Momma, Wife, Believer, Ductal Carcinoma Survivor
By Amanda Elliott
“There’s not a world in which it’s possible you have cancer,” my husband said.
I wanted it to be true. At 28 weeks pregnant, I wanted it to be true. Holding his hand through lymphoma treatment, nowhere close to done, I wanted it to be true. Days later I would learn I had aggressive breast cancer. And when I did, I had just one phrase:
All things work together. All things work together. All. Things. Work. Together.” Just the one little portion of my beloved verse – Romans 8:28 – the only thing I could speak. I didn’t search for words. I had been pressed; like an olive crushed to make oil. Broken. And what poured out of me in that moment was the one phrase. The throaty whisper of just one truth.
All things work together.
It would become my anthem. The cry of my heart. In the chemo chair, during the ultrasounds, when I felt the contractions too early, lying in the MRI machine when I couldn’t hold the baby because of the radiation. I would remember His words. His truth. His promises.
His words became food for my spirit. The words I spoke, the prayers we prayed, the verses we stood on became like a sword slicing through the dark and pouring light and hope into the depths of my weary spirit.
Verses I long knew began to breathe and grow. Like a seed planted deep in this Momma’s heart years before, God watered it and fed it and with every step of faith over the years, something had begun to bloom deep within me. Something that when the storm came, it could not be washed away or rooted out.
God performed two miracles for me — one, my body and the other, my mind.
After I felt the lump, the Lord impressed this promise on me, “No matter what you see or hear or feel or taste or smell, no matter the report – when it’s all said and done, you and your girl will be okay.”
I stood with arms raised over my growing belly, worshipping at our home church. My husband, his beard lost to chemo and his body fighting, playing his guitar and singing with what energy the Lord miraculously gave. I wept and I worshipped and I knew then if it didn’t look like victory, it wasn’t finished.
The cancer was aggressive; I felt it grow larger as we prepared for treatment. Yet, I know we serve a God of miracles. I knew without a doubt He could take that lump away in the flash of an eye. We prayed in faith. Many did. But, the tumor grew. I believed our baby would be healthy.
But, I was getting chemo.
I believed I would be able to deliver her safely. But, I could barely walk or stand or sit in a normal chair. It was in these days we faced the paradox of God’s goodness and what we see with our own eyes. The space between the promise and the finished work. Where we must decide if we move forward in victory when the battle is still at hand.
The key to victory for us rested in more than wanting it. We had to believe it. Speak the Word. Praise Him. No matter what. That didn’t come without tears. Days I could barely lift my head and nights when my heart was heavy.
But, He gave us peace. No matter what. For a woman who was medicated for years in my 20s for anxiety, this is a God-sized feat.
“He keeps in perfect peace those whose minds are fixed on Him,” I would say this again and again. As we walked through this narrow way we never expected, I heard Him, “The breakthrough comes at the crossroads of your greatest refinement and my greatest glory.”
Two treatments in and I could no longer feel the tumor. The doctors began a delicate balance of pausing treatment to prepare my body for labor. “A tumor of this kind usually wakes up between weeks 3 and 4 when you stop chemo,” the doctors said.
“…we do live in a world where a pregnant, Jesus-loving Momma, whose husband is fighting cancer, CAN, in fact, be diagnosed with cancer. The rain falls on us all on this earth.”
And so we stopped in expectation of Evlyn arriving early and me beginning chemo quickly again. And then we waited. Each week it became more difficult to walk. Basic tasks were impossible. If I couldn’t even do a load of laundry, how could I birth a baby? Then one night, it was just me and the good Lord in the wee hours of the morning, and He gave me this – I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. I will carry you through this.
And He did. Evlyn was born healthy and strong and weighing more than 8 pounds. The labor was far easier than it had been with my son 7 years earlier. The day she was born she held up her strong little head and looked me straight in the eyes as if to say, “I’m here, lookout.” It would be a nine-week break in total before I could resume chemo, and yet the tumor shrunk to a few disorganized cells only a few millimeters in size.
It was Good Friday when we got the news. Just days after my husband got a clear PET Scan. We took our sweet Evie, at less than a month old, to church; we had an impromptu dedication.
A picture of victory. A picture of His faithfulness. I learned in those months and the ones that have followed that we do live in a world where a pregnant, Jesus-loving Momma, whose husband is fighting cancer, CAN, in fact, be diagnosed with cancer. The rain falls on us all on this earth.
And I never had to ask why.
I know why. We live in a fallen world with an active enemy. God healed me. Rescued me. And He sustained us in every moment before we saw the victory. What the enemy meant for our harm, God is using for His glory.
One friend put it this way — the devil will regret the day he ever gave you cancer. If I was loud before about the goodness of God, it’s like someone gave me a megaphone.
And that’s where the breakthrough comes for all of us. Where our faith goes from philosophy to our very lives.
The results are miraculous. I once thought God would either give me peace or heal me. I learned the truth that He does both. Completely. We may live in a world where the rain falls on us all, but, for the children of God, we have a refuge that protects us through it all.