7 Gifts Hidden in the Shadow of Cancer

How could anything good come from cancer?

As an oncology nurse, I was familiar with the ravages of cancer and chemotherapy. But in 2006, ovarian cancer flung me to the other side of the bed. I dutifully exchanged my nursing scrubs for peekaboo gowns and skid free gripper socks. Instead of threading needles into the veins of my patients, machines pumped chemotherapy into my veins. 

Chemotherapy pummeled my body, and I didn’t think I would survive the next hour, the next minute. But somewhere in the midst of this devastation and beyond, God surprised me with an overriding sense of his grace and showered me with gifts, hidden in the shadow of cancer.

Seven Gifts Hidden in the Shadow of Cancer 

1.Family and Friends—I experienced the love and support of many people who prayed with and for me. They provided meals, comforted me, sat with me during tests, helped me select wigs, and provided rides to chemotherapy. Well-wishers sent cards, gifts and flowers, reminding me I was not forgotten.

2. Rest—I could do nothing, absolutely nothing for several days following chemotherapy. I wasn’t only physically and mentally impaired, but I felt spiritually impaired, unable to focus to read my Bible or pray. But God only asked that I rest like a child in his arms, the arms of a loving Father, and allow him to carry me through this trial. 

3. Laughter—While I lay in the hospital bed with my finger poised over the pain button, my sister surfed the internet for wigs, hats, and scarves. “We have to make this fun,” she said. Fun? Where was sisterly commiseration? But she was right. Shopping for wigs and hats was fun. I laughed as I tied scarves that turned askew on my bald head and morphed into pirate patches. Books and humerous cards buoyed my spirits.

4. New Friends—Nine years after my diagnosis, I finally met other ovarian cancer survivors at an ovarian cancer camp, Camp-Mak-A-Dream in Missoula MT. Eventually I connected with other local survivors. We meet monthly for lunch and plan social outings and fundraisers for ovarian cancer. We are The Fried Eggs—Sunny-Side Up.

5. Empathy—As a nurse, I felt sympathy for my cancer patients, but I never really understood the struggle living in the world of cancer. But now as a survivor, I experience this unspoken bond, a glance that says it all. I know. 

6. Gratitude—I am thankful for God’s faithfulness through the many trials in my life, including cancer. He has brought me out on the other side. I am cancer free. 

7. New direction and purpose—I wrote the book, In Her Shoes: Dancing in the Shadow of Cancer,to help other women struggling with a cancer diagnosis. I included my ovarian cancer story and the stories of other women surviving cancer as well as helpful tips. I also write encouraging articles for women undergoing chemotherapy. Along with other survivors, I share my ovarian cancer story with medical students in the Survivors Teaching Students program, hoping that earlier detection will save women’s lives. 

God gives many gifts—sometimes hidden but always a blessing.  

 If you, imperfect as you are, know how to lovingly take care of your children and give them what’s best, how much more ready is your heavenly Father to give wonderful gifts to those who ask him? (Matthew 7:11 TPT)

What hidden gifts have you received from the Lord when you were going through a difficult season? 

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