Don’t Waste Your Cancer

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Don’t waste your cancer.

John Piper wrote this on the eve of his cancer surgery to help people coping with cancer – patients or friends/family of patients. He believes that cancer is an opportunity for Christians to glorify God.

I believe it too…. so is every trial and suffering in our lives. Each problem I experience, each grief I bear, every frustration and disappointment in my life is an opportunity for me to experience God. In sorrow, He gives comfort. In despair, He gives hope. With unlovable people, He enables me to love. For each dilemma, He gives wisdom. In trouble, He gives peace.

When God’s children face difficulties, God is glorified not because the problem goes away but because His children overcome by God’s amazing grace. They are joyful in spite of the circumstances. They give thanks in everything. It is easy to be happy when life is rosy. It is not difficult to be grateful when things are going well. But when there is financial trouble, when relationships are broken, when sickness comes knocking, God’s children shine amidst the darkness. They stand firm, they stand strong, they hang on in faith, hope and love.

You might say it is easier said than done. I tell you it is not only difficult, it is impossible without God beside me. I had cancer when I was 47. When i first discovered that I had cancer, my prayer was Lord, if you think that my life on earth has served its purpose, then I am at peace with it. But if there is something I need to do, then show me the way.

From the shy child that I was, I found courage to pray with a stranger at the cancer centre. The young lady had a big tumour on her forehead. I cannot remember what prayer I uttered but I know God’s purpose for my cancer was so I can help other people with the help that I receive from Him. It was during this period that I discover that life goes on inside the cancer centre. People, some with bald head covered or not, sat in their chairs, read the magazines, talk on the phone, watch the TV. They wait for their treatment, to start, to end. They leave and go home. Life goes on outside the cancer centre as well. In each body, weariness, fatigue, pain and suffering continue.

Each time I accompanied my dad to dialysis, when I passed through the corridor of the kidney institute, I saw life goes on in the hallway leading to the dialysis centre. Sick people, poor or well-off, sat on the bench, sitting or sleeping in their wheelchairs. Perhaps they were there very early in the morning? It is already noon. I wonder what they are waiting for? Is it for a chance to be dialysed – for others to cancel their slot, because the poor cannot have a fixed schedule because they were not sure if they would have the resources to be treated? I am reminded of life’s insecurities. I am made aware of blessings which i should not take for granted.

How did I feel when I see my father weak and frail body, hooked up to the machine, blood being sucked out of him, and pumped back into his body for the next 4 to 5 hours? it is a comfort to see him sleeping soundly. It is not easy to be sick myself, I was in the wheelchair after ankle surgery. It is also hard to see a loved one go through sickness. For the 4 months since my mother passed away, each time I went to visit my father, it was a test of courage and perseverance. It is painful to love. To bear the pain in love takes courage.

Everyday I went to visit with a heavy heart. To hear him answer Amen at the end of prayer comforts me. It pained me when he did not. I find it hard to pray: Lord, thank you that mama is in heaven – where there is no pain, no night and no more tear. I pained me to open my eyes and see tears hovering in his eyes.

Why am I writing all these? It is not easy to reminisce the pain and sadness, narrating sad and ‘morbid’ stories of cancer, dialysis, of pain and tears. I write about it because I do not want to waste my cancer. I remember and tell so I do not waste God’s trials and lessons for me. I share so people will know God is good. I share so they will be encouraged.

We all have our ‘cancer’ in life. In today’s Pinoy culture, we say ‘toxic’. What are the toxic moments of your life? Turn the malignant into something benign or even good. Do not waste your cancer.

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