Sad faces and wicked scars—that’s what probably comes to mind when you hear the words ‘breast cancer’. But Salvationist Cara Reddish says her experience ‘is more like happy faces and faint scars’.
When I was younger, I listened to testimonies on the radio a lot. Most of them were from people who had something terrible happen to them. The event had changed them—with God’s help—into amazing people of God. As a result, I swung from wanting to have something bad happen to me so I could be transformed, to being scared that something bad would happen to me!
But I realised that I could put things in place in my life that would eventually make me a good woman of God—without the need for a disaster in my life. I worked to develop habits that included spending time with God in prayer and reading the Bible, listening to Christian music and teachings (mostly on Rhema), attending church and being part of a small group.
At the age of 42, I was prompted to get a mammogram (suggested by my lovely doctor and taken up because of a niggling thought). When a cancer was found, I thought, ‘Oh wow, after all these years something terrible has happened!’ It was terrible because, while I’m keen for hanging out with Jesus and eternal rest, I would miss my family.
My brush with cancer was quite a journey—and still will be for the next few years as I have an increased risk of getting it again—but I felt supported. Through scans, biopsies, waiting, diagnosis, surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, I know lots of people were praying for us and that was amazing!
Maybe more important were the habits that kept me within easy reach of God—and God was able to use those habits to strengthen, comfort, correct, heal, counsel and bless me during this time.
For example, as I was driving for the first time to a treatment which required me to hold air in my lungs, the song ‘Great are you Lord’ played on the radio. The words were, ‘It’s your breath in my lungs’ …
I was chastised for my pride and selfishness, refusing help, when I saw that my kids were taking notice of how our church family supported us with gifts, meals and taking on some of my responsibilities.
When I was at a prayer meeting, but not able to tell people yet, it came to me that as Jesus was on his way to heal the people we were praying for, I could ‘touch his cloak’. That night, my reading happened to be Mark 5, where the woman was healed as Jesus was on his way to Jairus’ daughter—a confirmation! And there were so many more examples of God’s presence!
Slow and steady transformation by God through spiritual disciplines, and little God moments, is just as valid as amazing ‘wham’ encounters—and possibly more sustainable, especially through tough and desert times.
So, if you are a woman in your forties, know your body and go have a mammogram. Most of all, make sure you are in the habit of being within easy reach of God and he will use those opportunities to bless you!
Breast Cancer Awareness Month is coming up in October. Show your support—and if you’re a woman over 40, book in for a mammogram.
By Cara Reddish (c) 'War Cry' magazine, 21 September 2019 p11. You can read 'War Cry' at your nearest Salvation Army church or centre, or subscribe through Salvationist Resources.