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YOU HAVE CANCER-SO NOW WHAT?

You have cancer. . . now what? Everyone has advice. Eat more of this or less of that. Take chemo—it’ll save you. Don’t take chemo—it’ll kill you. My cousin went here for treatment and she was cured. My friend went there and she died. What should you believe? You have many new matters of business to take up, many new questions to ask and considerations to ponder.

Will you have surgery? Over half of all cancer cures result from surgery alone. How about radiation? In many people, it can shrink a tumor to where it can be dealt with more effectively. Chemotherapy? Yes, you’ve heard horror stories about it, but its benefits are unmistakable and can, in fact, be quite remarkable. Chemotherapy is the foundation of treatment for many, many cancer patients.

All these treatments, especially chemotherapy, are very different from what they were as recently as five years ago. The new drugs are significantly more effective and in many cases much less toxic. And oncologists are able to administer them in a way that minimizes side effects while still obtaining the greatest benefit. Side effects are fewer and less intense than in the past. Radiation is more limited in scope and surgery less invasive.

A major part of your new approach will be to learn all you can about your particular cancer, to listen carefully to the advice of your doctors, to weigh the various possibilities with your family, and--most important--to lay it all out before God. Trust Him to guide you, and give Him complete control.

Don’t worry that you’ll be struggling alone through your treatment. You’ll be amazed at the number of loving, caring people, organizations, and groups that are ready and willing to help.

“When the doctor scheduled me for surgery so quickly, I was terrified,” recalled Justin, a patient with brain cancer. “I didn’t want to do something so drastic without first doing a little research, and certainly not before talking it over with my family. Yet I could just see that tumor growing by the second!”

Justin, stunned and confused, asked the doctor straight out if the surgery had to be done so quickly. Immediately the doctor slowed down the schedule and assured him that a few days would make no difference at all.


If at all possible, slow down your decision-making. Sure, you feel a sense of urgency to decide what you’re going to have done and who’s going to be involved in doing it. You may also be eager to look into the pros and cons of herbal supplements and vitamins, alternative treatments, and your diet in general. Determine which decisions have to be made immediately and which ones can wait awhile. Act immediately and decisively where you need to; then slow down and gather information and support where you can afford to move more slowly.

Whatever the urgency, don’t allow yourself to be frightened or pressured into making decisions about your treatment until you’re sure you have a clear understanding of your choices. Ask about and explore the options. Take time to pray and wait upon the Lord. Search the scriptures. In many cases, if you back off a bit, you’ll not only be able to make better decisions, but you’ll also have much greater peace of mind.


A major step toward achieving a positive revised approach is to get over your desire to keep your diagnosis a secret. Once you conquer this, you’ll be surprised at how much support and positive feedback you will get. Ken, a survivor of prostate cancer, is an energetic supporter of moving past the secrecy. “Once I was open about my cancer, I started getting a steady stream of E-mails. And as I progressed through the various stages, I sent updates to my family, friends, and colleagues. It was so great to know I wasn’t alone. The feedback was critical to helping me maintain a positive attitude, and I’m convinced that maintaining a positive attitude is vitally important when you’re facing surgery.”

Also, by being open about where he was, Ken discovered people he knew who had faced the same situation. By sharing their stories, they offered a special kind of support and provided him with information that helped ease his fears and offered him concrete guidance.



Today Ken says exactly the same thing he so often said in his E-mail messages: “I’m truly blessed to have such loving, supportive friends. And should I need any additional support in the future, I know without a doubt they’re still there.”

Jeremy Geffen, M.D., in his book The Journey Through Cancer  wrote, “I’ve found that the true miracles of cancer rarely take the form of drugs, potions, or herbs. More often than not, the true miracles take place in the minds, hearts, and spirits of patients and their families.”2

I’m sure that to some degree that’s true of all cancer patients, but for Christians it’s absolutely central. It’s the miracles that heal, and it’s the miracles that bring us in line with the mind of Christ.

Consider Jesus’ example. When facing the Cross, He prayed, Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done (Luke 22:42). Christ was facing something He could not change and still remained true to the redemptive purpose of God the Father. There was no other way. He simply had to endure the horror of the Cross.

It’s when we have no choice but to endure that we need to cling tightly to Heb. 4:16 and to hold it close to our hearts: Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.


It’s this mercy and grace that will help us endure the roller coaster of emotions that’s sure to hit.

This article is excerpted from the book The Cancer Survival Guide by Kay Marshall Strom, published by Beacon Hill Press, 2002.

I have never been told that I have cancer but I known how your love ones feels when you are told that you have cancer. Over 40 years ago my wife's Dad died (before we were married) from a heart attack but was dieing from stomach cancer also. Then my father who refused to take the test for cancer died from a heart attack, but we all believe that he had stomach cancer, Then my step father died from bone cancer, My mother-in-law also died a few years ago from colon cancer. My mother who had colon cancer several years ago but made it when her cancer was far worse than my mother-in-law who did't make it. My mother turned 91 in March of 2010.

Why some people win the battle against cancer and some don't, only God knows, all we can do is  support and pray for those who are going threw the battle.