The Good Fight – Part 6
Cancer is here for a while. Life seemed like it was going to change. Everyone who needed to cry cried. My father was in shock for days. My siblings were perturbed. My husband had many questions for God. As a pastor, he was shocked he did not see this coming. My children cried. I cried.
As I tried to process the report, I had to determine in my heart that cancer was NOT going to dictate my life. It was not going to affect me as a child of God, a wife, a mother, a career woman, an entrepreneur or whatever way I chose to define myself. Come what may, with the Lord on my side, I will fight to the finish.
I had no other options. Option A was God, option B was God, option C was God. I had to hold on to God like never. Anytime I went before Him during my quiet time, I would remind Him and thank Him that I was only walking through the valley of the SHADOW of death. This was not unto death. This was not my death sentence. This was not how I was going to leave my husband and children. Cancer was not going to prevent me from achieving purpose.
I was born jaundiced. My bilirubin level was so high I should have died at birth. It took three blood transfusions and intense phototherapy for me to live. Thus, if God allowed me to live despite the numerous complications surrounding my birth, He was not going to allow cancer to take me down. That was testimony 1.
During my first appointment with the surgical oncologist, she expressed her surprise at the fact that it was the tiniest lump that I discovered. She still did not understand how I did not feel my lymph node grow. Right there, the Lord mentioned that he sent an angel to ‘claw’ the breast; all the health pointers and agitation I felt about my health were from Him. It was God’s way of ensuring I would not be careless with my health. Testimony 2.
These two were enough for me to hold on to. After all, the Bible says ‘and they overcame by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their TESTIMONY”. I was not sure what the treatment options would be prior to seeing the oncologist. I also refused to go on an internet search about cancer, treatment options and chemo side effects. I did not need that yet. I needed to settle things with God. I needed to prepare myself for healing. Bombarding myself with information overload was not the answer.
There were three major steps that I took. I called them pre-treatment cycles.
Pre- Treatment Cycle 1: Putting my spirit, soul and body in order
Man is a three part being. The real man is a spirit, who has a soul and lives in a body. The 5 foot, 6 inches, 185 pounds casing that I move around is just a ‘house’. A casing for the real me; my spirit; the sub-conscious. Since my spirit is the one that communicates with God (God is spirit; we must worship Him in spirit and in truth), it needed to be strengthened for this journey. It needed to be in a place where it wanted to fight and live. The real Oluwatoyin must live. The real Oluwatoyin must fight the good fight of faith. I began to bombard my spirit with scripture. My time of morning devotion became time of praise and worship, thanksgiving and recanting of God’s goodness throughout my life’s journey. If my spirit being was connected to the Holy Spirit, it was easy to command my mind and body to be healed. As long as the life of God was flowing through my spirit to my soul, my body had no choice but to align. Cancer cells had to respond to the word of God.
I began to speak the word of God over my situation; ” I am healed. I have the life of God. My body is the Lord’s temple. The word of the Lord heals me from every infirmity. I am redeemed from sickness and disease.” I took the communion daily. I anointed myself daily. This preparation came in handy when the dark moments and test of faith began to surface.
Pre-Treatment Cycle 2: Surrounding myself with people of faith
The battle with cancer is not a solo fight. I have heard of folks try to do it alone. No one can do it alone. You have to have at least one person standing with you. The treatments, the appointments, the side effects, the emotional trauma, the thought of financial breakdown, and many other fiery darts can leave a cancer patient dead before death comes knocking. Cancer diagnosis for some is still a death sentence. It does not have to be that way if you surround yourself with people who can stand with you in prayers of faith. It is not just any prayer, but prayers backed by faith in God and His Word.
I love my father, but at some point, I stopped communicating with him. He was so fearful it began to rub off. The only vibes I could get from him were worst case scenarios. Satan had planted Aunty Jumoke’s memory right there in his heart. That was his judgement of the situation without seeing me. He thought I would have degenerated and become vegetative!
I only shared the diagnosis with those who could stand with me in faith and praise God on my behalf. I was not looking for pity. I was not looking for therapy. I needed those who could affirm the word of God on my behalf. There were many of them.
I cannot but mention Apostle Oseasdeba Saint Ekoh at this junction; a true spiritual father indeed. From the moment, he heard of the diagnosis, he called me every evening to share the word of God with me and pray with me. He went the extra mile to get me healing sermons by Kenneth E. Haggin. God bless Apostle Mary Oyomire – my mother in the faith. She did not relent in sending me scripture nuggets for daily survival. Like a mother, she showered me with the word. She cleansed me with the word. My husband’s sisters were enlisted in the army. The Adewumi wives (my sisters-in-law) held a prayer chain every Saturday connecting from Ghana, Nigeria and the USA. My church family prayed. A host of other people of faith were bombarding heaven on my behalf.
I was not afraid to share with people of faith. I did not share with just anyone. Like I mentioned, I was not looking for pity. I needed folks who could praise God and petition Him on my behalf. Paul the apostle was not afraid to solicit prayers from the churches he planted. Who was I not to need other people’s prayers? To be honest there were days I could not pray. All I could do was sit in His presence and be quiet. There were days I could not sing. All I could do was hum. In those moments, I had a comforting assurance that I was not alone. I knew God was being petitioned on my behalf. I laid still in those moments.
Pre- Treatment Cycle 3: Putting my house in order
Every side comment I had heard about cancer and cancer treatment was not positive. Loved ones of cancer patients may not be carrying the illness, but they are also going through the emotional roller coaster. To prevent my home from falling apart, the first thing my husband and I had to do was get an in-house care giver. One of my major stressors was child care. Since I was not sure of what side effects the treatment will bring, I needed help ensuring my children were not slipping with school work. I needed help ensuring they were still well fed. In short, I did not want their life altered by Cancer. I also needed my husband by my side. I needed my husband to be less stressed so he could work and not lose his job. He carried the medical insurance.
Help came in the form of my second cousin Oluwadarasimi (Dara). She was God sent at the right time. The last time I saw her was 21 years ago. We were both young; more like kids. Her nickname was ‘Dara ti o ki n j’ata’ (Pepperless Dara). She could not stand pepper and hot sauces. When she ate rice at the time, it had to be with ketchup. My aunt (her mom) thought she was coming to help at TamBo’s. When Dara and I met, I swore her to secrecy. No extended family, including her mom was allowed to know unless I said so. My parents did not want their siblings to know. I respected their wishes. Besides, I was not quite happy with what I met when I went to Nigeria after 15 years. Dara obliged my request, she moved in immediately and the care began. My children loved her at first sight. She became a big sister they never had. It was a perfect match made in heaven.
Help also came in the form of our family friend; the Sules. They made themselves available when possible for school pickup and drop-off.
We were not afraid to leverage technology as well. Uber came in handy! God bless the inventors of Uber. There were moments my husband had to travel for work. It coincided with the week I had received chemotherapy or moments my husband was too overwhelmed to drive or nobody was available to help. Uber drivers were there to take the children to school. Uber was available for hospital appointments. Uber was available to deliver veggie juices and other survival foods I ate during treatment. Again, God bless Uber!