“God was using my hurt to heal others!”

When I met Bre Valenzuela last summer in San Diego at the Bob Goff retreat for cancer survivors, one thing was clear: she exuded joy…in spite of her circumstances.

In the fall of 2022, life had been good for Bre.

She was less than a month from celebrating her 29th birthday and the birth of her first child.  She was happily married since 2017 to husband Cody, whom she met while working at Disneyland.  Together they attended a great church where she was a worship leader, sharing the gift of her beautiful alto voice.

But then she found the lump.

It was a large one on the side of her neck, so she headed to urgent care, which sent her to the ER.  The doctor there told her she had Hodgkin lymphoma (despite the fact there was no tissue sample to diagnosis), but the oncologist she saw next thought it might be simply an infection. When tests ruled out an infection,  doctors decided to induce her at 39 weeks and get a biopsy right after the delivery.

A healthy baby boy named Jace arrived…along with a diagnosis of Stage 3 Hodgkin lymphoma and plans for chemotherapy.

“They let me be a mom for a week,” Bre recalls. ” I was allowed to breastfeed for a week and then I wasn’t allowed.”

Immediately Bre simultaneously began two ernormous tasks : fighting a life-threatening illness and raising a new, little life in her arms.

Worship team members shaved her head!

It was her faith in Jesus–which she “found” in 2019–that saw her through those really tough months.

“Faith showed up in a million ways!” she explains. “People from church would come over and just hold Jace for an hour so I could nap. They brought meals and went to chemo treatments with me so Cody could stay with Jace.”

When I asked Bre in our recent phone conversation how it felt to be a young, new mom facing cancer, she replied : “I had a sadness because I definitely want to see Jace grow up…but I realized I had to surrender all of it (to God) even if the outcome didn’t turn out to be what I wanted.”

It was while singing worship music that she experienced peaceful surrender.

“In the realm of worship, I felt perfectly held by God,” she recalls.

One of the most amazing ways that God showed up for Bre came through some advice given by a mentor-friend , who also is a cancer survivor.

“She said I should view my chemo chair as ‘holy ground’,” Bre remembers. “That seemed really strange, but she said it was the ground where God was sending people to heal me.”

At one point during her 12-treatment protocol, she was hospitalized for a week with a life-threatening sepsis infection.  Soon her hospital room also became holy ground.

“I ended up having four different nurses come in to my room to have me pray with them,” she says. “One even said she switched her shift so she could be with me.

Now God was using my hurt to heal others.”

Life is good for Bre–follow-up tests show her to be cancer-free and she’s looking forward to her 30th birthday in October.

When she reflects on 2023, she says: “I didn’t know they made years this hard or this rewarding. Cheers to living life open-handed and finding joy even in the darkest of moments!”

Amen, my beautiful, joyful friend.

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.
For you know when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 
James 1:2-3

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Please open in your browser to hear the great song “See You Through It” by Brandon Heath. The words speak of trials, and yet the music and whimsical video are full of JOY–just like my friend Bre. (I think the lyrics are clear, but if you want to read them, here’s a link see me through it lyrics.

 

 

 

4 comments

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    • Darlene on March 6, 2024 at 9:22 AM
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    Very beautiful story.. thanks for sharing.

      • Lynn on March 13, 2024 at 11:07 AM
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      Hi Darlene,
      Thank you so much for taking time to read and comment. Many blessings on you as you continue to “truck” for God!

      Lynn

    • Marcy Nichols on March 17, 2024 at 9:57 PM
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    Absolutely a testimony of hope and perseverance….Thank you for sharing….

    1. Hi Marcy,
      Yes it is and Bre is incredible! Thanks for being in touch!
      Love ya,
      Lynn

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