By Sandy Del Grande
You have breast cancer…the words no woman wants to hear. That was 16 years ago. The memories flood back to me in pictures, the dreaded look on the face of the mammography tech as she tells me I need to speak to the radiologist. The phone call from my doctor at 3 PM giving me the biopsy results. How can I pull myself together before I pick up my kids from school at 3:15? The surreal experience of sitting in a plastic surgeon’s office with a breast reconstruction brochure in my hand. Is this really happening?
I had been a committed Christian for 8 years when this trial entered my life. I can tell you; nothing matures your faith like a testing. I felt so close to the Lord during that time. It was amazing how all the unimportant distractions fell away so quickly, and my priorities came into focus.
I knew I needed to move quickly from fear to faith to get through this storm. I saturated my mind with the Word of God. The words of the bible came alive ministering to me comfort, peace, and hope. It was in my weakness and brokenness that God could shine through. I wondered how my faith would hold up. It turns out it had nothing to do with me and everything to do with God. It was about what He would do and how He would show himself faithful.
I opted for a double mastectomy because I wanted the course of treatment that gave me the best odds of not having it return. I did not want a life of constant screenings, mammograms, MRI’s, ultrasounds, and what I call…torture by testing. After the surgery, the outpouring of love from my church family was both humbling and healing to me. Mercifully, my church, Montclair Community Church, was a place I could be real, open, and transparent.
One of the key things that helped me get through this ordeal was that I would only allow myself a five- minute pity party each day. So after five minutes of feeling sorry for myself, I would take my eyes off myself and put them on God. Whatever we focus on and give our attention to gets bigger. Focus on your problems, they get bigger. Focus on God and He gets bigger. I chose to dwell on God’s past faithfulness to me. Isaiah 26:3 says, “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.”
I tried to maintain an attitude of gratitude even though I had many complications after the reconstruction. Despite setback after setback, I would find something to be thankful for in the midst of my situation. 1st Thessalonians 5:16 says, “Be joyful always, pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
This wasn’t a journey I would have chosen to take, but it has made me a better, stronger person for having gone through it. The author C.S. Lewis says, “God speaks to us in our pleasures but shouts to us in our pain.” My life will never be the same again…but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I would not change things even if I could. I gained so much more than I lost.
Questions to consider:
Her Life Speaks is all about Her testimony, Her life, and who God is in Her story. Here we write our stories in hopes of helping other women find their relationship with Jesus Christ.