What a cancer diagnosis taught me about my faith in 2022.

At the closing of this year, don’t we all reflect on the past? My thoughts turned to a challenging time I faced during 2022…..and the grace and love of our Lord….who gave me strength and comfort.

Before leaving on a long awaited trip to Washington state during the summer, I made an appointment to evaluate a dark spot I’d noticed on my scalp. My dermatologist said, “I don’t like the look of this.” She did a biopsy and said the results would take a week. Knowing my worrier tendencies, waiting that long would be hard for me. However, my husband and I decided to go ahead with our planned roadtrip, joining our family for a backpacking trek in North Cascades National Park.

Along the five-day drive, I had plenty of time to consider the possible outcomes of the biopsy. Was there really anything to be concerned about? Could the spot just be frozen off? What if it was indeed melanoma?
Before this, I wasn’t quite aware of the seriousness of melanoma cancer. Online research led me down a dark path. Scalp melanomas are the most deadly form of this cancer. Because the mole’s location is obscured by hair and perhaps not visible to an individual, diagnosis is often delayed. Additionally, cancer cells in the head area can spread rapidly. From diagnosis to death can be a short two months.

At first I was quite distraught. Surprisingly to me, it was not because of the possibility of dying. As a Christian, Jesus, my Savior, gave me the gift of eternal life.

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God. ~~ Ephesians 2:8 KJV

However, I was greatly concerned for my loved ones. How would my husband of fifty-one years handle my being gone? Would my grandchildren miss me? Would I even be able to hold my newest grandson who was to be born in a couple of months? I prayed. I prayed continually for the first two days as we drove past the desert landscape of Nevada.

The next day and for the rest of the journey through the mountains of Oregon and Washington, I was filled with peace. (But truthfully, not really joy.) With hope, I would trust His will would be done. Just as the Bible says,

Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost. ~~Romans 15:13 KJV

Right before we arrived to camp with our family, I received a call with the biopsy results. “Good news and bad news,” my doctor said. The bad news: I did have melanoma. The good news: it was very early stage. Since melanomas can be “tricky”, the doctor advised cutting our trip short to have the cancer surgery as soon as possible. Fitting into the surgeon’s schedule, we did a quick backpacking adventure, then headed directly home.

Have I not commanded thee? Be strong and of good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest. ~~Joshua 1:9 KJV

My cancer surgery and later skin graft procedures went well. God gave me the patience to wait calmly until the post surgery test results indicated the tumor was completely removed and no further treatments would be necessary. Our Lord gave me strength through the weeks of healing. My husband took good care of me, while our family and friends supported us both. And with God, we are never alone.

Fortunately, my melanoma was caught early. I’ll adjust to the bald patch and depression on the top of my head and the skin graft scar. I praise God my outcome was a good one. Going forward, I will need to be vigilant to watch for any reoccurrence with complete checks every three months. Since I regularly use sun protection and always wear a hat, I didn’t expect to get a cancer diagnosis. Yes, this can happen to anyone!

NOW FOR MY PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: If you notice any spot that looks unusual, I encourage you to have a skin cancer check…immediately. Please make this a New Year’s resolution!

If…or when….I face more challenges in the future, I pray I remember these important truths:

1. Because of our faith, we don’t need to fear death. Jesus’ sacrifice paid for our eternal life.

2. Prayer gives us peace during difficult trials.

3. God is always with us….with strength, compassion and love.

May your New Year be filled with God-given peace and joy…..even during challenging times! Have a fantastic, fun and faith-filled 2023!

With prayers and blessings,

Sherida

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2 Responses to “What a cancer diagnosis taught me about my faith in 2022.”

  1. Jill Weatherholt Says:

    Praising God that you’re okay, Sherida. I know that must have been a frightening experience. Wishing you and your family a peaceful and healthy 2023. xo

  2. Sherida Stewart Says:

    Thank you, Jill. Collin and I were reflecting today on all our blessings this year….some very good events and only a couple of bumps. I hope your 2023 is filled with lovely moments! ♥️

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