(This blog was written by my dear friend, Kayla Walker. You will both cry and rejoice as you read the story regarding her mother’s battle with cancer. I have always admired Kayla’s love for Jesus and for others. Our lives have been forever changed from knowing this precious family.)
I can still remember hiding the tears behind my sunglasses as I drove my mother home from that fateful doctor’s appointment. She held back her sobs as she spoke to my grandmother over the phone. “Mom, it’s cancer.”
When you’re a child, you think that your parents are invincible. Usually, the child is the one in need of comfort from their mother or father. Then, suddenly, the roles change. My life changed that day.
Maybe I was naïve, but I felt like “cancer” was a faraway kind of thing. I heard the sad stories and prayed for those affected, but it wasn’t tangible. I never thought it would impact my family. Then, stage four breast cancer invaded our home.
After following some other cancer stories, I was determined that my mom would be a “Survivor.” I remember my mom telling my grandmother in that car ride home, “Now, don’t you worry. I’m going to beat this.” I was encouraged by her determination.
Mom’s cancer was labeled stage four because the cancer metastasized in her bones. The first PET Scan showed dark shadows covering her body like a plague. Overwhelmed, our family turned to prayer as we sought medical help. We prayed for a miracle.
I’m not entirely sure why, but prayer has always been a struggle for me. When hard things happened in my life, I tended to go to other people before turning to God. I lacked trusting God with my needs, and, now, with my mother’s life.
Overtime, He showed me the real power of prayer. One of the greatest revelations came the night our church hosted a prayer service for my mother. After trying different chemotherapy treatments, the doctors chose to have mom undergo a mastectomy. Mom didn’t complain, but her fear was evident. However, she took that fear to God and trusted Him. Our family and friends united with her in that trust. As the pastors anointed her with oil and laid hands upon her, I felt the Lord move throughout the words offered up in prayer. That night gave us all courage for the coming surgery.
The next day, we praised God for hearing our prayers! Mom received results from another PET Scan, and her body was completely clear, minus one tumor in her breast. We were so excited because we just knew that the mastectomy would take the last tumor away.
However, after the surgery, dark clouds rolled in.
The surgery didn’t go well, and the recovery was even worse. An open wound appeared in her side and had to be cleaned every day. It was painful, but mom didn’t complain. She kept smiling through the staff infection that came, and the lymphedema that grew worse in her arm.
Because the recovery was so rough, we lost three months of treatment. Within that time, the cancer returned twofold, and she had to return to chemotherapy. Her body rejected treatment after treatment and eventually, she had to have radiation therapy. The radiation was brutal, and her immune system began to fail.
The hospital became mom’s second home. It was agony for her, but still she didn’t complain. Her spirit was amazing, and soon the nurses fell in love with her. It’s incredible when someone comes into the room and says, “I just had to meet the amazing patient that everyone loves.” Even in pain, mom loved people well.
If you didn’t know my mother, you missed out on an incredible blessing. I know it may sound bias, but she really was one of the best women in the world. Why? Because of her love for the Lord. That love was evident throughout her life, but during her greatest battle, that love was magnified. She united all of her suffering with God. Jesus Christ shined through her in a way that made this fallen world brighter, and if you came in contact with her, you walked away changed.
It made no sense to me how God could take such a beacon of light out of this dark world. But, mom was taken.
In a matter of days, mom’s health rapidly declined; more tumors began to cover her body. The once smiling woman became detached and unsure of what was happening. She stopped eating and drinking. When the pain would hit, she would say how ready she was to die.
It suddenly hit me. There wasn’t going to be a miracle. My mom’s cancer wasn’t going away. She wasn’t going to be a “Survivor.” All of my emotions and fears were magnified.
One of my greatest fears was that my mom wouldn’t meet her future grandchildren. My husband and I have been trying for a baby since 2014. I know that doesn’t seem long, but when you learn that your mother has cancer, and the only thing she wants is “to see her grandbabies,” your understanding of time changes. It may sound foolish, but I kept telling myself that a grandchild would save my mother’s life. Yes, it was irrational, but it was where my heart kept running.
As my mom grew sicker and no positive pregnancy test came, I began to feel helpless. I tried my best to help her in other ways, but it was so hard to physically comfort her. Praise God for the family and friends who sacrificed their time and energy for her. They did so much, but I hated that I could not give her the one thing she told me she wanted – a grandbaby.
Reluctantly, I took this fear and others to God. Like I said, it was hard for me to humble myself and ask God to take control. Because mom’s battle with cancer was so inconsistent with the good and bad news, I didn’t know how to come to Him in prayer. I would remember “thy will be done” as I prayed and often felt, “I’m going to pray this, but God isn’t going to answer.” I knew when God made this perfect world, there was no illness or suffering. However, sin entered the picture and with it came cancer. But, I struggled with the concept of God being in control of everything. I couldn’t help but ask, “Why? If He is all powerful and a miraculous healer, why is He not choosing to save my faithful mother?”
Through all my doubt, mom stayed strong and continuously quoted Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” She trusted in the Lord’s will, even though it became clear that it wasn’t what she desired.
As I witnessed my mom’s faith and willingness to humble herself in her suffering, my eyes were opened to the truth. Mom helped me to see that God is a loving Father who desires that His name be shared throughout the world. He reveals Himself through different people in different ways.
God knew His glory would be found in mom’s battle with cancer. There was a beauty in the fight that revealed itself in her trust and devotion to the Lord. God knew that my mom would praise Him through the treatments, the surgery, the wounds, the burns, and He knew that her humble praise would make people ask, “How could a woman in such pain still praise a God who could heal her, but wouldn’t?”
It didn’t make sense to the world, but it made sense to my mom. She wanted the world to follow her journey and see the belief she had in her God, the God that is mighty to save. And, He did save her – over 2,000 years ago when He allowed His Son to die the ultimate death. She followed Him to the cross and loved Him with all her heart. She knew her pain was nothing compared to the pain Christ experienced, and a death without Him would result in infinite pain. But, because of her faith, she would experience the ultimate way life was to be lived. Her life, full of hope and grace, led to eternal joy.
So, did my mom lose the battle with cancer? Yes. But at the same time, she was victorious, because Christ was victorious. And, with that victory, the world has witnessed beauty. Through her fight with cancer, I learned that the times we suffer could be the most beautiful if we have Christ to walk through them with us.
I can look at my place in mom’s battle differently now. I thought having a baby was the way to help her, but I believe now that there was reason that I never got pregnant. God protected me from possible complications via stress or the struggle with balancing time with mom and a newborn. I am so thankful for those days I had with mom and those intimate moments. God blessed me with those opportunities. He showed me that I did all I could do for her; I treasured her and all the wisdom she gave me. With the godly knowledge passed down to me, I was able to stay strong and share this journey with others through Facebook. It was a small thing, but I have been told how much it meant to those who loved her.
Now, as I suffer with knowing the pain of losing my mother in this earthly life, I know that my suffering is just for a little while. Someday, I will walk with my mom again, but she will be smiling, completely healed – no more cancer. What a beautiful life that will be! What an adventure! For now I will weep, missing her stories and smiles, but I will also sing praises for a mother who pointed me to Christ during the good and the bad. I remember her say, “Now, don’t you worry. I am going to beat this.” And I reply, “Well done, mom. You did.”
“O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:55-57