My doctor seemed to hesitate, before pressing on the area again. Fear kept me from saying anything. When he moved on I breathed a sigh of relief. The lump I’d felt must be nothing.
Yet, I didn’t feel at peace about it.
A few months later, I sat on my bed chatting to my sister-in-law on the phone.
“I’m not sure if I’ve got a lump in my breast,” I said. “Go and get it checked immediately,” she replied.
So I did.
I called my doctor first thing on the Monday morning. He sent me for a mammogram the next day.
“I’m sure it’s nothing to worry about,” I told my husband about to fly across the country to California. “You go on your business trip.”
So as I slipped my arm back into the hospital gown after the technologist had finished taking pictures, I wasn’t too worried. So far, everything seemed routine.
Then she came back. “We’re going to do an ultrasound,” she explained, “down the corridor to the left.”
I clutched my clothes tightly to my chest as I walked into a waiting room crowded with men and women, trying not to feel self conscious about my half-naked body under the gown.
As I lay on the bed in the small room and wiped the gel off my skin with a towel, waiting for the doctor.
The only words I heard her say, as she sat down beside me, were: “no biopsy, you must have surgery straightaway.”
Tears welled up in my eyes. “I need to call my husband,” I said, my voice shaking. Yet when I heard him speak, I couldn’t get any words out. “Can you tell him,” I sobbed, handing the phone to the doctor.
In the sanctuary of my car, I broke down.
I let tears flow as shock from the news and fear of the unknown covered me like a cold blanket.
I had cancer. What kind of surgery would I need? How long would I have to live? Who would care for my three children?
I felt so alone. My husband was 3,000 miles away to the west and my family was 3,000 miles in the opposite direction across the Atlantic in England.
Yet, I had a spiritual family who could help me.
When I got home, I called my pastor and asked her to pray for me, along with the women’s prayer team.
When we feel unable to fight for ourselves, we need other people to be strong for us.
And, I had a Heavenly Father.
How to fight fear with prayer.
I had learned to spend time with him during the mundane moments. I regularly went to the track in my town to walk and talk with God. It had been a habit for a long time.
So, it was natural to turn to him in a crisis and believe He was still by my side.
We need to put down roots when the sun shines so we can stand when the storms come. It’s easier then.
Not that I now found it easy to endure or to pray eloquently, but I tried.
Throughout my treatment, I kept up the practice of going to the track when I could.
When butterflies agitated my stomach because of another hospital visit, I’d walk and whisper to God: “I’m scared.”
When worry was my constant companion, during those early weeks of multiple biopsies, I’d remember scripture promises if we pray our anxiety will be replaced by peace.
When I heard the birds chirping cheerfully in the bushes beside the track, I’d be reminded: Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? (Matthew 6:26-27) Although this thought had difficulty finding its way from my head to my heart.
When my breathing and footfalls were heavy, I’d think about how Jesus prayed when He was burdened. His anguish poured out like drops of blood to the ground.
When my anxiety did not subside, I realized Jesus experienced the same. When He was deeply distressed and troubled, He returned to prayer three times.
It’s comforting to know that in His humanness, Jesus experienced the same anxiety and fear as we do.
When I thought about family, friends, and people at my church—even those I didn’t know well—who had surged into action and poured out prayers I could not express, I recalled how Jesus wanted his friends to pray, but they fell asleep.
So, like Jesus, I fought my fear by channeling my despair into prayer. I invite you to do the same.
Rachel is a British-born writer and speaker. She is passionate about helping women know their true worth so they can live boldly. Raised on the east coast of England, she now lives in New England with her husband. They have three college-aged children. Rachel cannot live without English tea and chocolate. She has been cancer-free for four years. You can connect with Rachel at rachelbritton.com, on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram
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