And I would love for you to meet my friend, Nancy, a 10-year survivor of incurable liver cancer. My Cancer Prayer Support Group meetings always were better when she was there—partly because she’s a wonderful baker (she brought four fresh strawberry pies to one summer meeting!), but mostly because she’s just an awesome person.
Nancy originally was told in January 2005 that she had a “very aggressive” liver cancer and there wasn’t anything anyone could do for her.
“If you have anything you want to do, you should do it,” the doctor told her, adding that she would probably die within a month.
But about two weeks later, she got a call from another physician who said she had been misdiagnosed. It indeed was a rare, untreatable liver cancer, but a slow-growing one, which probably would not take her life.
With that good news, Nancy figured the hard part of her cancer journey was over, but she was very wrong. One of her doctors suggested a new, oral chemotherapy, which just might slow the cancer’s growth and Nancy agreed to give it a try. Unfortunately, one of the drug’s side effects was severe depression.
“When I would wake up in the morning, I thought I couldn’t get out of bed,” Nancy recalls. “Any desire to do anything at all was gone. I would just sit and cry.”
Nancy, of course, stopped the drug, but the depression lasted for eighteen months.
“I felt terribly alone even in a roomful of people,” she recalls. “It was the most horrible feeling I ever had.”
I’ve never experienced that kind of depression, but I believe Nancy when she says it was “worse than being told I had cancer or that I was going to die.”
So why am I telling you this story in a blog about encouragement for the weary? Because Nancy got through her depression and is back to her bubbly self and I want you to know that you and your loved one can survive depression if it should rear its ugly head in your lives.
Whenever a newcomer joined our support group and was struggling with depression, I wanted that person to meet Nancy because she’s “been there, done that.” And most of all I wanted them to hear what Nancy discovered during her ordeal.
“I learned that God is faithful,” she says. “I always believed that, but not to the extent I do now.
“Even though I couldn’t feel close to God then, I always sensed He was there,” she says. “When I prayed to die in my sleep, the Holy Spirit was there with me whispering ‘it’s going to be OK—it’s not over yet.’ God was always there.”
I will give you treasures hidden in darkness—secret riches. I will do this so you may know that I am the Lord God of Israel, the one who calls you by name. Isaiah 45:3
Nancy’s path is not one she ever would have chosen for herself, but she wholeheartedly agrees that the Lord gave her treasures that were hidden in the darkness of depression. Now she eagerly shares those “secret riches” with those she meets who are struggling with their own despondent times.
“When I was down, just a teeny bit of hope helped me,” Nancy remembers. “If I can give that to anyone, I’d be happy.”
I always feel more hopeful when I talk to Nancy as the love and light of God shine through her. She and her incredibly supportive husband Tom recently celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary by taking a trip to Belize—not as relaxing tourists, but to work at the orphanage they helped build.
“I just want to give back,” Nancy explains. “I think that’s why God left me here.”
Father, I pray for anyone reading this today who is struggling with depression or any other dark cloud of discouragement. I pray that they will trust that You are faithful and will see them through. And I pray that one day they can look back and see the treasures You have brought to light through this time. In Jesus Name. Amen.