When Cancer Comes Close

It is reported that more than 1.2 million people will be diagnosed with cancer this year.  Sadly, more than 600,000 people in the U.S. will die from this awful disease in this year alone.  There will be survivors, praise the Lord, but not until treatment has battered the body as well as the soul and spirit.

I have a dear friend who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer.  She is undergoing treatment and expectations are that she will survive and thrive after treatment.  I give God praise for this!  When I met with her last week, she commented on how the people who spoke to her about diagnosis didn’t use the word “cancer”.  Instead, they said they were sorry about her “situation” or “what was going on” with her.

cancer-isnt-dirty-wordPeople don’t like to talk about cancer.  It’s almost superstitious, as if saying the word might make the disease jump the road and affect their family.  Kay Warren, wife of Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback fame and two-time cancer sufferer herself, has said that “cancer is the most feared word in the English language.”  After several years of front-line cancer ministry, I can say I agree with her.

But the reality is that for 1 out of every 2 men and 1 out of every 3 women, cancer will “jump the road” and they will face cancer at some point in their lifetime.  And when cancer comes close, well, all of life changes.  For me, it was a full year in treatment with surgery, chemo and radiation, then two years of further surgeries and many years on a hormone inhibiting drug.  Yep, all of life is different now.  Am I a survivor?  No, not quite.  Cancer is still in my body, but simply kept at bay with special drugs.  But I am alive for which I’m most grateful.  And I am honored to use the life the Lord has given me to reach out to people who suffer with cancer.

People like Philip’s daughter Kami.  I became Kami’s stepmom when she was a pretty 14-year old.  She wasn’t one of those rebellious teenage girls, but a sweet, funny, lovable 14-year old whose laugh was contagious and whose quirky comments made you laugh too.  In 1984, she asked Philip and me, “If you are getting married soon, will you get married on my birthday?”  And so we did, tying the knot on Christmas Eve, 1984 because Kami was Kameron NOEL Young, born — you guessed it — on Christmas Eve.  Kami served as my maid of honor and Garrett, Philip’s son as best man at a sweet little ceremony at a sweet little church in a sweet little town in the mountains of Central Oregon.

Kami went on to marry Evan, the love of her life.  They eventually moved to Colorado where they were raising their three daughters and living a great life together.  But then cancer came close and Kami was diagnosed with breast cancer at far too young an age.  Usually when breast cancer is found in younger women, it is more aggressive.  Kami went through lots of treatment which she handled with amazing positivity and patient endurance.

py-kami-cpy-denver-nov-2016But now Kami has Metastatic Breast Cancer, the kind that spreads beyond the breast to other organs of the body.  The kind that can never, ever be cured and leaves the patient in treatment every day they live.  Those who suffer with this type of breast cancer are often called “Lifers”.   Kami’s breast cancer has gone to her liver and brain.  Recent chemo has done a number on her immune system, so Kami’s a pretty sick girl.  The breast cancer that has gone to the brain is leaving neurological effects which are more than troubling.  Yet, Kami remains her inimitable, positive, cheerful self, enduring treatment after treatment, hospitalization after hospitalization, doctor’s appointment after doctor’s appointment with quiet calm and resolve.  She wants to live longer for the sake of her daughters.  Of course she does.

When cancer comes close, your character is tested and tried.  And sometimes, we see the gold that resides within shining more brightly in these awful times than any other.  And this can be true for those who care for the cancer sufferer too.  Evan’s rock-like strength and patient care for Kami in these times demonstrates what kind of man he truly is.  And this man is an outstanding one.  The kind of man you’d trust your daughter to.

So what does God have to say when cancer comes close?  

Well, His most important response came in the profound act of sending His Son Jesus, who demonstrated God’s compassion as He walked this earth healing “all” (Matthew 15:30 NLT) and “everyone” (Luke 4:40 NLT).  There is no question God hates disease.  Otherwise why would Jesus have spent so much time healing the sick?  And we know there is no cancer in heaven, so it is not God who afflicts people with cancer.  This disease, like others, is just the result of a broken, broken world.

And we have amazing Scriptures which speak of God’s compassion for those who suffer.  Here are just a few which can be helpful and hopeful to someone suffering with cancer.

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.  2 Corinthians 4:16-19

Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.  Isaiah 40:31

In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears.  Psalm 18:6

Cancer experts tell us that if we live long enough, each one of us will have to face cancer.  If not our own, cancer affecting a loved one.  Cancer will come close.  If this is true, we’d be wise to stop being fearful of it or superstitious about it!  We be better to wise up and strengthen our faith to enable us to face even cancer with confidence because Jesus Christ will be with us in all our storms.  He has promised us He will never leave us, even to the end of the age.  (Matthew 28:20)

kami-and-girls-wrapped-up-in-quiltsEnding on a personal note, may I ask your prayers for Kami, her husband Evan and their daughters Piadara, Talullah and Ailey (pictured here in happier days)?    Also for Jill, Lois, Betty, Emily, Rebekah and so many others.

I invite your comments to this post with the names of the cancer sufferers you pray for.

Breast Cancer Cancer Faith Metastatic Breast Cancer

revcathieyoung View All →

After more than 25 years in parish ministry, Rev. Cathie retired in early 2018 to pursue a quieter life with her husband Philip in the mountains of Central Oregon. Although no longer a leader in congregational life, she continues to follow her calling and passion to minister to those who suffer, especially those with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.

9 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Thank you dear Cathie. The scriptures you posted fed my broken weary soul. God is teaching,refining and strengthening me as I walk this very hard journey with the beautiful cancer sufferers he has put in my life that I love so dearly.

  2. Dear Cathie and Philip. Thank you for your post. I will be praying for Kami and your family. I needed to read this today. My dear brother Charlie passed away yesterday from cancer. He was diagnosed nine weeks ago and he did suffer. He also was an amazing inspiration to all who knew him ,requesting to see certain people and doing certain things before he passed. I thank God that he was able to have communion and anointing. He was surrounded by so much love from his elementary school friends to family during hospice. I never thought I would be affected by Cancer, but I’ve lost two family members to cancer this year. I know your sweet Kami and family will be surrounded with your love and the love of Jesus. Please give your Prince Philip my love and I pray he feels the Lords’ presence. Love and blessings. 🙏🙏❤️️

  3. Thank you for sharing such an intimate story – I am so privileged to pray for Kami and her family and will do so with great faith that God is truly lifting them all up for His glory. I pray for you and Philip and continued strength during this time – I am so glad you all have each other!!

    Much love, Betsy

  4. My heart breaks for all you Rev Cathie, Philip, Kami, her girls, and husband are going through right now. I will do the one thing I know I can do, and that’s to pray. The one who has ALL POWER in heaven and earth will take it from there.
    With much love❣️

  5. This is heart gripping news!! We will be praying! May His Peace, Presence and Stabilizing Comfort be with all of you!!!
    Hugs and Love,

  6. Dear Cathy,I so look forward to your “Gold in the Road” post your insight your faith your ministry for cancer survivors is so inspiring. Yes, it is hard to say the word I have walked the journey 7 times with my Mom. I am so incredibly saddened for this news as I was reading your email to Bob as I love to do when I receive it, he immediately dropped to his knees in prayer. Our heart are saddened for this news 1st I think of Prince Philip to go through with you then his daughter it overwhelms me. He is a strong man of prayer and faith and also human and it hurts deeply. Then of her dear children & husband what a fight Kami has in her, what a testimony. It looks so impossible but is anything really too hard for God. Oh God Please Heal. We will keep dear Kami in our prayers and of course you & Philip and the entire family. I really miss you. I so treasure my memories of the great Ladies Bible Study and what a gifted teacher you are. You will always hold a very special place in my heart.Love & Hugs DavidaMay the Lord bless you and protect you. May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord show you His Favor and give you His peace.Numbers 6:24-26

  7. Dearest Cathie,
    Kami and Evan along with their beautiful family are in our prayers. May they feel the warmth of love and protection from Jesus our Lord. Thank you for sharing your family struggles and for being so authentic. We have you and Prince Philip on our prayer list too. I am moved by your family’s faith in the Lord, strength, and love for one another. The Bible verses you shared spoke to me and are so powerful. May you all continue to cling to God for peace and strength during this time! God bless and much love,
    Lynn and Mark

  8. Thank you for your post on the ‘C’ word, CANCER!. Yes, it’s staggering to see so many of our friends contract this terrible disease and then face all the subsequent treatments. But I like your statement that no matter what “God will never leave us nor forsake us”! We are putting Kami and her family in our prayers and will also pray for them each Monday night at our prayer group. We’ve also been praying for Fred, Liz, Jim(s) and Ron. The list could go on. We’re especially praying for you and Philip as you continue your outreach and ministry to those afflicted. I know that a lot of people have found comfort from attending and sharing at your Cancer with Compassion ministry!
    God bless,
    Frank & Kathy

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