AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY THROUGH CANCER
M J P • NEW YORK
AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY THROUGH CANCER
Copyright ©2008 Dr. Mary T. Campbell
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1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
Some names were changed as a courtesy but this has no bearing on the facts.
T hanks to
The Lord for taking me on this journey and changing my life
Mrs. Judy Crow for encouraging me to write this book.
Mr. Steve Farris, friend and photographer.
Mrs. Linda Brown for her friendship, encouragement and editing.
Mr. Neil Silverberg of Master Press
This book is dedicated to the Lord Most High because He is great
and worthy of all praise, honor and glory. I stand in awe at His won-
drous love toward each of us. I thrill at His nearness and delight in
This book is also dedicated to:
My beloved husband and friend, Calvin, for his strength and cour-
age. His faith and knowledge of the Word of God are like anchors in
the storms, and shade trees when I need rest. I cannot imagine a more
wonderful partner in this life.
My daughter Rachel for her delightful ways, love of God, love toward
us and her intense desire to be a blessing to others.
My dear friends, co-workers and family who stood with us.
My doctors, nurses, technicians, and behind the scenes medical sta s.
The countless nameless people around the world who touched our
lives and held us up in prayer.
Most especially, to those individuals who:
Were recently diagnosed with cancer.
Know others with cancer.
Need to know there is hope in the midst of every situation.
God has richly blessed me. To Him be the glory.
able of Contents
Chapter 1 A Love A air 15
Chapter 2 Symptoms & Biopsy 17
Chapter 3 Diagnosis – The Journey Begins 27
Chapter 4 Getting Ready for the Radiation Treatments 59
Chapter 5 Radiation Treatments 71
Chapter 6 Recuperating from the Radiation 93
Chapter 7 Reality Hits 103
Chapter 8 Letting Go 109
Chapter 9 Putting My House in Order 117
Chapter 10 Preparing for Surgery 133
Chapter 11 Surgery & Hospitalization 147
Chapter 12 The Pathology Report 161
Chapter 13 The Homecoming 167
Chapter 14 The Closet 183
Chapter 15 A New Home 191
Chapter 16 A Year of Recuperation 195
Chapter 17 Re ections 215
Chapter 18 Just the Beginning 219
Chapter 19 Experience the Abundant Life In Christ 221
About the Author 223
is a journey. It is a journey
that began before the foundation of the world, in the heart of God.
When we accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, our earthly journeys take
us down new paths. Each of these paths is a distinct trip and com-
plete journey, in and of itself. I do not believe the journey ends
when we pass into Heaven. Rather, I see our passing into Heaven
as a continuation of the journey. Why? Because I believe it will
take all of eternity to learn about the heart and nature of God, and
for Him to unfold His greatness to those who love Him.
As Christians, it is important that we realize walking with God is
a journey. Until we discover this pearl, we struggle; and it is di cult
to nd treasures in the tests and trials, or embrace the discipline
and chastening He reserves for His children. We view the trials as
mistakes or gure we must have done something wrong. We think,
“Isn’t life supposed to be easy now that I am a Christian?” Rather,
we are being puri ed by re into precious gold. He burns o the
impurities and presents us as trophies to the Father. As we walk
this life, the Lord is there with us each step of the way. Whether
we are mindful of Him or not, He is there.
Philippians sums up my journey through cancer as the Lord
held me close:
For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through
your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,
According to my earnest expectation and hope, that
in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as
always, now also Christ shall be magni ed in my body,
whether by life, or by death.
For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
Chapter One A LOVE AFFAIR
T hese are the chronicles of my unexpected journey. In
my esh, this was truly the most horri c experience of
my life. Yet, in my heart, it was the sweetest and most
dear because of what Christ settled in my spirit. I
would gladly do it all again, without a second thought, to settle
even more in my spirit forever about His love and greatness;
and to learn more about my blessed Savior and Lord.
Preparation for this journey began many years before the
events of this book unfolded.
Although I had been a Believer for 30 years, in July 1995
I fell wondrously and passionately in love with God. Since
that time, I have burned with a re and fervent adoration
for Him I never before realized was possible. As I became
more and more grounded in the Word, I realized there are
really very few things I can do on my own. I can desire
Him, obey Him, love Him, and spend more time with Him;
and even then, I can only do these things with His help.
Realizing how very needy I am was one of the most lib-
erating truths of my walk with Him.
The result? I have laid down all things for one singular
goal — to know Him in the fullness of His love and resur-
rection power. I want to know the inclusiveness of what He
purchased for us through the Blood of the Lamb; and to
know the expanse of what praying “in the Name of Jesus”
truly entails. I desire for the love of God to so shine through
16 O ne A LOVE AFFAIR
me that I disappear and only He is seen, heard or felt. I have set myself
to hear His voice and to obey as a bondservant of the Most High.
I know what it is to enter into the King’s chambers. To go into the
Holiest place with boldness. I have learned to sit at His feet and be
taught by Him and to receive directly from His hand. To still myself
and enter into His presence regardless of where I am. I desire Him
above all else and would gladly give away all my possessions to know
Him even more.
I have asked Him for childlikeness because that pleases Him, and
to make me the embodiment of the Proverbs woman. I desire to be
one who declares His mighty deeds amongst the nations; to be used
mightily to set the captives free; and to help usher in the Kingdom
of God. I want to know with every part of who I am that Satan is a
defeated foe, and to be used to utterly destroy the works of the enemy.
I only have one life and I want it to count for God.
My life took a tremendous turn in 2004. This journey has changed
the way I see Him and our relationship. Before this, our love a air
was like the wondrous, passionate love of two people when they rst
commit to a lifetime together. Now, from this journey, emerged
the solid burning re, trust and devotion of two lovers who walked
through the deep trials and tests of life and know each other because
they walked through them as one.
I am so very thankful for every tear, pain, test, and hardship I endured
through this journey. I am also thankful for the help of my God and
Lord, my family, my local church, and all the Believers who stood
with us through this ery trial. What a Mighty God we serve!
On this path there were extremes in every area. I knew tremendous
victories and excruciatingly deep sorrows; carefree excitement and gut-
wrenching dread; con rmations of faith and heart-rending helplessness.
I learned to stand on the Word while dealing with bitter assaults on my
spirit, mind and body. Knowing that I wanted to be comforted, but
desiring more to be kind and a comfort to others. I have never been
broken, humbled, or stripped down to the point that I felt the only thing
left to do was to crawl into my Savior’s lap and let Him hold and carry me
as I completed this journey. I am an anybody and I am a child of God.
With all my heart, I praise God for this wonderful journey into these
ChapterTwo SYMPTOMS & BIOPSY
I t is mid-November 2003 and I awaken in the night
with a sharp pain in the right side of my neck. I auto-
matically place my hand on my throat just under my
jaw, as if I could feel the source of the pain. Odd, there
is a at, hard space on my neck close to my ear, and my
throat is a little raw. If it’s a sore throat, I will know in the
morning. There has been a bitter taste in the very back of
my tongue for about 3 weeks now. I fall back asleep.
Late November, the phone rings. It is my sister. What?
My sister-in-law in California has lung cancer. It is in the
lining of her lungs. It is stage 4. How can this be? She
doesn’t smoke. She is a sweet and dear person who loves
God. The family is shaken. I begin to pray for her healing.
How can I comfort her and my brother?
It is the end of November. Again I awaken in the night
to the same sharp pain. Again my right hand goes up to
my throat. I discover the hard at surface is still present.
I feel it so that, if need be, I can describe it to my doctor.
It has distinctive edges. I hope the pain in my throat does
not keep me awake and that it will be gone in the morning.
The bitter taste continues.
18 T wo SYMPTOMS & BIOPSY
Early December, my friend Teresa calls and tells me she was
diagnosed with breast cancer. Teresa is a Christian and is believing
God for her healing.
My heart breaks for Teresa. Her husband passed away a little over 2
years ago and Teresa had just gotten back on track with her life. Without
her husband, I know it will be even more di cult for her to walk through
this. I ask her how she is doing. She tells me she has cried a lot, but she
has worked through that. She has decided to keep the news to herself
and a few close friends. She is clearly shaken and her voice is subdued.
Teresa tells me about the treatment plan the doctors have outlined for
her. She is about to be tted with a pump in her left arm to allow the
chemo to easily feed into her for the duration of the chemotherapy. The
pump will be removed from her arm when she nishes the treatment.
She tries to explain di erent terms about what the doctors have done
and how they pinpointed the cancer. “Teresa, I don’t understand the
words you’re using; they’re all new to me. You’re going to have to teach
me so that I can understand the signi cance of these words. I am willing
Teresa and I have been friends for almost 30 years. When she goes
through di cult things, she becomes very quiet and I do not hear from
her for a while. I want to be there for her but she is going to have to
take the lead in this and let me know what it is she needs in a given
moment. I ask her to promise to call me whenever she needs me day
or night. “Teresa, I don’t pretend to understand what it is you’re going
through; so you’re going to have to tell me what you need and when
you need it. If you want me to make you laugh, I’ll do my best. If you
want to cry, I’ll cry with you. If you just want to be quiet, I’ll be quiet
with you. If you want me to hold you, I’ll hold you, but you’re going
to have to tell me.”
I am unsettled about Teresa’s report. Cancer. The very word unnerves
me. I begin to deal with my own feelings about cancer and start praying
for Teresa’s healing.
I approach Tom Burke, one of my co-workers, whose wife, Gail,
survived breast cancer. It is di cult for Tom to talk about the breast
cancer, even though it happened over 5 years ago. Tom tears up when
he tells me what he and his wife walked through, yet he willingly shares
because he feels it is important to reach out to others. I ask Tom to help
me understand more about breast cancer. Tom and Gail are very active
in Relay-for-Life as a result of what they walked through. He tells me
about di erent sources for cancer literature and various support groups.
I appreciate his candor, and his love for his wife touches me deeply. It
is clear their love for each other was strengthened through this di cult
time in their lives, and it has brought them even closer together. Their
love and strength are tangible, and serves as a source of strength and
comfort to others. They, too, are Christians and trusted God for Gail’s
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 6TH, 2003
I am scheduled to y to a conference in Las Vegas on Sunday and I
still have to pack. When I awaken this morning, my jaw hurts terribly,
especially near the joint. There is severe pain going into my right eye
and I have an earache. I look at my face in the mirror and am startled
by what I see. The entire right side of my face is swollen from below
my eye down to my collarbone. I cannot see the bottom half of my ear.
My ngertips easily follow the outline of a long lump. It is larger at the
top and narrows as it travels down my neck.
Since my doctor’s o ce is closed weekends, I go to a primary medical
care center to determine if it will be all right for me to travel. I do not
want to irritate my ear due to air pressure changes while ying, and I
certainly do not want to infect anyone if I am contagious.
The doctor is unsure as to what is causing the swelling. No sore throat,
no fever, good appetite. He wonders if it is mumps or a swollen parotid
gland. What in the world is a parotid gland? He determines I am not infec-
tious and it is all right to y the next day. He prescribes antibiotics and
tells me to come back in a week if there is no improvement. As he leaves
the room I hear him mumble, “…and you might want to get a blood test
for lymphoma…” Lymphoma? That’s cancer. My grandmother passed away
from breast cancer and I had already told God I would never receive cancer.
I leave the doctor’s o ce, ll the prescription, and pack for the trip.
20 T wo SYMPTOMS & BIOPSY
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 7TH
My parents live in Las Vegas. After I settle into the hotel, we meet
for dinner. They ask if I have heard the news about my sister-in-law
and the lung cancer. I tell them, “Yes.” We pray that she will be
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 11TH
My parents invite me to join them for dinner at their home. It
is an enjoyable evening and my mom is a great cook. I mention
the swelling in my face. My mom reminds me when I was a baby
I had the mumps, and the left side of my face and neck had swelled
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 13TH
I return to the primary care physician. “No, Sir. There is no change.”
As we talk, I mention that I have a doctor’s appointment already
scheduled for the following Wednesday for a routine visit with my
general practitioner. The primary care physician recommends I speak
to my doctor about the symptoms.
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 17TH
Dr. Nor eet has been my general practitioner for 30 years. He is a
godly man whom I trust, respect, and consider a friend and advocate.
I describe the symptoms and the treatment given by the primary care
doctor. I also mention I am very tired and have di culty sleeping, to
the point that my husband and daughter are concerned. As an aside, I
mention my right nostril routinely closes when I inhale. Dr. Nor eet
said that is common as individuals grow older as the skin becomes
less elastic. Christmas is next week, so Dr. Nor eet’s nurse schedules
a consult with a sleep apnea specialist at the local hospital, and a
second appointment with an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) doctor.
Both appointments fall on January 5th, 2004.
It is a new year. Yes! I am excited that the pain from a car accident in
January 2001 is now under control and largely behind me. It has been
a tough couple of years, but now I am bouncing back. I determine to
move on with my life and start building up my vacation and sick leave
that was hit pretty hard during the accident recovery period. We are
also excited because my husband and I have decided to build a house.
We are working on the plans and will sign the papers on January 24th
to begin building.
The initial shock about Teresa going through cancer is fading, and is
replaced by an intense desire to help her, but I do not know how. I go
to Tom Burke for advice. “What can I do to help Teresa? I want to be
a good friend through all of this, no matter what.”
Tom tells me it is important for Teresa to understand this is not her
fault and that she is not alone. He says “We think we are alone because
it’s happening to us, but there’s lots of people going through the same
thing. She needs to share what she is going through with others.” I tell
him Teresa has decided to keep it private. Tom stresses how important
it is to share with others. He explains many people feel there is a
“scarlet letter” attached to cancer, and are ashamed and do not share
it with others. He knows the burden is too great for one person to
handle alone, and talking to someone about it can bring comfort. He
explains some of the things Teresa will undergo in her treatment and
what I should expect. Tom speaks to me at length and I feel much more
comfortable about how I can best help my friend.
I ask Tom how he and Gail dealt with her diagnosis of breast cancer.
Tom said that over the years Gail and he had seen the breast cancer
advertisements. They understood it was something that could happen,
and felt it was important to be prepared. When Gail was diagnosed,
“We knew the American Cancer Society was in the back of our minds,
but where do we go from here?” They went to their church but this
was a new experience for the pastor and church sta . Tom says, “We
22 T wo SYMPTOMS & BIOPSY
stumbled through this together with other ‘ rst timers’ who had never
gone through this with their parishioners or families.”
Our area is surrounded by water and there are many beautiful parks
and waterways to enjoy. According to Tom, he and Gail went down
and sat by the water, discussed their options about the cancer, and
faced their fears. They decided to ght the cancer “face on,” do what
the doctor advised, and do it immediately. For them, it was important
to discuss the options, knowing the doctors would not let them make
the wrong decision. Each new step of the process was handled in the
After Gail’s surgery and treatment, Tom and Gail wanted to do
“something” to help others. Relay for Life was mentioned, so they went
not knowing what else to do. Tom did not want to go because he gets
very emotional whenever he talks about what they went through. At the
Relay for Life meeting, they were surprised to see several people they
knew from the local community who also dealt with cancer and survived.
They found themselves talking to others and were encouraged.
MONDAY, JANUARY 5TH
I meet with a doctor in the pulmonary care center of a nearby hospital.
I nd it odd the sleep apnea consult is in a pulmonary care center, but
the receptionist says I am at the right place. Go gure. The doctor, a
Cardiologist, is very calm, professional and has a soothing voice. She
asks me about my sleeping habits: Am I tired during the day or when
I drive? How alert am I when I have to drive for several hours? What
about the hour drive from here to Richmond 50 miles away; does that
make me tired?
I try to follow her questions, but I am distracted because I have not
slept well for so long. It’s been years. The Cardiologist asks how many
times I wake up during the night. “I don’t know, I never really counted.
When it happens, maybe 30 or 40 times.” As she continues with the
line of questions, I spy a leather couch in her o ce. As I stare at the
couch, I want nothing more than to go over to it and lie down. I auto-
matically look around the room to see if she has a pillow I could use.
Pillow or not, I just want to lie down and go to sleep. “Excuse me,
what? Do I easily get tired in quiet settings? Uh, yes, Ma’am.”
She calmly begins her examination and instructs me to open my
mouth. She looks into my throat and unexpectedly says, “Oh my! Your
tonsils are gigantic!” What girl wouldn’t want to hear that? We talk and
I explain that I am scheduled to meet with an ENT doctor later in the
day because of the swelling in my face and throat. She says that is good
because she was going to refer me to one. She schedules me for a sleep
apnea test Thursday, January 22nd. As she leaves, she says she would like
the ENT to send her the results of his examination.
As I wait for the ENT doctor, I begin reading the various plaques
on the examination room walls. The walls are covered with presti-
gious degrees and professional credentials covering a 40-year career
in Otolaryngology. It is immediately clear Dr. Nor eet, my general
practitioner, sent me to a real “heavy hitter” and an expert in this eld.
I smile and am thankful for the level of concern, caring and treatment
with which my physicians care for me. Thank you, Lord, for leading me
to these people.
Dr. Richard, is a kind and gentle man. He, too, is patient and caring.
Dr. Richard talks to me for a few minutes about the symptoms. I
mention the visit earlier in the morning at the pulmonary care center
and the Cardiologist’s interest in what Dr. Richard’s examination yields.
Dr. Richard feels my throat and notes the lump. He casually asks me to
open my mouth. He startles. “My, you have some big boys in there!”
Not quite what I expected, but memorable nonetheless.
The doctor numbs my nose and throat. He asks if I smoke or drink.
“No, Sir.” The solutions he uses taste terrible and add to the bitterness
I am already experiencing. He feeds a black tube with a scope and light
through my nose and down my throat. He nishes the examination,
but cannot determine the cause for the swelling. Like a kindly father,
he nudges my arm with his elbow and says with a twinkle in his eyes,
“This is a mystery and we will be like detectives to solve it.”
The rst step is to do a needle aspiration (extract cells with a needle).
The cells he removes are from the base of my neck at the slender part of
the lump. Dr. Richard tells me the results will be back in a few days.
As he writes on my medical chart, he casually asks if I have ever had
x-ray therapy. I don’t know what “x-ray therapy” means. I think back
24 T wo SYMPTOMS & BIOPSY
on some medical problems I had as a child with my throat and that
the treatment could have been x-ray therapy. He tells me it is not the
same thing and that I would have remembered if I had undergone x-
ray therapy. He writes a little more in his notes. He tells me he will
call me with the test results.
As I leave, I am thinking, “Okay I have a mass in my neck. No big
deal.” Even with all my education, I can be absolutely clueless at
times. My husband and daughter nd this quality endearing. I like
this positive spin on my ability to miss the obvious. Somehow, “x-ray
therapy” does not equate to chemo or radiation in my mind. In ret-
rospect, I am glad I did not make the connection at this time.
At home, I look at my throat. Both tonsils are clearly visible. The right
tonsil is so large that it is almost touching the left tonsil. The uvula (the
little ap of skin that hangs from the roof of the mouth near the throat) is
lying at, horizontally sandwiched between the top of my tonsil and the
roof of my mouth. The tonsils look large, but since I had tonsillitis many
times during my twenties, I don’t think twice about it.
THURSDAY, JANUARY 16TH
It is a little past 5:00 in the evening. I am still working at the o ce
when Dr. Richard calls me. He says there were no cancer cells detected.
I laugh silently. Of course not. I told God I would never receive cancer. He
continues to talk in his fatherly manner. He calmly tells me there is a
clearly visible mass in my throat that will probably need to be removed,
but he does not know what it is at this time. Suddenly he stops mid-
sentence and his voice takes on a serious tone. He tells me he wants to
repeat the procedure and instructs me to come back for a second needle
aspiration in the morning. I agree. The swelling and pain in my face and
One of my sisters lives locally. She, too, loves God. She discovered
a local church that believes in healing and has wanted to check it out.
She asks if I would like to go with her. My husband, Calvin, and I
decide to go to the “healing church” with her this coming Wednesday.
FRIDAY, JANUARY 17TH
I meet with the ENT and again he extracts cells in my neck with a
needle. This time he inserts the needle in the larger part of the mass, near
my jaw. He tells me he will call me in a couple of days with the results.
SUNDAY, JANUARY 18TH
I receive a call from a friend who is involved with the Ladies Ministry
at our church. She noticed I had not signed up to attend the brunch
they are holding next Saturday, January 24th. She lovingly says she
wants to extend a “personal invitation” to me. I consider what she says
and sense God wants me to attend, so I tell her okay. A close friend,
Barbara Hawk, will be giving her testimony and I know I am supposed
to be there to hear Barbara speak.
I am reminded about Barbara’s testimony. During a routine eye exam,
a tumor was detected behind her left eye. In their search for the primary
source of the tumor, the doctors discovered cancer in Barbara’s lungs.
Barbara lives a Godly life and does not smoke. Barbara was diagnosed
with stage 4 non-small cell lung cancer and given 3-6 months to live.
In one of those divine appointments, Calvin and I had planned to
attend an evening church service at a local prayer and worship center
on the day Barbara was diagnosed. We had no way of knowing what
was going on with Barbara or that she and her husband, Wilson, were
also planning on attending. Barbara and Wilson spotted us and, after
the service was over, they approached. We were told Barbara was
diagnosed with cancer and they asked for prayer. Barbara said the Lord
had spoken to her when the doctor told her about the cancer. The Lord
said, “Whose report will you believe?” Barbara knew God was going
to heal her. Several of the members from our local church were there
26 T wo SYMPTOMS & BIOPSY
that evening. As we prayed for her healing, I was touched by Barbara’s
strength. She was clearly shaken, but she is strong in her faith. Barbara
and Wilson left immediately to go to M. D. Anderson Cancer Center
in Texas for treatment. My heart went out to Barbara.
That was 4 and a half years ago. October 2005 will be 5 years since
the diagnosis. I look forward to hearing Barbara’s testimony at the
Ladies Ministry brunch next Saturday.
My sister calls around 9:00 PM. She wants to con rm that we are
still interested in going to the healing service on Wednesday evening,
January 21st. “Yes, we are planning on being there. See you then.”
ChapterThree DIAGNOSIS—THE JOURNEY BEGINS
W EDNESDAY EVENING, JANUARY 21ST
I am nishing my work so I can meet
up with my husband, Calvin. The plan is
to travel together to the healing service.
The phone rings and I answer. It is Dr. Richard. He tells
me the results are back from the lab. “You tested positive
for squamous cell cancer…” He continues to talk, but I
cannot hear him. What? This can’t be. I remind God I will
never accept cancer. I look at the clock. It is 5:20 PM and
I know my life just changed forever.
A torrent of thoughts go through my mind. I am thrown
o by the diagnosis. Not knowing what else to say, I ask
Dr. Richard, “How scared should I be?” He tells me if I
go through the treatment he prescribes, he believes I have a
pretty good chance of beating this. The cancer had metas-
tasized (spread) to my lymph system. I have seen enough
movies to know this is very serious. Isn’t cancer in the lymph
system the nal step… I capture my thoughts and listen to
what the doctor is saying.
He tells me cancer never starts in the lymph system. He
wants to schedule a biopsy for the following Wednesday so
he can determine the primary source of the cancer. He
schedules an appointment with us so he can describe how we
will proceed. Before he ends the conversation, Dr. Richard
recommends I call my dentist and have any required dental
work done before we begin radiation treatment.
28 T hree DIAGNOSIS—THE JOURNEY BEGINS
Barbara Hawk comes to my mind. Immediately I hear “Whose
report will you believe?” It brings me comfort as my mind continues
to race. I am reminded that I am scheduled to go to a healing service
tonight, and on Saturday morning Barbara Hawk will be giving her
I think about Corrie Ten Boom’s story. Corrie, a Christian, was a
Dutch woman in her mid- fties who thought she was at the end of her
peaceful life when Nazi troops invaded Holland during World War II.
Corrie and her family hid Jews in the Ten Boom’s family home until
the Dutch underground could take the Jews to safety. When they were
betrayed, the Nazis arrested Corrie and her family. Her story is told
in her book, The Hiding Place (Random House, 1982). Corrie’s story,
her faith, and her love for God have touched many people. One par-
ticular story Corrie tells has spoken to me over the years about God’s
provision and timing in our lives. As a child, Corrie was to go on a
train trip. Over and over Corrie asked her father to give her the train
ticket, but her father held on to it until it was time for her to get on
the train. At the time she needed the ticket, was when he provided it
to her. My heavenly Father is giving me the “tickets” I need as I go on
I call Calvin. My head is spinning and I start to cry. We talk for a
minute, and he assures me it will all work out. He says he wants me
to drive home and the two of us will meet my sister at the church. I
really do not want to be alone right now, and I certainly do not want
to drive. But I trust Calvin and I drive home.
How sweet of God to meet my every need. Matthew 6:8 says our
Heavenly Father knows what we need before we ask Him. Mark 11:24
tells us that, even before we pray, we are to believe He has already answered
us and He will give it to us. I received the diagnosis at 5:20 PM and an
hour and a half later I attend a healing service.
Tonight I receive the rst of many prayers for my healing. As we
part company, my sister hands me a tape with healing scriptures she
“just happens to have” in her car. Thank You, Lord.
At home, Calvin and I talk. We know what the scripture says about
God’s faithfulness and provision for us. We choose to stand on the
scripture and walk through this with faith. We look to God to lead and
guide us. I am blessed by Calvin’s calmness, his willingness to discuss
this with me, and to stand by me through this as a man of God.
Calvin and I discuss the sleep apnea study scheduled for tomorrow,
Thursday. Calvin sees no reason for me to keep the appointment. I sense
in my spirit it is important for me to go. We discuss it and both agree I will
go through with the study.
As we continue to talk, we try to gure out how we will tell our
daughter, Rachel, about the diagnosis. Rachel lives several hours away
from us. Calvin and Rachel have a wonderful relationship and he is very
much in tune with how she will react in a given situation. We know
this will be a tremendous shock to her. She will need time to contact
her friends and time to cry and work this through. We also want to wait
until after we speak to Dr. Richard, the ENT, tomorrow morning and
hear what he has to say. Calvin thinks it is best to tell Rachel on Saturday
when she will not be distracted by work and she can rally in whatever
way is best for her. We feel it is important for her to know, and want her
to be a part of this. We agree Cal will tell her on Saturday.
I am presented with many choices. The disease, the lies of the enemy,
my esh, and the questions the Lord asks, all present decision points. I
can fall or stand. Be fearful or choose peace. Surrender hope or cling
to it. Lose sight of the Word or hold fast. Insist on my own will or trust
in God’s will for my life. Speak death or life. Trust in man, medicine,
myself; or trust in the God of my salvation.
I do not view a “diagnosis” as fact. To me, it is simply a measur-
able baseline to focus prayer, and documents the extent of the miracle
to those who need proof. I try to watch my words carefully – I was
“diagnosed” with cancer, I do not “have” cancer and it certainly does
not have me. To “have” something is to own it, and I refuse to own
cancer. To me, a diagnosis is an opinion; Christ is the reality.
I know sickness is not from God. I also know the enemy cannot touch
me unless God allows it. Jesus came to heal all the sick (Luke 4:40, Acts
5:16) and to utterly destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8). Since
God is for me, then who can come against me (Romans 8:31)?
30 T hree DIAGNOSIS—THE JOURNEY BEGINS
In a quiet moment, I talk with God. “Lord,You alone know the number
of my days. I know that no enemy can snatch me from Your hand and
my life will not end even one second before the appointed time.”
I ask Him if I should go public with the diagnosis or if I should
keep it private. As soon as I say “or keep it private, ” I feel fear rise up
within me. Through this, I know I am to go public with the informa-
tion, and decide to tell everyone I can as the Lord leads. In the next
moment, one after the other, the Lord begins to show me di erent
people in my o ce. First one person is “standing” before me and
the Lord lls me with His love and I know I can trust the person in
front of me to help me through this. He shows me a second and third
person, and each time He lls me with His love. After showing me
several individuals, I notice there is a group of co-workers still standing
to the side. I see the hand of the Lord gently move these people into
the shadows. He speaks softly, lovingly. “Don’t worry about these.
They are not able to deal with this, and that it is all right.” One co-
worker in particular stands out in this crowd. I resolve in my heart to
be particularly attentive to her as I walk through this.
THURSDAY, JANUARY 22ND
How do I tell my supervisor, Gary Gillette, about the diagnosis? This is
hard. I know of several co-workers who died of cancer in the past several
years; some of whom worked directly for Gary. Do I work? Do I not
work? Lord? I tell Gary what the doctor said. Gary asks about my plans.
“I don’t really have a plan. I want to continue working and will simply
walk this out moment by moment.” Gary agrees. I will know more after
I meet with Dr. Richard again and will keep Gary up to date.
I see Tom Burke at work in his cubicle, and it strikes me how the very
words Tom shared with me to comfort Teresa a couple weeks ago now
comfort me. When I spoke to Tom earlier in the month, I never imagined
I was being prepared for my own unexpected journey. God knew.
I call my dentist, and he rearranges his plans for Saturday to do
emergency dental work on my mouth. It is important for me to have
all dental work done before the treatment, because healing in the mouth
is signi cantly slowed down during and after radiation therapy on the
face and neck. I require a crown to be replaced and possibly a root
canal. The dentist schedules a 4-hour appointment.
A co-worker and I talk about what I am going through. She has a
very matter of fact approach to life and sickness because of what some
of her friends and family members have gone through. She speaks with
an understanding and boldness that others, who have not gone through
similar things, would be reluctant to say. I appreciate the fact that she is
not “afraid” of me or talking about the cancer. When we talk, she looks
me straight in the eye. It is really very refreshing and I can be very open
about what I share with her.
During one of our discussions, she tells me about a friend, and
former o ce mate of hers, named Penny. Penny was diagnosed with
non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The tumor was behind her collarbone and
treatment included neck radiation. My co-worker contacted Penny
on my behalf, received her permission, then passed Penny’s telephone
number to me.
As friends and co-workers become aware of the diagnosis, one after
the other con des that they had such and such tumor in the past. Some
had malignant tumors, others were benign. All the tumors and treatment
were in areas covered by their clothing. I re ect on the fact that the
tumor for which I am believing God for a healing is on my neck, a very
public place. I know God is using, and will use, the placement of the
tumor and the type of cancer somehow to His glory; and has allowed
the tumor to be visible on me.
When we meet, Dr. Richard tells us he believes the primary source of
the cancer is my right tonsil. He tells us tonsil cancer is extremely rare.
Tonsil cancer? Who ever heard of tonsil cancer? The doctors will not know
32 T hree DIAGNOSIS—THE JOURNEY BEGINS
until they sample the tissue in the tonsil as to whether or not it is the
primary source of the cancer.
The plan for the next week is to perform a biopsy at the hospital.
Dr. Richard is a face and neck surgeon and is also a cosmetic surgeon.
He will use a scope to look at my tonsils, throat and bronchial tubes
to see if he can visually detect any additional cancer cells. At the same
time, he will perform a biopsy of the tonsil to determine if it is the
primary source of the cancer.
If the doctors do not nd cancer cells in the tonsil during this
procedure, they will perform a tonsillectomy and a complete biopsy
of the tonsil. The biopsy consists of performing a slice-by-slice
examination of the tonsil to see if any cancer cells are present in the
pathology specimen. According to Dr. Richard, recovery for tonsil-
lectomies in adults is extremely painful.
If the doctors do nd cancer in the tonsil during the biopsy, they
will stop the procedure. I will then be scheduled for about 6 weeks
of daily radiation treatments, followed by a tonsillectomy and removal
of the lymph system in the right side of my neck. Dr. Richard looks
at me squarely and tells me the surgical procedure is very serious. The
uncertainty of what he may discover makes planning di cult. Again,
we choose to play it by ear.
We talk to Dr. Richard about a second opinion. Dr. Richard is
very open and says he will help us nd another ENT surgeon with
whom we can consult. He says his only criterion is to ensure the
opinion is from an ENT surgeon with the same level of expertise and
experience. From reports from friends, Dr. Richard is well known
throughout the medical community. By his credentials, I know he
has roughly 40-years of surgical experience. Also, he tells us it is
important to consider both the quality and location of the treatment
facility, as all subsequent follow-up and emergency treatments are
with the surgeon selected for treatment. After hearing him out, Cal
and I look at each other. Through our look, we recognize both are
in agreement. We decide to stay with Dr. Richard and both have a
peace about our decision.
Calvin and I had previously heard about Duke University, M. D.
Anderson Cancer Center, University of Virginia, and Johns Hopkins
from di erent friends. There is also a world class facility here locally
about which we were unaware. As we raise the various options, Dr.
Richard answers our questions. All have wonderful programs. For
where we are in this and with what we are dealing, we choose the
cancer center at a nearby hospital because we sense it will exactly meet
our needs. Again, we have peace and assurance in our choice.
Amy, a nurse, lls out the pre-admission paperwork required for the
biopsy and possible tonsillectomy. She calmly tells us what to do and
where to go. She is sweet and her con dence is calming.
In a quiet moment, as I sit alone to collect my thoughts, I begin to
consider the possibility of this being the end of my life. Lord, if these really
are my nal days … As incredible as it sounds, before I nish the sentence,
I suddenly nd myself standing before the throne of God. He is seated on
His throne. I am very small as I stand before Him. His robe reaches to the
oor. As I look up, He is so high above me, I can only see His legs up to
His knees. I can see His hands resting on the chair arms, but His chest and
face are recessed back out of my line of sight. Unseen waves of creative
energy swirl about. As I stand here, I realize I will hear the angels crying
“Holy, holy, holy,” forever; and I know in this place there is no sorrow, or
tears, or pain.
As I think on these things, I am aware of an absolute peace pouring
into me. It is the deepest peace I have ever experienced and it permeates
every cell of my body. Then the peace is followed immediately by joy
lling me from my head to my feet. The joy is deep and satisfying, and
it lls every part of me. It is the sense of absolute joy and contentment;
wanting for nothing, ceasing from striving. There is no other goal than to
enjoy His presence. Suddenly an incredible excitement and a wonderful
expectation of going home washes over me and lls me.
The peace, joy, excitement and expectation are so complete that each
time this occurs, it ends with my spirit yielding and rising up towards
Heaven, as if it is departing my body in this moment and I am going
home to be with Him forever. (This happens a total of four times over
the course of a couple days.) The fourth time this occurs, the Lord
speaks to me and says, “Mary, I want you to ght this [the cancer].” I
respond without thinking. Like a little child who knows her Father
34 T hree DIAGNOSIS—THE JOURNEY BEGINS
loves her, I say “Okay, Lord.” It does not occur to me what I will have
to go through. I only know that He loves me and I trust Him.
THURSDAY EVENING, JANUARY 22ND
I arrive at the sleep apnea center at 8:00 PM, as instructed. The
technician is very kind. She connects electrode after electrode to
various parts of my body – the top and back of my head, near my eyes,
mouth, abdomen, heart, and ngertip. There is a camera overhead to
monitor my movements and an intercom to listen to my breathing.
How in the world am I supposed to sleep with all of this? The technician
tells me she may have to awaken me in the night to put on a Con-
tinuous Positive Air Pressure (CPAP) mask. She ts the mask to my
face and adjusts the straps, just in case. I recall telling the cardiologist
some nights I awaken maybe 30-40 times. I wonder now if the sleep
test will con rm that. Wired, I take one last look at the CPAP mask
lying on the table and I am ready for bed. It feels good to fall asleep
and quiet my mind.
It is 1:30 AM and the sleep technician is waking me. There is an
urgency in her voice. I am extremely groggy and have trouble under-
standing what she is saying. “Mrs. Campbell, you need to put this
on now!” As she straps the mask to my head, over the wires, she
quickly continues, “You went into apnea as soon as you fell asleep.
Hopefully this will allow you to fall into REM sleep.” REM (Rapid
Eye Movement) is a deep level of sleep.
As I lay back down, the technician tells me she normally sets the positive
pressure level to “5.” Positive pressure is measured in centimeters of water
(cm H2O) versus pounds per square inch (psi). I subsequently learn the
range of positive pressure is 5 to 20 cm H2O. Most people begin at 5
cm H2O; however, because of my test readings, the technician sets the
positive pressure at 9 cm H2O to start me.
I lay back down to go to sleep. It is not clear what is happening.
Have I bolted upright in my bed, or is it my spirit that has bolted
upright? I cannot tell. All I know is that some aspect of me has
bolted upright and I have raised my right arm towards heaven. My
hand is in a st. I know that the apnea is not mine. With absolute
conviction I silently cry out, “God, I know you do not have this for
me! You said you have provided healing for us and all we have to do is
receive it. I receive my healing now!” I fall into a deep sleep.
FRIDAY, JANUARY 23RD
It is 6:30 AM and the technician is trying to wake me. I am very
groggy. I hear her saying, “You went into REM sleep.” That’s good,
right? Then why does she sound so shaken? She continues, “The oxygen
mix in a normal person’s blood is 95-100 percent when they sleep. As
soon as you fell asleep the rst time, your oxygen mix dropped to 70
percent. When you fell asleep with the mask on and went into REM
sleep, your oxygen level dropped to 60 percent. To raise your oxygen
level, we had to ramp the CPAP to 15 [cm H2O].” I remember the
literature from the Cardiologist’s o ce. Without the CPAP, individuals
diagnosed with sleep apnea are subject to heart attacks and strokes. The
technician contacts a home respiratory center and orders a CPAP unit.
I am to pick it up next Tuesday, January 27th.
Wednesday night I am diagnosed with cancer. Thursday night I am diagnosed
with severe obstructive sleep apnea. Tough week! I smile at the absurdity of
As I leave the sleep center, I literally feel the incredible grogginess that
has plagued me for several years instantly lift o of me. I feel refreshed
and clear-headed. (To this day, the grogginess has not returned. A
I decide to go directly from the sleep study center to the hospital
to complete the pre-admission paperwork and lab work necessary for
next Wednesday’s biopsy. I listen to healing scriptures on the way to
the hospital. As I go to the admission o ce, I notice a man who is also
being admitted. I go to the lab and the same man enters the room. It
is only the two of us.
Feeling uncomfortable in the small, quiet room, I ask why he is being
admitted. He points to a walnut-sized lump on his forehead. He tells
me he has squamous cell cancer and he is here to have it removed.
Squamous cell cancer? Hey, I was diagnosed with that! Before this past
Wednesday night, I never heard of squamous cell cancer and here is
36 T hree DIAGNOSIS—THE JOURNEY BEGINS
someone who has also been diagnosed with the same form of cancer.
I say, “I was diagnosed with squamous cell cancer, but they say it is
in my tonsil.” He tells me he had squamous cell cancer in his tonsil,
too, and he had completed the radiation and surgery. In a sad voice
he says, “It was my fault. I used to smoke.” I respond to him and say,
“I didn’t smoke.” He looks up out of curiosity.
I am intrigued that he had undergone tonsil cancer. According to
the literature, only .6 percent (not even 1 percent) of the detected
cancer cases are tonsil cancer. In the natural, the likelihood of my
meeting this gentleman, this morning, in an empty waiting room is
phenomenally low. I ask, if he does not mind, if I can look at his
neck. The next thing I know I am looking at this stranger’s severely
scarred neck. The skin is pewter gray, taut and shiny. His tendons and
muscles stand out as if he had been in a terrible re a long time ago.
There are golf-ball sized holes between the muscles. Something rises
up in my spirit and, again, I silently cry out to God with everything
in me, “God, I know you do not have this for me!”
I look at the man and tell him I will pray for his healing, just as I
am praying for my own, because I know God heals. The man looks
at me simply and in his sad voice says, “That would be nice if that
was possible.” I respond, “Are you kidding me? God has healed me
of several things in the past that others said I would have all my life.
My husband, friends and I have prayed over other people, as well, and
God healed many of them, too.” I ask his name. His name is John. I
encourage John and then I leave. Thank you, Lord, for encouraging me to
follow through with the apnea test and leading me to go to the hospital this
morning. (I continue to lift John up in prayer to this day as the Lord
brings him to my remembrance.)
As I listen to the scripture tape en route to work, something clicks
in my spirit and I know that God will heal me. I am weeping with
joy and lled with “knowing.” I call Cal and say “We are ghting this.
Even if it means we have to fast, we are ghting this.” Cal commits to
standing with me and knows God is going to heal me.
I arrive at work over owing with the love of my Heavenly Father and
excited about this journey! I tell one of my co-workers, “I am ghting
this!” She says, “Of course you are, when you consider the alternative.”
I can not believe my ears and I start laughing. I say, “Are you kidding
me? Forever in His presence. Hearing the angels cry ‘Holy, holy, holy.’
No more sorrow or tears? Frankly, I have had to stop thinking about
going home [to Heaven] or I wouldn’t be able to ght this!”
Gary, my supervisor built a new home a year ago. He has been helping us
make a list of things that worked well for Gary and his wife, Laura, during
the construction of their home and those that he would have done di er-
ently. I mention that we have decided to ask the builder for an extension
so that we can have time to pray about whether or not we should continue
with our present plans to build. Gary knowingly nods and agrees this is a
di cult time to make a decision like this.
Calvin calls the builder. The builder is also a Christian. Cal tells him
what is going on and that now is not the time to make a major nancial
decision. The builder agrees. Cal asks for 2-weeks to allow us to seek God.
The builder okays the extension. We look to God for direction. We also
contact our health bene ts company to see how much we will have to pay
towards the treatment. We wait on God.
Calvin calls the church and asks that I be placed on the prayer chain.
Calvin also calls various friends known for their faith and intercessory
prayer and he asks them to pray, as well. Reports start coming in from
friends stationed around the world – we are on the prayer lists of many
churches. Intercessors are praying on our behalf. Most dearly, we are
told little children are praying for us and remind their parents if we are
overlooked during the family’s daily prayers.
Cal and I are in agreement. We do not want to see “Mary Campbell –
cancer” on the list of prayer requests displayed on the church’s overhead
screen or listed in the bulletin. For me, the thought of this declaration
hits my spirit hard and feels like a death sentence. We also agree not to
add my name to the list of sick. I am not sick. I am ghting a defeated
38 T hree DIAGNOSIS—THE JOURNEY BEGINS
foe through an all-victorious God. I want to be on a “Victorious in
Battle” list if the church had one!
Cal and I are having lunch at a local sandwich shop. I take a bite
of my food. It tastes terrible to me because of the bitterness in my
mouth. I automatically turn and o er the rest of the sandwich to
Calvin. In mid turn I stop. He looks at me. I pull my hand back,
“I was going to o er the rest to you, but I took a bite of it. I didn’t
think you would want it now.” He softly responds, “Mary, it [cancer]
isn’t contagious.” He takes the sandwich from my hand and eats it.
Not long after, I start to kiss him on the lips. Again I stop. What if
he does not want to kiss me now? He looks at me questioningly. “I was
going to kiss you, but I didn’t think you would want to kiss me now,”
I respond. Again he speaks in the softest of voices, but lled with
con dence, “Mary, it isn’t contagious.” Then he kisses me. Thank
you, Lord, for Calvin.
Penny keeps coming to my mind so I call her. She o ers to talk to
me about the radiation treatment. Penny tells me she has photographs
of her radiation treatments and still has the mask the Radiologists
used when radiation was applied to her neck and chest. She o ers
to bring the photographs for me to see if I feel it would be helpful.
I am simultaneously curious and uncomfortable. I think about it for
a minute then tell her, “Yes, I would like to see them.” We schedule
lunch for early next week.
I thank God for my relationship with Him. I know He deals with
each of us as individuals. He knows us and the seasons of our hearts.
I understand that during times such as these, many people scour the
word and develop powerful relationships and love a airs with God.
In this situation there is no doubt. For me personally, if I had waited
until now to nd God in this way, it would have been too late and I
would not have been able to make it through this trial. The hymns,
worship and praise songs minister to me throughout the night and
day. It is holding fast to that which I hold dear, standing on His word,
yielding to His touch and call, and the love we share that carries me
through minute by minute.
SATURDAY, JANUARY 24TH
Today is going to be a busy day. First I plan on attending a portion
of the Ladies Ministry brunch. I expect to stay long enough to hear
Barbara Hawk’s testimony and hopefully have su cient time to receive
prayer from the ladies. After that, I plan to leave and prepare for the 4-
hour dental appointment. The appointment is at 1:00 PM. I know that
at some point today, Calvin will be calling Rachel to tell her about the
diagnosis. I say a prayer that God will help both of them.
As I prepare to leave for the Ladies Ministry a commercial comes
on the television. I look up at the television screen to see a senior
gentleman and his “wife” at a bowling alley. According to the com-
mercial, the gentleman has survived some life-threatening illness. The
two smile at one another and take each other’s hand, content because
he did not pass away. I start crying and cannot stop. Calvin hugs me
and says a prayer for me. I get my emotions under control.
I am uncomfortable entering the hotel room reserved for the ladies
brunch because it is obvious by the redness around my eyes and nose
that I have been crying. I put those thoughts aside and prepare to enter
the brunch area. Toy is in charge of the Ladies Ministry. She sees me
at the door and I realize I am going to have to explain the situation and
ask for prayer. Immediately I start crying again.
Toy joins me in the hallway and asks what is going on. I explain and
she says, “It’s a good thing you’re here. Barbara Hawk is going to give
her testimony and we have a wonderful speaker.” While I originally did
not intend to stay for the main speaker because of my tight schedule
today, I sense I am to stay for the entire session. Somehow the timing
will all work out.
As I look around the room, I see a large bumblebee balloon near the
speaker’s podium. I am not quite sure what that is about since it is not
yet spring. Jo Howard is the emcee. She introduces Barbara Hawk as
our rst speaker and makes it a point to move the bumblebee closer
40 T hree DIAGNOSIS—THE JOURNEY BEGINS
to the podium. The bumblebee seems very much out of place until
Barbara begins her testimony.
I wonder what approach Barbara will take to share her testimony
about how the Lord has brought her miraculously through stage 4 lung
cancer. Barbara tells us about a writer who overcame many obstacles
and “impossibilities” during the course of her life. The author compares
her life’s successes, as absolutely impossible as they seemed as she was
growing up, to the ight of the bumblebee. According to scientists,
it is physically and aerodynamically impossible for the bumblebee to
y. Yet, in spite of its wings that are structurally too small to lift the
bumblebee’s body, it can and does y. Barbara smiles peacefully as
she tells us we need to “Bee-lieve” God and take Him at His Word
“Bee-cause” He is Who He says He is. Barbara’s closest friends know
that Barbara has chosen the bumblebee to symbolize how God is able
to do the impossible in our lives. The bumblebee has been a source
of encouragement to her over the last several years and her friends
are clearly tickled to have a large bumblebee balloon present during
When Barbara relays details about her walk through this di cult time,
she minimizes any mention of cancer or its symptoms in her life. She
tells us instead about a love a air between two high school sweethearts
– Barbara and her husband, Wilson – that has lasted over 40 years. She
says that Wilson largely laid down his practice as an Orthodontist to
y with Barbara to her many treatments and examinations at the M. D.
Anderson Cancer Center in Texas. I am struck by Barbara’s words and
nd her sweet references to the bumblebee inspiring.
Barbara completes her testimony and is followed by the main speaker.
By the reaction of the audience the speaker is well known to many.
It turns out she is the President of the local Aglow International fel-
lowship. As she speaks, she tells us about her love of shoes. Over
the years she discovered how some shoes are appropriate for one
situation, while others are better suited for others. She tells us God
has given us di erent kinds of shoes to go through di erent situations.
“Ask God what kind of shoes He’s given you.” I think this is a great
idea so I immediately whisper up to God and say, “Lord, what kind of
shoes have you given me to walk through this?” I am convinced He
is going to say “combat boots,” after all this is spiritual combat. Right?
Instead, He answers “Dancing shoes.”
Once again, He has caught me by surprise. Dancing shoes! I chew
on His response for a couple of seconds and realize what He is saying.
I smile at the dearness of this idea. “So, you want me to dance before
You and worship You through this!” What a wonderful idea! I get to
do what I desire most, praise and worship the Lord. What an awesome
way to go through a battle. I am increasingly excited about what He
has for me during this time.
After the meeting, Barbara and other women in leadership positions,
as well as those who believe God for miracles, surround me to pray.
I tell them about the diagnoses of cancer and severe obstructive sleep
apnea; and concerns about being able to breathe during the dental visit.
I share about sinus drainage, coupled with problems with my right nostril
collapsing under “normal” conditions, both of which interfere with my
ability to breathe during regular dental visits. Now, today’s appointment
is expected to take 4 hours. Several gasps are heard from members of the
group as the prayer request registers in their understanding. Suddenly,
they quiet down and begin seeking the Lord for me. They pray for
healing for the cancer and the apnea. They also pray for the ability to
breathe during the emergency dental visit and for peace.
Jo Howard is one of the women who prayed for me. She is wearing
a wonderful silver pin with silver stars and the word “Believe.” It is
whimsical and it makes me smile. I suddenly speak to God with con-
viction in my heart and tell Him I would really like to have a pin
like Jo’s to help me keep my thoughts focused on Him. It would
also open up opportunities to witness and to share with others what
I believe. John G. Lake and Smith Wigglesworth, two wonderful men
of God, walked in powerful healing ministries during the early 1900s.
In recorded sermons, both were emphatic on one point. If they could
get Christians to do just one thing, it would be “Only believe.” I have
taken this up as a cry of my heart. A pin such as this will be a wonderful
opportunity and reminder of what, and in Whom, I believe.
Jo tells me the pins were available at Christmas at one of the local
department stores, but the store ran out of them. I smile and thank her.
A little disappointed, I decide to keep looking until I nd one for me.
I am pleased at the thought of having one of these pins.
42 T hree DIAGNOSIS—THE JOURNEY BEGINS
When I arrive home to change clothes and brush my teeth in prepa-
ration for the emergency dental work, I am surprised to nd Calvin is
on the phone with Rachel. I have to admit, I was extremely relieved
that I would not be home when he told her. I was concerned that
I would not be strong enough to hold back the tears, as I knew this
would make it much harder for her to deal with the news of the
cancer. I am thankful I only have a couple of minutes to do what
needs to be accomplished before I leave again. Calvin sees me.
“Goodbye. See you in a few hours,” I say. Calvin explains to Rachel
that I came in while they were talking and am about to go to the
dentist. Calvin hands the phone to me. “Hi, Baby,” I say. She takes
a second and asks how I am. I let her know I am doing well. There
is no doubt, the news has hit her hard and she is crying. I tell her I
love her and will talk to her soon. I say a silent prayer for the both of
them and leave Calvin to the tough task at hand. I am so thankful for
my husband and daughter. I am even more thankful that God loves
both of them even more than I do and that He has their best interest
at heart at all times.
Going to the dentist is one of my least favorite things in life. Typically,
when I go to the dentist, I struggle a great deal with stu y sinuses and
have to sit up periodically to be able to breathe and clear my throat. I
also strive to relax during the procedure but it is a constant battle.
Today, it is great to discover I am very much at peace and relaxed
as the hours go by. I am not groggy or fatigued from the apnea – the
exhaustion lifted yesterday and has not returned. No, this is de nitely
not fatigue, it is truly a deep, restful peace. I am so at peace I fall
asleep three di erent times during the course of the afternoon while
the dentist works on my mouth. The third time I fall asleep is during
the root canal! Second miracle. What a Savior!
The dentist tells me about the importance of protecting my teeth
during radiation therapy. He explains radiation therapy on the face
and neck signi cantly decreases saliva output. Up until now, saliva
was simply water in my mouth. According to the dentist, saliva has
minerals in it that protects our teeth. Basically, saliva washes over the
teeth as we sleep and restores minerals lost during the day and restores
the enamel. Since my mouth will be generating much less saliva, my
teeth will be extremely vulnerable to tooth decay. The dentist o ers to
prepare a mouth guard to protect my teeth. The plan is for me to brush
my teeth with a special ouride toothpaste, oss, then sleep with the
night guard. Sounds like a good protective measure, so I agree.
What was scheduled as a 4-hour appointment, turns into 7 hours in
the dental chair. A couple hours into the dental work, I become aware
that I am breathing easily through both nostrils. [Later this night, when
I prepare for bed, I check my right nostril. It is once again the same size
as the left nostril. When I breathe in with my mouth closed, the right
nostril does not collapse anymore. God healed my nostril. It may sound
simplistic or silly to some, but I am so very thankful. Third miracle.]
At last I arrive home. I call Rachel to check on her. “Hi, Baby. How
are you doing?” Instead of answering, Rachel asks me, “How are you
doing?” It is a calm and serene moment. I am able to tell her that I am
doing well. “I am not afraid. I know God is with me in this,” I say. “I am
doing much better,” she says, “Now that I hear the peace in your voice.”
I tell her about the keynote speaker at the brunch this morning and
what she said about the shoes. I told Rachel that I had asked God
what kind of shoes He’s given me. “He said He’s given me dancing
shoes. Isn’t that cool?” Rachel responds, “Oh, Mom. If He has given
you dancing shoes, that means that He is leading!” Rachel loves to
swing dance and knows the importance of the male lead. I immediately
picture the Lord dancing with me. As I consider what Rachel is saying,
I understand my role is simply to follow His lead. I do not need to
know the tune or when it will end. I don’t need to worry about what
is coming next. I only need to match His steps, one by one.
Rachel’s strength and resolve, and her commitment to stand with us
in prayer, is obvious in the way she handled herself during the phone
call. I am genuinely blessed and very proud of my daughter. I know
this is tough for her.
44 T hree DIAGNOSIS—THE JOURNEY BEGINS
Throughout the day, the Lord impresses Calvin and me about the
seriousness of our testimony. It is clear we will have to be mindful at
all times as to what message we send through our words, actions, and
declarations to the church in the form of prayer requests and praise
reports. We sense we are to be role models and seek Him for the
words. We wait on Him.
I try to work on a quilting project and decide to turn on praise and
worship music. I cannot stop my mind from speeding down rst one
path, then another. If I think on the cancer, my heart instantaneously
plummets, and I feel like I am falling and spiraling down into a deep,
black abyss that does not end. The instant I think on God, my spirit
is calmed and I am in His presence. It is obvious. The battle is in my
mind, not my body.
I think about what is happening round about and within me. The
thoughts swarm over me and overwhelm me. It is di cult to focus. It
is immediately obvious that there is no man, no facility, no treatment
or center that can heal me. What is happening is too big to put my
mind around. I cannot think it away or change it in any way. I cannot
intellectualize it. It is clear. If God does not heal me, I will not be
healed. I look to God for my healing.
I start thinking about Barbara Hawk and the word the Lord had
spoken to her when she was diagnosed – “Whose report will you
believe?” I know that word applies to me, too, just as it does to
all Believers. “But, Lord,” I ask, “What is Your word for me?” He
answers, “You are my beloved child.” The thought of my Father’s
incredible love comforts me.
It has been a long day. I think about what we will write on the prayer
request in the morning. As news of the diagnosis spread throughout
our local church, the diagnosis has changed in the telling. “Tonsil
cancer” is simply not logical and largely unheard of. Many reports
say I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Many more hear the word
tonsil and say, “You’re kidding me,” and stop listening after that. It is
important the Believers know exactly what the diagnosis is so they
can focus their prayers. It comes to me. I will ll out a prayer request
and a praise report, and have both read together tomorrow morning at
church. I write down what I believe God has given me and show it to
Calvin. Calvin is in agreement and we both have peace.
Calvin and I recognize the fact that many well-meaning people will
come to us once they hear the news. We know those who are grounded
in faith will provide strength and comfort. We also know there will be
those who are shaken and lled with their own fear who will want
to speak to us out of their personal needs. We develop a strategy that
will protect me from those who could potentially trip me up, while
allowing those who will speak strength and encouragement to come
close. Calvin and I discuss how we will keep me focused while he
walks beside, and in front of, me to control physical access to me.
As I sit at the quilting table, thoughts ood my mind about many
things. In an instant, my heart lls with panic. I hear a frantic voice
in my mind that tells me, “You must get everyone you can to pray for
your healing!” I judge the voice. Is it the enemy? No. I realize it is my
esh crying out. I consider what my esh has just said. In this chilling
moment, a seed of strength is in my spirit. I grab hold of the strength,
as small as it is. Lord, I give you permission to release every well-meaning
person who does not hear from you, or who is speaking from fear, from even one
thought of praying for me. Lord, I desire only those who truly know You and
Your Word, and who hear Your voice, to pray for me. Amen.
Again fear comes upon me. This time it is the possibility of losing
my voice. I am an encourager and others routinely comment on how
soothing my voice is and how there is such life in the words the Lord
gives me for them. My heart sinks as these thoughts ll me. I know
what the Lord has spoken over me and how He said He will use me
to further the Kingdom of God. I think about speaking through the
written word, with a mechanical voice, and possibly signing with an
interpreter. As I consider these things, I turn to God and know that
somehow He will give me an even stronger, more powerful voice,
regardless of the outcome. I know this because His name is faithful and
46 T hree DIAGNOSIS—THE JOURNEY BEGINS
true, His promises are “Yea” and “Amen,” because He has called me
to declare His mighty deeds amongst the nations and to preach good
news to the captives.
SUNDAY, JANUARY 25TH
I wake up and a scripture song is playing over and over again in my
mind. We learned the song in the mid-1970s and I have not thought
of it for some time – I don’t have a clue who set it to music. It is
from Psalm 30:11-12:
He has turned my mourning into dancing for me. Put o
He has turned my mourning into dancing for me and has girded
me with gladness.
To the end wherein I shall sing praises to Him and not be silent.
Oh Lord my God, I will give thanks unto Thee forever.
My spirit rises up within me. I am excited. “Oh, God. You just
want me to sing and dance before you through all of this!” He has
surely given me dancing shoes and I will not be silent. Fear of losing
my voice ees from me. The peace is settled in my spirit.
As I enter the church, Jo Howard approaches me with a wide grin
on her face. Her eyes are sparkling and she can hardly contain her joy.
She extends her hand and says, “This is for you.” I look down and she
is holding the silver pin with the stars. It is the beautiful “Believe”
pin she was wearing the day before when I told God I, too, wanted
my own pin so that I could give testimony to Him. Jo said as she was
getting ready for church this morning the Lord spoke to her heart
and said He wanted her to give me her pin. With great delight and
excitement Jo joyfully presents her pin to me as a gift from God. I am
humbled at her faithfulness and God’s desire to delight His children.
With joy, I gladly accept the pin.
I ll out the prayer request and praise report. Both are important. I
make sure the usher keeps the two slips of paper together as he passes
them to the speaker. The youth pastor is leading the service this Sunday.
He announces there is a prayer request from Mary Campbell. He
reads, “Diagnosed with tonsil cancer Wednesday. Diagnosed with severe
obstructive sleep apnea Thursday. Biopsy at the hospital next Wednesday.”
I hear several gasps as he reads the request. The church becomes very
quiet. He follows this with, “And we have a praise report from Mary
Campbell, ‘The Lord has given me dancing shoes. He leads and I follow.
I am equipped, encouraged and excited as I begin this journey.’” The
youth pastor grins widely and says, “Now that’s what it is all about! That’s
what I call faith!” The congregation is stunned. Suddenly, a great shout
of victory rises up, accompanied by thunderous clapping. The people are
excited and looking for the victory. Hallelujah!
As the reports are being read, I see a icker on the overhead screen.
The folks handling the projection booth updated the prayer request
displayed above the pastor’s head. It now reads: “Mary Campbell –
cancer.” My spirit reels in protest. Calvin and I look at each other.
After church we request my name be removed from the overhead. We
have said our prayers and now it is time to praise God for what He has
done, and is doing, in our lives.
We were correct; many come to us after church. We are surprised
because some of those we thought had faith were not equipped for this
moment; while others we did not immediately look to for Godly strength
and encouragement rose up as champions of faith. Those that know and
hear the heart of God speak life into us. Others are devastated and say
the oddest things. I silently give them over to God for Him to touch
and heal their hearts, and ask Him for the ability to love those that speak
out of their own fears and needs. Calvin is diligent and intervenes in his
quiet, yet authoritative way of protecting me. The Lord gives us wisdom
as to which words to receive and which to lay down. Many o er to pray
and stand with us. When each speaks, the Lord impresses upon us which
of them has a word from Him and those that do not. Prayers take on a
new signi cance. From this moment on, I only desire words and prayers
from those who are truly hearing from God.
One of the ladies from church, a sweet friend, comes up and holds me
for a moment. She is thrilled about the praise report. I tell her I can
48 T hree DIAGNOSIS—THE JOURNEY BEGINS
not wait to see what God will teach me through all of this. We are
both encouraged and excited. I am eager to see how God will work
and how His Son will be glori ed.
After church we talk with our friend, Kent who tells us he heard
a man on the radio with a healing ministry. The man said, “Christ is
the big ‘C,’ cancer is the little ‘c.’” From that moment on, the word
cancer has no power over me. Philippians 2:9 states: “For this reason
also, God highly exalted Him [Jesus], and bestowed on Him the name
which is above every name.” There is truly power in the name of
Jesus. In Christ is the victory. Cancer has no hold.
I call Rachel and we talk for a while. It is obvious she is still unwilli