This article was written by the author — my mother — shortly before her death from cancer in 1970.
By Gwen Ford
“This lump will have to come out,” the doctor said kindly. My mind raced. “This little lump?” I thought. “Why, it’s not much bigger than a pea, and I feel so well, Surely there can be nothing wrong.” The doctor continued, “If it is malignant, the whole breast will have to come off.”
I walked from the doctor’s office stunned. Next came breaking the news to my husband, and later still to tell our eight-year-old daughter and six-year-old son of my need to go to hospital.
The lump proved malignant. Was God taken by surprise? Was this affliction just my luck, something over which God, the God of the sparrows, had no control?
During my hospitalization the fact that I had or had had cancer could not make me dismal for more than a moment, so close and real was the presence of Christ. Instead my life seemed filled with blessings. I left the hospital rejoicing, never doubting that cancer for me was finished forever
But then, two and a half years later came vomiting—consistent and persistent and uncontrollable. There were hospital tests, plenty of them, and then, after weeks, the verdict. It was bone cancer, in the ribs and hips and spine. There was no known cure. My husband broke the news to me through a Bible reading which was used of the Spirit of God to take away shock and fear.
Two years have come and gone since then, and I would not care to contemplate the details of that time. It is like looking back upon a nightmare. There have been months of hospitalization, months upon months of separation from husband and family as several nursing friends in distant places endeavoured to bring me back to health. Mostly it has meant confinement to bed, inability to walk, pain, innumerable vomitings, and consequent reduction to virtually a skeleton. Several times death seemed certain.
Had God forsaken me? No, I could truly say He was a God “who comforteth us in all our tribulations.” Had not His own beloved Son gone through agony worse than mine, and the Father had suffered with the Son—“God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself”? I knew that God was not unmindful of my plight. His life, His presence, His strength brought comfort in the valley of the shadow. The prayers offered by my bedside, especially when I was too ill to pray myself, and the consciousness of other prayers by friends and loved ones then distant, brought comfort and assurance. How precious the promises of His Word when all else is unavailing!
The Lord’s presence and the promises from His Word can buoy us up and help us through experiences which otherwise we would not be able to endure. My husband and I were sustained by these leaves from the tree of life through innumerable crises.
Such an experience as has befallen me need not be all loss….In health, we are so prone to rely upon ourselves and our own powers to achieve and not to realize how useless our human efforts really are without God. Stripped of my ability to walk and work, I am constantly thrown upon the divine power.
When my death comes, it will not be a tragedy—a cutting off, an untimely event—but a full fruition of the Lord’s plan for my life.
Life can still be full of challenge and interest even for the invalid. Resources before untapped are now opened up. With so much apparently gone, I appreciate better and find how very much more is really left. What would I exchange for sight and the ability to think and talk? The family takes on a new preciousness after all the separation. A sunny morning, the scenes of nature, all mean more to me now.
When illness came, I found friends springing up everywhere. Their prayers and kindnesses brought cheer and comfort to the sickbed. If family and friends could be so kind, how much more our heavenly Father whose goodness we so faintly mirror?
What then of the future? Medically speaking, the bone cancer is expected to spread until finally the liver or lungs are affected, and the end is thus hastened. If this is the Lord’s will for me, I can await it without dread and say, “Ebenezer….Hitherto hath the Lord helped” me.
I fully believe the Lord will use this sickness for His glory, and that through it He will cause more good than could be accomplished by a lifetime of labour. “We are a theatre unto men and to angels.” And again, “All these things happened unto them for ensamples.”
The Lord has sustained me in a wonderful way, and I know now that His grace is sufficient for our every trial—so much so that from the time (over two years ago as I write this) that I knew I had secondary inoperable cancer (a terminal case) all concern of it has been lifted from me. The fact that I have cancer has not caused me the least shudder nor even made me think on it for more than two minutes at a time.
The prayers of God’s people, while not effecting a miracle of healing, have done something much greater—they have kept me in perfect peace, and through God’s grace I have been able to bear much suffering.
I feel very awed, grateful, and rich when I consider what the Lord has done for me. The Lord has given me this message and a wonderful husband and turned my life into a heaven. END—The Australian Record, January, 1972, p. 25