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.
More than 1.5 million people each year will encounter the storm of life-threatening proportions we call cancer. At least 1 woman in 8 will suffer breast cancer in their lifetime – 650,000 new diagnosis each year. The great fear that accompanies a cancer diagnosis is surpassed only by the heavy toll treatment takes on the patient’s physical, emotional, relational and spiritual life.
I know personally the heavy toll of cancer treatment having suffered it throughout all of 2012. After my diagnosis with advanced stage breast cancer in December of 2011, I entered the cancer world and realized in stark dismay that once you go through the cancer door, you can’t go back. Everyone copes with the deadly diagnosis in their own way. Some hide at home; others turn to support groups. Some read and research all they can; others hide from learning much of anything at all.
I read. I prayed. I wept. I wrote. Each day I would drag myself with a cup of Lady Earl Grey tea and a fist full of paper towels to my prayer chair. I would search the Scriptures for something God would say to me personally that day. I would use up every paper towel in my avalanche of tears. I would cry out to God, sometimes yes, yelling even, asking if He noticed that I might die. And I began to chronicle my journey, my struggle, my fear, my pain and my victories on a medical blog for my prayer supporters to read.
It became a holy action, this reading, praying, weeping and writing. My prayer chair virtually lit up when Jesus came in that special way He does to those who hurt and who need Him so desperately. In a dream one night He showed me the hard, rocky path I was walking but as I gazed at the road of my awful assignment, I saw gold nuggets planted there. I knew the Lord had placed them to remind me that He was with me as I walked this terrible road. They were signs of His presence and His blessing, making the journey not just bearable, but even beautiful.
And so the writing done in those months became a book telling of the awful but bearable, the terrible but beautiful journey of walking with Jesus through the cancer storm. Gold in the Road is my account of being a woman pastor facing every hardship and treatment a breast cancer sufferer can encounter. Yes, it’s a serious book because cancer is a serious topic, but it is laced with humanity, anecdotes and humor.
I hope you’ll read it. But more, I hope you’ll give it to someone going through a cancer storm, or someone who loves someone going through a cancer storm. Or maybe to someone in another kind of awful trial. Gold in the Road tells the true tale of finding the presence of Christ in the midst of the worst of times. And His presence changes everything. He was my Gold in the Road.