DEFEATING THE VIOLATION OF CANCER IS AN UPHILL BATTLE, often quite lonely, painful and certainly terrifying. It is a tremendous, crushing weight, with off-the-charts stress, traumatic to the core. The shattering diagnosis can reduce one to rubble, being so very powerless over the invasion; this malevolent intruder. I initially withdrew from friends and family, wanting to hide my fears and insecurity; consequently I experienced isolated misery needlessly.
I chose hiking as my solitary “get away”. I’ve never been a “physical type/athletic person” so this was quite the new challenge for me. I seem to be drawn to challenges apparently. As I struggled physically during my initial hikes, I began to recognize the relationship between the fight to climb the higher elevations with my fight to rid my body of the cancer. I needed to integrate skills to assist me in changing my body into a more efficient machine (which also allowed me to enjoy my time more fully). As I strengthened and set myself into motion, my mental outlook changed dramatically. By taking risks and seeking limited solitude, and as I conquered mountains, valleys, the blunders, falls, and fears, I began to realize that I could conquer this threat to my life as well.
I was strengthening externally and internally. During silent times at a picturesque vista, or as I struggled for strength and arthritic joint mobility and range of motion while scrambling over steep rocks, I appreciated the Lord, the completeness of Him and recognized my absolute, desperate need for Him.
My eyes were opened to the fact that due to my unyielding independence, I was not dependent upon the One Who could ultimately help me. Once I grasped the importance of changing this void, and prayed for help with the second, separate cancer diagnosis, He did indeed help me! We climbed that slippery slope together; I came out victorious, He got the glory. What a terrific blend.
The wilderness helped expose my frailties. When I fell off the side of the mountain, or when I inadvertently stood on a coiled (and positively angry) potentially lethal rattle snake, all the skill sets in the world couldn’t ultimately save me. But crying out to God did save me, and most dramatically. Whether I was battling cancer, a psycho snake, or a raging black bear, it still boiled down to a need for something or rather Someone with greater power and ability beyond the natural realm. My trust needed to be in, and remains in Him. He doesn’t want us to fight our battles alone. The techniques of surgery or drugs could not fight my cancer battle to completion. A faith-infused prayer did and through Him, I more than survived. I found new meaning and purpose in living and expanded my relationship with God to a vital, living and loving one; so much more real. No matter how much training one can have, (including medical training) it all boils down to dependence upon God.
Whether your “Survival Skills” are enduring chemo, wilderness exploring, stress management on the job, or just getting yourself up out of bed today to brave your individual battlefield, they are all excellent accomplishments. But until we broaden the parameters of those techniques with faith in God, they’re just techniques with limitations.