By Alice Wang
Hi Church Family!
I think we all agree that so far 2020 has been a crazy year with this pandemic changing daily lives. For me even more crazy when right before the shelter-in-place, I was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer. Since then I have had chemotherapy treatments to shrink the tumor and two weeks ago surgery to remove my tumor. And today I feel very blessed to be able to share with you how I have seen God working through this experience.
When I was diagnosed I knew immediately that I would want to return to Texas for treatment where I could have support from my family. It would be WAY more comfortable to recover at my Mom’s house instead of being cramped in my one-bedroom apartment in California. And I am very blessed that my company gave me full support. I got the first opinion on treatment in California – Stage 1, surgery only. Somehow though God continued to prompt me about going back to Texas for the second opinion. Even though I did not have a surgeon in Texas, God was providing one for me. My mom was at church and it was during the communal prayer time which she normally doesn’t feel comfortable to do. That day she shared with her seat neighbor a stranger about my diagnosis and turns out the young man highly recommended a breast surgeon because his wife went through breast cancer a few years earlier. Then, a few weeks later her BSF group member also highly recommended the same breast surgeon and even later another sister from the church had mentioned the same surgeon with high recommendation even pointing out her strong faith. So it really felt like God’s confirmation to come to Texas for the surgery.
In Texas, they looked at my case was Stage 2, and recommended a more aggressive treatment of chemotherapy before surgery. So that meant originally a 6 week stay in Texas would turn into more than 6 months. It was very tough to hear that because I knew it would be a difficult road ahead. Because I knew God wanted me to be in Texas, I accepted the more aggressive route and after a few tears I remember saying to the oncologist, “OK, Let’s do this”.
One of the things I feel is a blessing was to be in Texas together with my mom. If I had not gotten cancer then I would be shutdown in my apartment all by myself and she would be alone in her house. We would have been worried about each other the whole time. God timing made it so that we could be together during this pandemic. She has something to do every day (cooking for me), I got to eat her delicious cooking every day! For a few years I had been praying if God wanted me to spend more time with my mom since she is getting older and I felt that God would eventually bring me back to Texas but because my job was in California I didn’t see a path to do so. Due to the shelter-in-place my company realized that working remotely was an option and it was OK for employees to work from home for the long term. I felt God opening the door for me to stay in Texas permanently.
I feel so thankful during the pandemic everything went virtual including church so that I can still fellowship with the New Vine family during our weekly table talk. You all came along with me on this tough journey and I felt bathed in prayer every step of the way. Every few days someone would check on me and I felt very cared for. Some New Viners helped me to move out of my apartment and send my belongings to Texas since would not be able to travel. I want to thank God for your constant encouragement and cheerleading!
I am also thankful for the Empower classes and retreat in January. The retreat happened in the middle of my diagnosis – I was pretty sure I had cancer but was waiting for test results to confirm it. I really did not want to attend the retreat – I wanted to stay home and hide away from people. But I am very grateful for God’s leading to attend. At the retreat God spoke to me two truths. First I realized that I did not have to be ashamed of being sick. Cancer has such a stigma and especially for Asian cultures being sick can be shameful and something to hide. During the retreat I decided to be open and transparent about my cancer, the treatment, and not try to hide it. This has given me a lot of freedom. Secondly I got to talk with Lisa Plunket who was one of the speakers at the Empower retreat. Earlier in the fall she spoke candidly about her cancer which she battled the year prior and I remember being impressed with her openness to talk about having cancer. At the retreat I got the courage to approach her and it was very encouraging to talk to someone who has gone through cancer and beat it. She shared with me Psalm 23 which is the Bible passage that got her through her cancer. From her I learned that only God can make me 100% healthy after cancer than before cancer. Those words gave me the hope from God in his ultimate healing.
Last Friday I went to the oncologist who based on my pathology report says I am in remission – meaning there is no detectable cancer in my body. I will still be taking hormone treatment to prevent recurrence and be under my oncologist’s watchful eye for 5-10 years. I will also start some physical therapy and exercises to get back to feeling 100% after the surgery. I am still processing the emotions and feelings after finishing chemo and surgery and being a breast cancer survivor. Cancer changes the way you look at life, but overall I am thankful to God for what He has done.
The Lord Is My Shepherd
A Psalm of David.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
3 He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.