by BECKY TAYLOR
When Marilyn first approached me about writing this article for her magazine, I gasped and kind of laughed.You see, I am no writer; I am a talker. So I guess you can call this a conversation on paper. Ironically, because I am NOT a writer, as I sat down to begin typing, I prayed, “God please give me YOUR words, not my own, and thank you for giving me a story to tell.” Thanking God for my story comes as a shock even to me, but 1 Thessalonians 5:18 tells us, “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Jesus Christ.”
Thanking Him in ALL circumstances is the kicker here. In August 2010, I was diagnosed with Stage 4 brain cancer called glioblastoma–the deadliest of its kind. I was referred to MD Anderson–to see the “wizards,” as I lovingly refer to my doctors there–where I was scheduled for brain surgery to remove the largest of my three tumors. I was also told I would be awake for a large part of my surgery in order to assist the surgeons with my motor skill functioning. Psalms 46:10 suddenly became my anthem verse, “Be still and know that I am God.” My immediate thought was, “I will be still, and God, you just be You!” We both did well! A successful surgery was followed by 12 weeks of radiation and a scheduled full year of chemotherapy. We would have to leave our children, family, and friends and relocate to Houston for the next phase of my treatment. This was the hardest part by far. I leaned heavily on 2 Corinthians 5:7, “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” I could not “see” where God was leading me, but I had great faith that HE would “walk” me through it. We came home two days before Christmas that year, and being home was the best Christmas present ever, even though we knew we had to go back to Houston after Christmas.
This was a very trying time for our entire family. We had one child in college, one senior in high school and one eighth grader–hard ages to be so far away. My husband, Jeff, became my rock, my strength, and an even better friend than he was before. He has always been our leader and “calm-in-the-storm” kind of guy. This, however, was different. He became my protector, comforter, tour guide, and, most importantly, my information booth. He can walk every inch of MD Anderson with his eyes closed and never get lost. I still can’t find the front door. Eventually, we settled into our new surroundings and tried to make the best of our “situation.” Still, we missed home. My future was uncertain, and at times I was afraid. Luckily, with Jeff’s help and God’s help, most of my days during radiation treatment were joyful and happy. Remember the verse I mentioned earlier, 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “Be joyful always and pray continually.” The praying part we had no trouble with, but we chose the joyful part. God gives us free will to make our own decisions and choices in almost every aspect of our life. My circumstances from a bird’s-eye view, if you will, may have looked bleak—if I chose to look at them that way. Therefore, my choice was to lean on God to help me through each and every day. I prayed to be a beacon of light for Him, that people would see the blessings and comfort He had shown to me and my family, and that they would be made aware of His love, graciousness, and power. God had used me in an incredible way to show His mercy and faithfulness. I was taught a new appreciation for each and every day, and I prayed that my will for my life would be aligned with God’s will for my life. I was filled with joy for Jesus and wanted to become an example for anyone dealing with “situations.” Soon, I would learn the truth of these familiar words—be careful what you wish for!
In August 2012, almost two years to the day of my brain cancer diagnosis, I was told I had breast cancer during a routine yearly mammogram (get those mammograms, ladies!!). Soon a mastectomy was scheduled, and as you are reading this, I have most likely completed two sessions of treatment during my six-month regimen of chemotherapy. And God is still the tower of strength and remains at my side. I must admit there have been times of “REALLY?” and “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?” Those are the times I envision God smiling down at me and saying, “Yep, really, now let’s get to work, girl. I have plans for you and I won’t be needing your help. I have this covered.” He confirms this, “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to proper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).
Jeff and I continue to travel to MD Anderson every eight weeks indefinitely for repeat MRIs of my brain. The “wizards” maintain that this type of cancer has a history of returning; therefore, they want to keep a close eye on it, for which I am grateful. However, I am most grateful, regardless of the circumstances, to my Great Physician, for HE is actually calling all the shots!
My path at times has not been easy, but I still choose JOY. It is so much more fun than sorrow and dread, and it is so much more contagious. In reality, none of us can predict our futures, so don’t waste time trying to plot and plan or get caught up in the “what if’s.” Choose to be JOYFUL! It’s an attitude thing, a heart thing––and totally a God thing!
JOY to the World, The Lord has come. May this be your most joyful Christmas ever!!
Becky Taylor lives in Madison and attends Broadmoor Baptist Church. You can follow Becky on Caring Bridge under beckyataylor.