In one of the cruelest ironies in the world of cancer treatment there are times when chemo treatments for cancer can cure one cancer but set the stage for another cancer to invade the same body. Such was the case last week as I met a patient on the bone marrow transplant unit. She had successfully undergone chemo for her breast cancer. Unfortunately the end result of these treatments was that they also led to her now being diagnosed with Leukemia. In spite of this she was determined to endure a bone marrow transplant and continue to live the life she had come to cherish.
What enables a person like this woman to display such strength and endurance? As I listened to this woman tell her story of immigrating to America as a young woman from the Philipine Islands, of how she sent back money to her family to keep them alive, of how she paid for all of her siblings to come to this country and get educated and become doctors and engineers, of how she herself became an educator and school administrator, of how she overcame divorce and widowhood to keep her family together, I began to see this was no ordinary person. I had to laugh at the end of our conversation when she said to me, “I am a feisty woman.” I was thinking to myself, “No kidding. You didn’t have to tell me something I had already become aware of.”
It made me think of Paul’s words in II Cor. 6:9 where he says, “dying and yet we live on, beaten and yet not killed.” Over and over this woman was telling me about things in her life that almost killed her body and her spirit and yet she was able to go on. Paul expresses that same thought in his words. The spirit of God, the love of God, and the power of God was evident in him and in the lady in that hospital room as I sat with her.
What almost kills us is also what helps us to see what matters in our lives. It helps us to see what gives our lives meaning and purpose. It allows us to endure great suffering and overcome tremendous adversity.
What is killing you right now? What is causing you to lose sleep and shed tears and experience deep heart ache? May this woman and the apostle Paul inspire you to keep going and not give up. May you too believe that what is almost killing you can instead be a case of “dying and yet we live on”.