My Body Died
“I have been crucified with Christ [that is, in Him I have shared His crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body I live by faith [by adhering to, relying on, and completely trusting] in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me”.
-Gal 2:20, Amplified Version
I have heard some folks call cancer a gift wrapped in thorns. Hmm….I don’t like that kind of gift. No, thank you! I will never call cancer a gift. However, I will call it a trial through which the word of God has become more alive than never before.
Throughout my treatment, certain verses of scripture began to pop up, take on flesh and fuse with my heart. It will be hard for anyone to take them from me at this point. I have tested them, I have handled them, and even Satan knows he will be wasting his precious time to tempt me in those areas.
For example, in Isaiah 43:2, God says:
“When you pass
through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you.
When you walk through fire, you will not be scorched,
Nor will the flame burn you.”(AMP)
Despite the toxicity, in all forms, that came with breast cancer and its treatment, my children are doing well and loving the Lord, my marriage is stronger than ever, TamBo’s Kitchen is soaring, I am not bankrupt from cost of treatment, etc,etc. I can go on and on. Yes, I passed through fire. Oooh!!…excruciating fire! How about when MRSA almost took me out in the midst of treatment! I passed through the fire but I am out more refined, unburnt like the Dothraki Queen J Yes, I just referenced the Khaleesi right there because we seem to forget that some of these Hollywood shows use subliminal reference to scripture. I am the unburnt in the Lord! You are the unburnt in the Lord if the totality of your existence is hid in Christ and in God.
At the height of my battle with depression, one of the things that kept me in the lowest of state was the absence of the physical strength I once wielded and enjoyed. Before cancer, I was unstoppable. By 3 am I was up, ready to hit the ground, spend time with God, go about my business. By 11am, I had ticked off 60% of my to-do list! Girlfriend was rolling. Then came breast cancer, its treatment and my body was ‘bleh’. The aggression of the treatment took so many tolls I felt like a shell of myself. Getting out of bed took grace, strength and courage. I could (and can) no longer lift anything bigger than 10 pounds. I had a physically tasking business to run and I was nothing but a shell of my former self.
One day, while crying to God in prayers, He reminded me of Proverbs 3:5-6. In prayer, the scripture kept ringing. ‘Trust in the Lord with ALL your heart and LEAN NOT on your own understanding (all my ladies trying to LEAN IN take a queue). In ALL your ways, acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your path. In short, the Holy Spirit asked me to surrender the physical strength I once held dear and watch Him do the job. Oh what a sweet moment!! I can never forget that day. I nailed my physical strength to the cross. It died. It is dead. It was my chariot, it was my horse. It was taken away. Its absence was left to keep me down and depressed but God stepped in asking me to depend on a strength I never could imagine.
February is the month of love, romance and all things frisky. The aggressiveness of the treatment destroyed and nuked out all forms of sexual pleasure. Pre cancer, sexual intimacy was pretty good. Hubby knew which spots to hit. Sometimes we would climax at the same time….it was heaven. Here comes cancer and I suffered severe atrophy of the muscles and organs down below. All the mechanism God put in place for pleasure dried up. It became painful and Satan used it as an opportunity to replay some horrible experiences.
I remember talking to my oncologist about having no desire to be touched. I even asked her to warn my husband to leave me alone. Her response was ‘Toyin life must go on after breast cancer. You must look for other ways to enjoy sex and intimacy with your husband. You cannot deny him. Let’s keep the marriage alive.’ My psychiatrist was not even funny at all. Dr. Mendoza was blunt!
‘Toyin, if you are not ready to be a widow, sort it out! Yes the treatment has taken a toll on your sex life but you can revive it’
They both referred me to resources at DFCI and asked me to start using lubricants. Coconut oil, non-hormonal gels, you name it. It was more than the lubricants for me. I just did not want to be touched. What did your girlfriend do? I took it to the Lord in prayer. Oh yes!, God cares about your sex life o….He created it. It is the holiest thing He made in my opinion and see how it has been perverted into a multibillion dollar industry!
With little to no estrogen in my body there had to be other ways to enjoy my life, my marriage and my bed. By God’s help, I discovered other areas of arousal. My shoulders and my back became the soft spot. They compensated for the G-spot. Once I got my massage, I was in a better place. It no longer became the need to climax but an opportunity to be intimate with my husband. I still climax once a month too (yaiy!!!). From nowhere, I might feel like a feline on heat and tell him to drop it! We have also been forced to make our communication skills more effective. Above all intimacy is not just physical. We pray together more (spiritual), we spend time discussing each other’s passions and we are making monthly dates a must. February is going to be dinner and jazz on a cruise!! I can still go for months without the need for sex. With God, it is more quality and not quantity. By His grace, I am able to satisfy my head of state, do it joyfully and enjoy the process.
As a mother, I was told that once you have kids, you start forgetting things. It is nothing compared to after chemo treatment. Your short term memory is chewed! Some patients end up with what is called “chemo brain”. In short, the brain fog can be pretty intense. Your short term memory is compromised. You forget names, you forget where you put stuff, and the list is endless. It is so bad that if I do not write a to-do list, I will not remember. Sometimes, I want to do something and my brain will just go in a haze because I cannot seem to remember. For example, I just remembered the Khaleesi’s name now as Danaerys. I did not remember it couple of paragraphs ago.
Who is compensating for that now? My conscience, my inner witness, the inner voice…. It is no longer my memory really. I remember one morning after I had gotten my lunch bag ready. I forgot to add my smoothie to the bag. I also forgot a document I needed to use later in the day. As I stepped into the car to leave for work, I heard an inner voice say “your smoothie”. I went back grabbed it and was ready to leave. Then I heard another voice say “the document”. I went back grabbed it and just said “Thank you Lord”. In the past I would have fretted and gotten all worked up at not having it together. Those days are gone and DEAD.
It was after this experience that Gal 2: 20 came alive. I have died, crucified with Christ. Everything I once held dear is dead. All expectations are dead. The cares of this world; dead….the former Oluwatoyin, dead!