Putting Faith Into Action

Having moved back to Lagos from London, I had to live with my father and his wife till I saved up enough money to get a place of my own or at least get married and start a family of my own. I knew she didn’t like me for reasons unknown to me but we were civil at least. For my father’s sake, I always gave her the respect due. For the last few years I felt unsafe. No one physically or verbally attacked me but that feeling was strong.

2015 marked the 25th remembrance of my mother. With the consent of my father, I planned a celebration of life and invited close friends and family who knew her then. I noticed by father’s wife was unhappy about this but she had perfected the art of masking her resentment with a smile. My father confirmed my suspicion. A few weeks later after the ceremony, I felt a hard lump under my arm and went to see the doctor. He ran some tests, which were inconclusive and wanted me to have a biopsy. I felt more comfortable doing the biopsy in London and told him I would have it done there as I was due to travel in a few days. He spoke to me quite sternly as he pointed to a picture that hung on the wall behind his desk. “you see that photo, that was my wife. She passed away last year because her cancer was not caught in time. Go to London now!” Tears began steaming down. Fear was heightened.

It was August 2015 when my world came to a screeching halt. “I’m sorry it’s not good news. You’ve got stage 3 triple negative breast cancer.” The breast specialist said trying to sound sympathetic and not treat me like all doctors treat patients – like a number. Treatment was a course of 8 cycles of chemotherapy, mastectomy and radiation. Treatment ran for 8 months. I lost every trace of hair on my body. I was constantly tired and lost a lot of weight. I couldn’t recognize myself anymore. My confidence and faith hit rock bottom but my family and friends didn’t let me give up. I kept thinking and asking myself “why me?” And I heard a voice say why not you? What makes you special? At that moment I broke down and began singing the Carrie Underwood’s Jesus take the wheel song, which was playing on my IPAD. Right then, I surrendered all to Him. I meditated on God’s word and these are some verses I used:
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” ~ Romans 12:2

Colossians 1:15-18
[15] The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. [16] For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. [17] He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. [18] And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.

I was given the all clear in July 2016. I was over the moon. So were my family and friends. I went back to Lagos to see my family, friends and colleagues. Not many of them were aware of what I went through and I kept it that way. I’ve always been a private person. Though I felt isolated, I didn’t want a pity party. Cancer had stolen everything from me, health, job, sanity etc I needed to feel normal. If it meant isolating myself and have one or two normal conversations a week that didn’t involve hospital talk, so be it, and so it was.

When I arrived in Lagos I was surprised I felt like a fish out of water. I wasn’t connecting well with people like I did in the past. I felt like I didn’t belong. The situation with my father’s wife didn’t change either. The stress I had there was not worth it. I returned to London. I noticed that feeling of fear hadn’t left.

In March 2017, in preparation for my breast reconstruction, my surgeon ordered a CT scan be done as part of a routine check to ensure all was ok. I prayed and fasted with my sisters for a good result. It wasn’t good news. The scan showed metastatic cancer, which meant it spread to other parts.

I was sent back to oncology to discuss another course of chemotherapy. It was suggested I try immunotherapy, which was a trial treatment at the Royal Marsden. I was put on a wait list, which my oncologist tried to expedite. I had a consultation at Marsden with one of the female doctors and I asked her if it wasn’t too late to freeze my eggs. She told me point blank that she didn’t see the point as I would always require chemo and wouldn’t be able to carry a child. I was shattered. I asked myself what kind of life is this? While I waited to begin treatment the Marsden, I began having swelling on my neck as well as stomach and back pains. It got so bad one evening I had to go to the A and E and was hospitalized for a week at Royal Free. Treatment, which was to begin in 6 weeks at the Marsden, had to be brought forward which meant canceling the immunotherapy and starting conventional chemotherapy at Royal Free. Even though I was panicking I kept a smile on my face. I said to myself, “you beat it once, you can beat it again”

My close friend introduced me to the Bible app, which helped me draw closer to God. Its daily teachings and reading plans helped strengthen my faith in God. Regular meditation and visualisation also helped. I also listened to Joel Osteen, Cindy Trimm, Pastor Onuzo and Pastor Agu’s sermons recordings and streamed their live services online. I even joined the choir at the Catholic Church I attend as part of my service to the Lord. I prayed against that feeling of fear I felt since my stay in Lagos, which still lingered.

One Sunday evening, Pastor Agu paid me a visit so he could pray for me. Before he began, we chatted for a little while and I told him my fears and the persistent mysterious sense of fear I couldn’t shake off. We prayed about it and against every evil and evildoers who sought my downfall and he anointed me with some of the holy oil he brought.

Later on that week, I was told my father’s wife passed away. I was saddened by the news of her passing because I hoped it would have been on better terms. I kept having chemotherapy and had just began cycle 5 out of the 6 cycles I was meant to have. I struggled with continuing the treatment because aside from the fact that I felt I was doing my body more harm that good, something told me to quit the treatment. I spoke to my oncologist about stopping the treatment and to my surprise she didn’t fight me on it as she would have done. She simply said “ok, that’s fine” but asked me to have a CT scan a month later.

I had the CT scan and calmly waited a week for the results, constantly praying for the best outcome as I knew I couldn’t do chemo anymore. My body had simply had enough. Results day came without fail. That morning I prayed with my sister before she left for work and I began reading the Bible. I came across this scripture;

Philippians 4:6-7 NIV
[6] Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. [7] And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Psalm 100:1-5
“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.”

Later that morning and I met with my oncologist and she said to me “ your scans show no trace of cancer in your body” I looked at her stunned and I asked, “there’s nothing?” She responded with a smile “well your organs are in tact we just can’t find the cancer”

Praise the Lord I exclaimed and began to dance and she danced with me. She then said to me “I suppose you were right to stop the chemo” to which I responded, “God is good.”

This road to recovery has taught me that it’s one thing to believe in something. It’s another thing to believe in something so strongly that you have to live it out—letting it determine the way you live. I focused on living a healthy lifestyle and drew close to God.

There will be many things throughout life that will test your faith and pull you in all different directions away from God. Having faith in God is being confident that He loves you, that He cares about your life, and that He’s in control of your future. It’s believing that God is who He says He is and will do what He says He will do.

If you put your faith into action, it will be strengthened. Exercise your faith through thanksgiving in every situation because you know God will never forsake you. Remember, if God is for you who can be against you? In other words, instead of magnifying a problem, magnify God.

Racheal

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