Several years ago, in January of 2000, while nursing the fifth of my five children, I discovered a lump under my left arm.  Not thinking too much of it, I put off going to the doctor for over a month only to eventually discover that I had breast cancer.  I went the standard route: lumpectomy, chemotherapy and radiation.  Although the pathology report showed that this was one of the deadliest and most aggressive of the breast cancers, I believed that it was a temporary thing and God would heal me.
Fifteen months after treatments ended, I began to have pain in my right hip.  I went to the chiropractor, and both of us thought it was probably a sciatica thing.  However, my gynecologist yelled at me, “What are you doing?  You have five children.  Check that out immediately!”  Well, he was right, and it turned out that the breast cancer had metastasized to my hip bone.
After radiation treatments, I had a hole in the hip the size of a golf ball.  “It will take 1-2 years for this to come off the x-rays,” I was told.  Six weeks later, the initial x-ray didn’t show the slightest abnormality!  God had healed me in a miraculous way.  I told my story repeatedly, testifying to the goodness of God.
The summer of 2006, I began to have back and neck problems.  In fact, I could barely sleep because of the pain in my neck.  I had to hold the back of my neck when going from a sitting to a reclining position and vice versa.  My oncologist told me to get a bone scan, but they were unable to properly inject the nuclear meds in my overused blood veins so I walked out.  When I called the doctor’s office to tell them, my message got somehow mislaid.
In August, just before my husband, Steve, and I took our oldest son, Joshua, to college, I went again for a bone scan.  It showed nothing.  Relieved, we left for Pennsylvania, convinced that I probably had a slipped disc or some such thing.  By now, my neck didn’t really hurt but my lower back did. When we returned, I had an MRI which, in direct contrast to the bone scan, revealed fractured vertebrae and cancer in my lower spine.  Within a few weeks, I was in such intense pain that I started radiation treatments.
  My neck pain had abated considerably since June (it was now September), but my husband Steve said, “You should tell the doctor about your neck and get an x-ray.”  So I did.  Later that afternoon, the doctor called me in a panic.
“Get a cervical collar immediately,” he urged.  “You have two fractures in your neck and are at risk of severing your spinal cord and becoming paralyzed!”
That was on a Thursday.  Friday, I went for an MRI. On Monday, after an encouraging weekend spent with friends who prayed for me, I went to a neurosurgeon in Syracuse. After looking at the MRI report, he said that I had cancer in every vertebrae in my back and neck and that I was too fragile for surgery.  He prescribed a stiff, plastic neck brace and told me to wear it 24 hours a day, only removing it for showering. “You’re in danger of severing your spinal column and becoming paralyzed,” he warned, reiterating what my other doctor had said.  “Maybe in a couple of months we can operate, but you’ll be in the neck brace for at least two months after surgery once we do that.”  He quickly showed us to the door. We could tell that he thought I was dying.
On the drive home from Syracuse, I tearfully declared to Steve,  “Let’s not only seek God to heal this cancer; let’s also trust him for a new spine and neck.  The Lord will be my surgeon, not a man.”
The next six weeks brought intense suffering but also significant blessing.  Friends and family rallied around.  Much prayer went forth.  The Lord told me again and again, You will not be paralyzed.
At the end of October, Steve and I traveled to Capon Springs, West Virginia for a spiritual retreat camp where he was one of the speakers. The spirit-filled campers took me into their hearts and prayed continuously.  On Wednesday afternoon, prior to the evening service, I was about to take one of my six daily necessary oxycodone pain pills when the Lord spoke to me.
Why are you taking that?  Are you in pain?
I thought about it.  No, I really wasn’t, not at the moment.  “No, I’m okay,” I answered.  I thought that this was the Lord’s way of ramping me down off of the pain pills and figured that maybe I could decrease them slowly.
That night, during the evening service, they wrapped me a shawl which had been prayed over and then the whole assembly stood and raised their hands toward me, praying for healing.  It was an amazing experience to be the focal point of over one hundred people with their hands raised toward God.
When I returned to my room, I got in bed with the neck brace on, as usual.  But for the first time in six weeks, it annoyed me and I was unable to sleep.  The Lord spoke to me.  You can take that off.
“But Lord,” I argued.  “What if I damage my neck while I’m asleep?”
I have healed your bones, He answered.  You will not be paralyzed.
That was the last time I wore the neck brace.  He also told me to stop using the cane, which I put away for good.  And you know what?  I never took another pain pill!
Once I returned home, I continued with my weekly chemotherapy sessions for another four months. At the end of February, 2007, my skeptical oncologist who had told me there was no foreseeable end to chemo for my advanced cancer, said to me, “You’ve been telling me you’re healed.  I’ll make you a compromise: I’ll take you off all chemotherapy.”
I stared at him in disbelief.  This was a compromise?  I felt like I had won the lottery.  “Really?” I breathed.
“You’ll tell me if you’re in pain, won’t you?” he said, sternly.  “You wouldn’t lie to me, would you?”
“Of course not,” I hastily assured him.
When I exited the exam room, two of the nurses gathered around me.  “What did he say?” they asked.  After I told them, they screamed and hugged me.  I could tell this didn’t happen all the time.
God had blessed me through the long process of chemotherapy as well.  One of my friends shared the scripture from Mark 16:18, which says, “when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all.”  So every time I went to chemo, I would pray that over myself.  You know what? That is just what happened.  I went through months of weekly chemo with virtually no side effects.  I even kept all my hair!
We serve an awesome and wonderful God, One who heals and delivers.  Not only has the Lord rescued me from death, He has also opened up new paths before me in the kingdom of heaven.  Both Polished Arrows and Yohana are gifts from his hand. He has given me a hope and a future.
“I will tell of the kindnesses of the Lord,
the deeds for which he is to be praised,
according to all the Lord has done for us -
yes, the many good things he has done
for the house of Israel,
according to his compassion and
many kindnesses.”  
                            Isaiah 63:7 (NIV)