this knowledge doesn't give them one ounce of peace, or even one more day longer than their "appointed day". I've even lost friends to their cancer and they fought hard to the end but the end did come. None of us can escape death no matter what we do.
My struggle to find this place of contentment with the unknown brought me to a turning point this year. I went on a church retreat in March where I saw a huge bird's nest. For two days on the coast I never saw the bird. But on the last day, during Sunday's worship service, I went outside by myself to my car to retrieve something, and there was the bird! A beautiful osprey whom I just HAD to photograph! No sooner did I have that thought, I heard an almost audible voice say "No". "Wait until the end of the retreat, go back inside where you belong and when you return the bird will be here". I told God, "No he will not be here because he will fly away when people start coming out of the building and cars start up!" (Yes, I stood there having this argument with God!) But I put my faith in that promise and sure enough, hours later when I went to leave the retreat property, there was the bird!
Not only was the bird there, but for a very long time he stared me down like God Himself as if to say, "Koryn, WHY do you not trust me? Why do you not believe my promises to you?!" It was like a tug-of-war in my spirit to release this unknown. I want His promises to include a cancer free life. But I don't get to demand that. He wants my trust. He wants me to rest in Him and His plan. His plan is good, even if that includes what to us seems unfair circumstances. Our definition of good is for comfort, for security, for assurance. But this world can't offer that!
Only a God who is not of this world can show us where hope truly lies. It is in Him, our "cure" to sin and a fallen world. A promise of a body made whole again, a promise of life without death, and a promise that He will never leave us while we remain here on Earth in these broken bodies. A promise of comfort that can only come from knowing Him.
When I turned to walk to my car I heard a noise above my head. With my camera in hand, I turned and glanced up to see this
Does this mean that I no longer have to undergo cancer surveillance? No. But I no longer have to be bound by fear and anxiety about my future. Wherever it leads me, He will be there every step of the way. Even in the unknown. Even if there is pain. Even if there is suffering, loss or grief. He will be there. He holds in His hand a gift of the cure to man's undeniable cancer called sin. This is a cure we all have access to.
And this is what I celebrate 5 years later!