Monday, November 25, 2013


For some years, my husband and I lived in the beautiful Elgin Valley of South Africa, home of Elgin apples and Appletiser®. 

We often traversed the magnificent Houw Hoek mountain pass, about an hour from the city of Cape Town. After leaving the valley with its acres of apple trees, the road ascends at a fairly gentle gradient to the summit. Majestic mountains tower overhead, casting long shadows across the road.

After negotiating a steep U-turn, the road continues down a steep descent to a spectacular valley. It's like entering another world. The farming landscape is dotted with small buildings and grazing cows. And as the mountains slip into the background, the road is often bathed in bright sunshine.

One sunny afternoon, my life journey arrived at just such a pass, only it wasn't beautiful. One minute I was enjoying life as a busy registered nurse and pastor's wife, and the next I hit a U-turn.

"You have cancer," announced a radiologist. "And I don't think they'll be able to get it all out." My life spun out of control as I attempted to negotiate this unexpected twist in the road. God promises in his Word that "in all things God works for the good of those who love him" (Romans 8:28). I had often seen this verse in action, but I admit, I couldn't see how he was going to do it this time.

With the use of a skilled surgeon, an unconventional and courageous oncologist, a supportive family, and many praying friends, God pulled me through a pretty grim year of treatment. At the end of the year, I started the descent into the valley. My future lay spread before me, but it was so different. I could no longer nurse, due to a weakened immune system. What would I do with my life?

I hadn't anticipated being blindsided by cancer, so I had made no plans. But then God had known about the cancer long before I did. And he did have plans.

Suddenly doors opened for me that I would never have anticipated. My hobby of many years turned into a full-time occupation as I began to share in print some of the good things God had done in my life as a result of cancer.

At the time my treatment came to an end, I had no idea how long it would take for my life to get fully back on track. Nor did I realize that when it did, I would be travelling in a different direction. From nursing sister to published author. But then, isn't that what a U-turn is all about? 

Purchase Strength Renewed (print or Kindle)
Rise and Soar Website (encouragement for those in the cancer valley)  


About two years after my cancer treatment ended, I attended a cancer survivors' seminar in Cape Town, South Africa, with my oncologist and some other cancer survivors. Part of the program included a panel of ladies sharing their cancer experiences. I listened in dumbstruck amazement as one after the other gave praise for cancer. That's right. For cancer.

The last woman to speak gripped the mike and blurted out, "Cancer ruined my life!" She dissolved in tears, and a couple of ladies rushed forward to assist her from the stage. One of the leaders got up to explain that the poor woman was only a few months out of her treatment regime, and that it took time to gain perspective on something as drastic as cancer.

"Gain perspective?" I said to my husband when I got home. "She's the only one that made sense! The others are crazy. Sure, I'm thankful God brought me through it, but to be thankful for cancer? Never."

I knew of the promise in Romans 8:28 that "in all things God works for the good of those who love him." But honestly? How could that include cancer?

As I mentioned in my previous post, once my treatment was over, doors started to open for me in the writing field. At the age of 60 years, I flew unaccompanied from Cape Town via London to the United States of America where I attended a writers' conference in Baltimore. The Lord provided finances for the trip in miraculous ways. A few years later, I started work on a book of meditations in which I shared 90 stories of how the Lord blessed and protected me through the journey of cancer.

In 2010, I flew from Johannesburg to attend another conference, this time in Florida, USA. While there, I met an editor who liked my book, and in 2012 it was published by a mainline publisher in the States.

Today, I can see how much richer my life has become because of cancer. I speak at meetings on a variety of topics. But they all bring out the same point. I am thankful for cancer, the lessons I learned and the blessings I received. Would I go through it again? I pray daily that I will never have to. I hated every moment of the journey. Yet I can honestly say I'm grateful for the experience.

I guess I have gained perspective.

Oh . . . one more thing. When Scripture says in Romans 8:28, "in all things God works for good to those who love him"? Yes, that even includes cancer.

Purchase Strength Renewed (print or Kindle)
Rise and Soar Website (encouragement for those in the cancer valley) 

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