Friday, November 13, 2015

How Cancer Has Shaped My Faith

Diana Focht (left) has become such a support to me at my concerts and in my music.
I received an e-mail this week from my friend, Diana Focht, who has become a support to my life and my music in so many ways.  She oversees the product table at my concerts as often as possible (which you see her doing in the picture above).  

However, Diana has her own story to tell and when she sent me this article, written for another blog, I asked her if I could share it with you. 

How Cancer Has Shaped My Faith

by Diana Focht

No one wants to hear the word, cancer, associated with them, but when it comes, you have a choice to make. Do you give in to the hopelessness and despair of a cancer diagnosis, or do you look upward, and cling to a God who has promised to never leave you nor forsake you!   

A verse I've known most of my life, but one that became extremely important to me not only while undergoing treatment for cancer, but more so in the "lost days" after treatment, is Hebrews 11:1 - Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see! 

Can we hope for an end to our cancer and be sure about it?! Can we really be certain that God not only sees us in our times of trouble, but that He loves us enough to carry us through it?! In faith, can I trust that God has a plan and purpose for my cancer?!

Faith. Sometimes it's a hard word to define, and often times, it's an even harder word to live out! We talk of a faith in God. We hear of a saving faith. But when I was going through my cancer, I wanted a healing faith! I wanted a faith that could believe that God would physically heal me of my cancer. I prayed for it. My family and friends prayed for it. A multitude of strangers from around the country prayed for it. I was anointed and prayed for not once, or twice, or three times, but four times. 

My faith was riddled with doubt, because nine years earlier, I watched my Dad take his final breath, after battling cancer for three short, agonizing months. I wanted a healing faith for him, but it didn't come. At least not the way I wanted it to. My faith was shaken for the longest time.

Three months and four chemo rounds into my cancer treatment, my doctor ordered a CAT scan to check the progress of the chemo. The results were not the results she was expecting, and she was ecstatic! The CAT scan results showed no evidence of disease. When I asked her if these results were normal or abnormal for an individual battling stage 3 endometrial cancer, who had only undergone 4 rounds of chemo, without hesitation, she said it was abnormal. At that point, I acknowledged what I had been sharing with her from the beginning…that God had healed me of the cancer! It was a tremendous time of rejoicing and celebration! My faith meter was sky high!

Two days later, I was called into the HR Director's office at work. My company had experienced a downturn in business and had been laying people off weekly. I knew what this visit meant, but even after being told my employment would end in two weeks, my faith was still soaring. 

I still had one more chemo treatment, which was scheduled to take place after my employment, and my health insurance, ended. The Lord prompted me to ask the company to extend my health insurance to cover the last chemo treatment, and through a chance encounter with our company's COO, I believe the Lord softened their hearts to show me mercy and they extended the health insurance for 30 days. I was still on a "faith high"!

Little did I know at that time, it would be 12 long months before I was once again employed full-time. 

What followed was a move back to my home state of Pennsylvania and a roller coaster ride of emotions, disappointments, discouragement, fear, doubts, uncertainty, indecision, name it. I entered a phase where I just felt lost. The cancer was behind me, but I wasn't the same person, in many ways. I couldn't find my "new normal". I was scarred physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually from the battle I had waged for six months. 

My faith took a tumble.

God in His mercy and grace, placed individuals in my life to carry me through these lost days. They encouraged me and lovingly nursed me back to spiritual health. 

One individual just loved on me and showed me what compassion looks like in human form. 

Another individual, who had gifted me with a Compassion Bag, became a trusted friend and a spiritual mentor. 

An individual, whom the Lord had brought back into my life right before the cancer diagnosis, modeled for me an authentic faith that lives out the peaks and valleys in our Christian walk. 

And finally, He brought an individual whose music brought to me peace and hope, and it raised me up.

God had a plan and a purpose for my cancer, and that was to draw me into a closer walk with Him. The testing of our faith is to result in us looking more and more like Jesus. I am not the same person I was before the cancer diagnosis. Not because the cancer changed me, but because God changed me!   

My musical friend sings a song that has become an anthem to me about faith. Read the words she sings:

It’s believing the impossible 
Seeing the invisible
Dreaming bigger than you’ve ever dreamed
It’s listening to His still small voice 
It’s letting your heart make the choice
It’s standing at the edge of what could be
It’s reaching through the shadow of a doubt
That’s what faith is all about

Being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see! That is what faith is all about!