When they told me it was cancer, I didn’t flinch.
Maybe it was denial. Maybe it was the anesthesia drugs still coursing through my veins, fogging my brain. Or perhaps the Lord’s peace descended just when I needed it. Regardless, when the doctor explained how the tumor they’d found was either cancer or lymphoma, I hardly reacted.
I didn’t break down. Not then.
Your tears may have flowed immediately, the what-ifs of your midnight worry sessions suddenly morphing into reality. Or maybe you slowly folded into yourself like a deflating bouncy castle. Perhaps you gasped, your hand racing to stifle the eruption of a primeval wail, before gathering yourself to pepper your doctor with a million questions. Or maybe your diagnosis was so unexpected you simply sat, dazed and stunned in shocked silence.
However you reacted—and please know there’s no right or wrong way—the truth is, cancer stinks.
3 Things To Remember When You’ve Been Diagnosed
My diagnosis came a mere six weeks after I lost my sister to cancer—and just six years after I lost my mom. I felt like it was my turn. So I understand. As I fought through chemo, radiation, surgery, more chemo, and enough scans and blood work to keep a fully staffed lab in overtime, I needed to hear a few key things every day, sometimes every minute. Now I say them to you.
GOD IS GOOD AND HE LIKES YOU
Firstly, though it might seem obvious: God is good and he likes you. He’s 100 percent for you 100 percent of the time. When cancer rips our world apart, it’s easy to think he’s mad or punishing us, but that simply isn’t true. If we fully understood the enormity of his love, it would blow our minds. So remember, no matter what cancer throws at you, you are loved—passionately and unconditionally.
HE HASN’T LEFT YOU
Second, God hasn’t left you. He isn’t off helping someone more “deserving,” like the missionary couple you support in Thailand, or Janice at church who leads Bible studies and didn’t sleep around in college. Regardless of whether you can see him, feel him, or hear him, God is with you and isn’t going anywhere. Saint Augustine’s testimony is true for you too: “God is nearer to me than I am to myself.”
THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS A BAD PRAYER
Lastly, please don’t get in a tizzy about the hows, whens, wheres and whats of prayer. It’s a myth that “proper” prayers are eloquent, bursting with scriptural references, and uttered in profound faith. Yes, those prayers are great, but don’t let your fear of not praying perfectly, having no idea what to say, or your need to simply scream and question God, kill your relationship with God. He’s always listening and loves it when we come to him, however imperfectly, so the only wasted or “wrong” prayer is the one we don’t pray. Whether it’s you or someone you love that’s been diagnosed, let’s pray by keeping it simple, keeping it real, and keeping it going.
Chemo-brain is real my friend, so if you’re struggling to remember what day of the week it is or what you had for dinner last night, take a moment to write these three things down. Post them on the fridge, pop them in your bible, or ask someone close to you to remind you of them when you next have a low moment. Then repeat them on the daily.
- God is nice and he loves me.
- He’s not angry and hasn’t left me.
- There’s no such thing as a bad prayer, so I’ll keep it simple, keep it real, and keep it going.
Tell me, what else do you need reminding of today?
Niki Hardy is an author, speaker, podcast host, and cancer thriver. Through her books, including Breathe Again: How to Live Well When Life Falls Apart, her podcast, Chemo Chair Prayers, and her Trusting God Through Cancer Summit, Niki helps you discover that life doesn’t have to be pain-free to be full. She and her husband, Al, have three almost grown-up kids and two lovely but rather stupid Goldendoodles. When she’s not writing or speaking, you can find Niki running trails with her dogs or having tea with a friend.
You can connect with Niki at nikihardy.com
Niki’s new book, One-Minute Prayers for Women With Cancer is out now. With wisdom, insight, empathy, and yes, a little humor, Niki helps you transform fear into faith and navigate the ups and downs of your cancer journey. You can experience God’s peace and provision during this challenging time.