If you’re like me and enjoy hearing stories about people who weren’t “supposed to be here,” please meet my friend, Nancy, a long-time survivor of incurable liver cancer.
In 2005 Nancy was told she had a “very aggressive” liver cancer and there was nothing anyone could do for her.
“If you have anything you want to do, you should do it,” the doctor said, adding that she probably would die within a month.
But about two weeks later, she got a call from another physician who said she had been misdiagnosed. Indeed it was a rare, untreatable liver cancer, but a slow-growing one.
With that good news, Nancy figured the hard part of her cancer journey was over, but she was wrong. One of her doctors suggested a new, oral chemotherapy to perhaps slow the cancer’s growth. Unfortunately, a drug side effect 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 18 months.
“I felt terribly alone even in a roomful of people,” she recalls. “It was the most horrible feeling I ever had–it was worse than being told I had cancer or that I was going to die.”
Now 15 years later, Nancy’s oncologist says that her cancer, “one of the rarest of the rarest,” has “dried up” half her liver, but is not immediately life-threatening .
So why am I telling you this story in a blog about encouragement for the weary? Because Nancy got through her depression and I want you to know that you and your loved ones can survive whatever darkness might rear its ugly head in your lives.
“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.”
O LORD my God, I cried to you for help and you restored my health.
You brought me up from the grave, O LORD.
You kept me from falling into the pit of death.
“I lived on Psalm 30 for all those months,” Nancy recalls. “I have it memorized.”
Since the pandemic hit in 2020 along with some worries for family members, she acknowledges battling depression again and once more turning to pray Psalm 30.
“(The depression) is better than it was and I just know prayer is going to bring me out of it again,” says Nancy, who also sees her family physician, a psychiatrist and a counselor.
“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 just want to give back–I think that’s why God left me here.”
You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing.
You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy,
that I might sing praises to you and not be silent.
O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever!
Be sure to open this blog in your browser to hear the music video “Worn” by Tenth Avenue North.