The most traumatic experience throughout my fight against breast cancer was the loss of my hair. The threat of having a breast removed didnít alarm me, receding gums and rotting teeth didnít worry me, nor the turning black of my finger nails. The fact that I would lose my hair is what brought tears streaming down my face. I could not face losing my beautiful, naturally curly, shinny black hair with streaks of silver, which my beautician said, ďBaby, with hair like yours you donít ever have to worry about going bald!Ē
My first treatment began in November of 1994. For 40 minutes I sat in a reclining chair with an IV of cell killing drugs flowing through my veins. Throughout the procedure all I could pray was ďLord, please donít let me lose my hair.Ē Every time I presented my petition before the Lord I envision Job sitting in sackcloth and ashes, baldheaded, weeping over his calamities. Iíd respond with a fervent cry, ďPlease-e-e in the name of Jesus, Lord donít let me lose my hair!Ē
Within three weeks of the first treatment my hair began to fall out. Every morning my pillow looked as if it was growing a beard. No matter how gently I combed or lightly brushed my hair, it came out in clumps. At a training seminar two weeks ago, I fought back tears as I tried to divert my attention back to the presenter and away from the falling wisps of hair descending from my head to the floor. The very thing that I feared the most would happen had happened.
With remarkable resilience, I bounced back from the vomiting and stomach wrenching pain I experienced during the first seven days following my first and second treatment of chemo. Yet, every time I looked in the mirror at my balding, and now a completely bald head, Iíd fall apart. I felt so humiliated. The bald head was proof that even though I struggled to be a good Christian, strived to be forgiving, didnít mock or laugh at othersí misfortune, never smoked, drank, or did drugs, I was just as vulnerable to cancer as non-Christians and people who abused their bodies and broke the law. Why? Wasnít I good enough? Had I earned the right not to be sick? Why has this horrible affliction come upon me? What did I do to offend God so, that He would allow this to happen to me? My answer was not long in coming.
Since the side effects of chemotherapy left me often nauseated and extremely fatigued,
my ministry as Praise & Worship Leader had been assigned to others. But last night the pastor asked me to lead devotion before we began our Ministers Meeting. As we started singing the second song, I began to dance before the Lord. The heaviness that had surrounded me earlier had lifted. All I could feel was joy and gratitude for my life. There was increased serge of energy as I danced and sang unto the Lord. In the midst of my praise, whoosh! Off went my wig flying across the sanctuary. With my bald head exposed, I continued to dance and sing. It no longer mattered that my baldness was exposed. I wasnít concerned about what people thought. One of the deacons tried unsuccessfully to withhold his laughter as two elderly female evangelists shouted, ďthatís all right you look better without the wigĒ and ďyou donít need the wig, youíve got nothing to be ashamed about.Ē I heard them and yet I didnít hear them. A peace came over me that I couldnít explain. All I knew from that moment on was that everything was going to be all right.
Today I came across a familiar passage of scripture from the gospel of John I had forgotten. Itís about the man who was blind from birth. Jesusí disciples asked Him was this man blind because of his sins or the sins of his parents. Neither, Jesus replied, but that the works of God might be manifested. As I read that last verse, the words kept echoing in my mind. ď. . . but that the works of God might be manifested . . . but that the works of God might be manifested . . . but that the works of God might be manifested.Ē I perceived that God was telling me, the cancer in my body was not unto death and it was not because I hadnít been good enough, but that God would be glorified as a healer of cancer! I shouted and praised the Lord.
I can now endure this attack on my health with joy knowing that God has selected me to display His power over breast cancer. I will overcome. And because I know Iím going to come out of this a winner, Iím going to shout the victory now!
Ė Anna M. Ashby-Caison
NOTE: In May of 1995, I had surgery for the removal of my right breast. The chemotherapy was discontinued after my third treatment when it was found to have shrunk a major blood vessel to my heart causing coronary heart disease. This October I will celebrate eight years cancer free.
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The dancing, the wig flying, and you continueing to praise the Lord ... powerful! I can almost envision it. Thank you for sharing your testimony but also for telling your story so well. God bless you!!! Donna