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Bowel Cancer


Six years ago I was diagnosed with bowel cancer that necessitated major surgery and a six-months follow-up course of chemotherapy. As I awaited my turn outside the operating room, an unbelievable sense of peace pervaded me and I felt as though the Lord was standing by my side.

Some days after surgery a nurse said to me, “Don’t despair, you’re one of the lucky ones. You have been given a second chance.”

Yes, I am one of the lucky ones; yes, I have been given a second chance; and each new day is an added bonus for which I praise and glorify the Lord.

After three doses of chemotherapy I was ready to quit and accept the consequences. What happened next I believe was Divine intervention because neither the special home visiting nursing staff nor surgeon was able to pinpoint the problem. My local G.P. just happened to telephone to enquire how the treatment was progressing and when I explained the severe doomsday-like symptoms effecting the mind and continuous restlessness I was experiencing, she realised they were caused by an adverse reaction to an anti-nausea drug. Once the drug was stopped there were no further problems. During those months of stress, the presence of the Lord was very near to me – an anchor in my personal storm.

Walking through the Dandenongs one day in Spring, three months after the chemotherapy course ended, I smelt the delicate perfume of roses, I saw the Creator’s marvellous handiwork in the many glorious hues of rhododendrons and azaleas, in the clinging laziness of the purple-flowered clematis vine, in the brilliant colours of king parrots and crimson rosellas, in the superb mimicry and dancing display of the lyrebird and two frolicking foxes. The wonders of God’s love intoxicated me.

In a letter to a woman’s magazine, a 70-year-old woman wrote, “I have been blind from birth. I have been told the sky is blue, the grass is green – but what colour is blue, what colour is green?” and I realized just how much I had to be grateful for.

Our youngest son, who has Asperger Syndrome, was in grade six at primary school, and as is only natural in our mortal make-up, I was extremely concerned what would happen to him if I didn’t “come through.” Many tears were shed privately when the initial diagnosis was given in 1995 and last week tears flowed once more when my Oncologist informed me there was no need to see him again, only this time the tears were different – they were tears of joy. Clear! What a beautiful word! I felt like shouting it from the mountaintops – proclaiming it to the world.

Walking along the footpath, silently praising and thanking my Best Friend, I noticed a crumpled, discarded page that had been torn from a Bible and dropped on the ground outside the Lilydale Post Office. The word ‘Praise’ caught my attention. Stooping down, I picked up that page and read: “Praise the Lord! I will praise the Lord with my whole heart, in the assembly of the upright and in the congregation.” (Psalm 111:1) Coincidence? No, Someone was giving me a gentle nudge.

To my ‘congregation’ I sincerely praise and thank the Lord for healing which has lengthened my life by at least six years and enabled me to experience the growth of four special grandchildren; to witness our youngest son’s Year 12 graduation and passing V.C.E; the honour bestowed on him at Speech Night in October; to behold the love he has for his Maker that resulted in his baptism on August 17; to see our eldest son and his wife answer a call to Volunteer Ministry at the Swan Hill Church; and for the privilege of serving my Creator. I can empathize with the lame man at the gate Beautiful, who, when healed, went ‘leaping and praising God’, and with the liberated prisoner released from his confining shackles. No word of thanks can adequately express my appreciation to my Heavenly Father.

The power of prayer – our mortal link to Immortality – is awesome, really awesome. “Let me sing the praises of Yahweh’s goodness, and of His marvellous deeds, in return for all that He has done for (me) us and for the great kindness He has shown (me) us in His mercy and in His boundless goodness.” (Isaiah 63:7) Amen

Elayne Stanford  (Received on Saturday January 19, 2002)