God’s Story ~ God is Still Faithful: A Young Mom’s Experience of Rare Cancer

Mar 28, 2016

Henley family 2011


“I’ll be a little disappointed if this lump isn’t cancer,” I told my husband after returning home from Bible study in October 2010. In that evening’s lesson on Isaiah 12, our teacher exhorted us to glorify God in front of a watching world by trusting him in the midst of suffering. As I scribbled notes furiously, I couldn’t help thinking of the biopsy I had scheduled for later in the week. My faithful Father was preparing me for the outcome by showing me His purpose in suffering: That His name would be glorified by my dependence on Him and continued praise of His character.

Less than a week later, I received a diagnosis of angiosarcoma, a rare and aggressive cancer with a five-year survival rate of 30%. I was a busy mom of three young kids—my boys were 6 and 4, and my baby girl was 18 months old. I had expected to grow old with my husband and see my kids grow into adulthood. And suddenly, I was fighting to see my 35th birthday.

But my story isn’t simply the story of cancer. My story is the story of God’s faithfulness, in the past, present and future.


God was faithful.

In the nine months following my diagnosis, I received seven rounds of high-dose chemotherapy. Five of these rounds took place 600 miles from my home, at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, as part of a clinical trial. I received five weeks of radiation treatments followed by surgery, all at MD Anderson. I spent 14 weeks away from my family, and I missed New Year’s, Valentine’s Day, and all three of my kids’ birthdays that year.

It broke my heart to be away from my young family, especially since I didn’t know how much time I had left with them. And the logistical challenges were a nightmare. Every time I was tempted to despair, God proved Himself faithful again.

He provided a wonderful nanny who left a secure job to love and serve our family. He provided a Christian couple in Houston—the in-laws of a friend-of-a-friend—who not only let me live in their home for months but treated me like I was their daughter. Six friends took time from their jobs and families, each spending a week caring for me at MD Anderson. On the days when sadness and fear overwhelmed me, the Lord comforted me in the midst of my pain.

Meanwhile, an army of friends, family members, and acquaintances kept all the plates spinning back home. They fed my family, drove my kids to school and piano lessons, decorated my home for Christmas, donated money and frequent flier miles, and never stopped praying for us.

None of it was easy. And yet, God showed us over and over again that He was walking with us and providing for us every step of the way.

What trials has the Father walked through with you? How did you see His hand providing for and sustaining you?


God is faithful.

As a cancer survivor, God has called me to minister to other women with cancer. I now intentionally befriend women with a life-threatening illness, and sometimes it brings heartbreak. I have visited friends in hospice care and watched too many children walk into their parents’ funerals. My prayer list of cancer fighters, survivors, and grieving families is growing longer every month.

By nature, I am a fixer, a problem-solver, a here’s-a-book-let’s-solve-this kind of friend. As God leads me into situations I can’t fix, I’m learning to depend on Him and trust my friend’s futures and families to His faithful hands.

Often the sadness caused by cancer is more than I can bear. When my emotional well runs dry, I have nowhere else to turn but His sustaining grace. As 1 Thessalonians 5:24 promises, “He who calls you is faithful.”

The Lord who calls us to challenging assignments is faithful to provide what we need to complete them. {Tweet this!}

What hard tasks has God called you to do? How are you being stretched by the assignments He gives? How can you see His faithfulness on display in these challenges?


God will be faithful.

My experience of cancer didn’t end in September 2011 when my oncologist said I was cancer-free. Frequent checkups, the need to be vigilant about suspicious symptoms, and the scars that result all serve as constant reminders of my changed health status. No matter how hard I try to move on, the cloud of fear lingers overhead: “What if it comes back?”

The mind of a cancer survivor is a battlefield. Some days, I don’t think about cancer at all. And other days, a weird ache or pain can send me into a complete panic. It is a daily fight to trust the Lord when I don’t know His plans for me. I’ve spent many late nights praying over my sleeping children and begging God to let me hold their babies someday. And I’ve spent more late nights pleading with Him to give me the faith to trust Him if He says no.

In my weakness, He is faithful to pour out His grace. He meets me in my fear and gently reminds me that His faithfulness endures forever. He demonstrated the extent of His love by sending His Son to die for my sin and make my future with Him secure.

I can look at my past and know His faithfulness is real. I can look at my present and know His faithfulness is true. And I can look at the cross and know His faithfulness exceeds my finite understanding. So I can face an uncertain future, knowing I belong to a faithful Father who loves me.

What about your future frightens you? How can the truth of God’s faithfulness in your past, your present, and your salvation encourage you?


Marissa HenleyMarissa Henley is a follower of Christ, wife, mom, and latte addict who blogs at www.marissahenley.com. Her book, Loving Your Friend Through Cancer: Words and Actions that Communicate Compassion, is available on Amazon. You can connect with Marissa via Facebook,Instagram, and Twitter.

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