Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Preparing For the Tough Times

By Karen O'Neill Velasquez

What happens when a newly married woman is diagnosed with terminal cancer and only six months to live? Read on for an inspirational testimony…

He quietly opened the bedroom door, thinking I was asleep. I wasn’t. I hadn’t slept in days. My mind was consumed with the news I had gotten. Sleep just wasn’t coming. I rolled over to look at my husband and he said, “When are you going to get out of bed?”

I didn’t answer. Didn’t it go without saying? Newly diagnosed terminal cancer patients are allowed to stay in bed for hours on end crying. People should understand that. I didn’t appreciate the question.

Noticing my silence, he quietly repeated, “You really should try to get out of bed.”

I threw off the covers and stomped to the bathroom and promptly slammed the door shut to accentuate my point. I was angry and I wanted him to know it.

From the other side of the bathroom door I heard his gentle voice. “Honey, let’s go out and get a pizza or something. You really do need to eat.”

My husband’s voice has that Southern charm that softens everything he says. His tone is like a caress, and I could feel it breaking through my bitterness and anger. As I pretended not to hear him above the shower, I realized he had succeeded in reaching me. I couldn’t resist him. He had gotten me out of bed. For the first time in days, I was thinking about something other than cancer. I was thinking about my family and food and how very hungry I was. He had used Southern charm and pizza to get the best of me.

I stared at my reflection in the mirror. As I put on my make-up and fixed my hair, I realized that I looked just like every other healthy woman in the world. No one around me would know about my cancer unless I chose to dwell on it. My husband was telling me I had to get on with life. I should not let cancer defeat me. I knew in that moment that I could get through this ordeal with the strength of God and my husband behind me.

That evening I realized how blessed I was to have this special man by my side. We were just two weeks home from our honeymoon when we stood in a doctor’s office and listened to him tell us that I had stage IV cancer and had only six months left to live. I had melanoma, one of the most untreatable cancers. Traditional medicine had nothing to offer us. My sweet husband went from being a thirty six year old bachelor who had never lived with a woman to a new husband with a dying wife. Yet, somehow he seemed to know just what to say and do during this painful time in our lives. He didn’t read self help books and he didn’t own any marriage guides. He relied exclusively on his faith in God and drew on the Biblical wisdom he learned through the many hours he spent alone with God’s word.

Looking back, Jay’s strength in this crisis should not have surprised me. While we were dating, I saw him regularly cultivating his relationship with the Lord. All through our courtship he had his nose in his Bible, worn out and dog-eared from years of faithful study. He started each day in the same way, by praying and reading God’s word. God blessed Jay with a rare wisdom that comes from knowing Jesus in a very personal way. He lived what he believed and modeled his behavior on Jesus. “Why panic?” he asked me. “God is in charge.” He conveyed that peace to me and it became contagious. So, as a family, we decided to stay alive. And we have.

“All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work,” 2 Timothy 3:16 NIV

God regularly uses common people to accomplish great things. My husband was and still is used by God to bring me comfort and encouragement at a time of great need. Jay had no experience with marriage or cancer. Yet through many hours of Bible study and prayer, the Lord prepared him in advance for any crisis that might come. He gave Jay the skills to survive and the godly wisdom to help me through one of the most difficult times in my life.

When the struggle is staring you in the face, when the darkness is threatening to overtake you, this is the moment that the years of Bible study and prayer will cover you with wisdom like a warm blanket on a cold winter night. Thankfully, God gave me a husband who has chosen the path to godly wisdom.

Editor’s note: Praise report: In October, 2007 Karen celebrated 11years as a cancer survivor. “God has been good to me, ” she says. Thank you Lord!


Jim said...

Praise the Lord, He is Wonderful! Thank you for the inspiring story - I really needed that at this trying time in my life.
God Bless You, and Thank You!

Pennie said...

I needed to read this story today. My 22 year old son Daniel has been fighting for his life since he was 19 years old. He has advanced colon cancer and we were told this past week that the cancer has spread more advanced. There is no earthly cure but we know Our Father in heaven is in control. Please pray for Daniel to be healed and lift our family up in prayer.