A Healed Heart

I read the thermometer: 104.7 I was in desperate trouble.

As a breast cancer survivor I’d recently undergone reconstructive surgery. Finally finished with chemotherapy, radiation and a full year of IV Herceptin therapy, I had begun the reconstruction process seven weeks earlier. A surgically-placed implant was injected with more saline each week in an attempt to stretch the skin. Only radiation had decreased the elasticity of the flesh. A few days earlier, stitches had proved necessary to reinforce an opening surgical site.

Now, a high fever.

Time to call the doctor and rush to the hospital. Met in the ER by the on-call physician, a simple blood test confirmed infection. I needed surgery stat. If the implant remained, the infection could go septic and my life would again be threatened.

After surgery I was hospitalized for five days, the longest confinement of my cancer experience. I had my own room on the oncology floor and generally only saw the nurses once per shift. After two days of constant IV antibiotics and near-continuous sleep, I awoke.

I recollected what happened.

“God, how can this be? The doctors said the mastectomy was necessary. I’d never dreamed I’d lose that. But I hoped after reconstruction I’d look normal.” With tears streaming down my cheeks, I stared at the pale hospital wall.  “I’m only 34!”  Now it had failed. What I anticipated rectifying the effects of cancer on my body, on my appearance, on me, had failed. Now the only option left was for me to gain thirty pounds and have a procedure requiring six months recovery.

I knew I’d never opt for it. I had three daughters ages 11,7, and two. I’d already lost two years with my family, stolen by cancer, no way I’d voluntarily surrender more.

God,” I cried, shaking and sobbing alone in my hospital room, “I know You’ll redeem this. I just can’t imagine how.” I stared ahead, trying to comprehend it all. “But You will find a way somehow, some way; You’ll use this for good.”

You are fearfully and wonderfully made. Man may judge by appearance, but I judge by the heart,” Scripture burned in my brain. “Your heart is beautiful,” His voice whispered into a mind struggling to comprehend such a concept.

I sobbed all afternoon, praying, “God help me fully trust You.”

As a girl who’d never thought she measured up in the physical appearance department, I needed God’s love more than ever.

I couldn’t imagine how He could help me.

               I couldn’t imagine what He might do.

I can’t believe what He did!

               Over the next two years, slowly, about the same rate as my hair re-growth, God built my confidence in ways I’d never known. I studied entire books of the Bible, breaking down verses, memorizing them and applying them.

I took greater interest in fashion, dressing modestly, enjoying fun colors and cute clothes.

But the biggest change? I clung to Jesus. I repeatedly asked Him to change me on the inside so I could be a positive, faith-filled mentor to my girls. That I would slowly shape into the Stefanie He envisioned when He knit me together inside my mother’s womb. I learned His unconditional love, and I felt beautiful, basking in His presence.

It’s been seven years since that fever. My curly hair’s half-way down my back. You’d never guess by appearance I’m a cancer-survivor.

It took losing a piece of my physical body to yield to Jesus to make me spiritually whole. I gained confidence in Him, as He’s molding and shaping me. I am beautiful to Him, and surprisingly I really don’t miss that anymore. The personal relationship I have with Jesus, that soul satisfaction, is what consumes me, not the incessant thoughts of what I can do, should do, to look better.

I never would have written that journey, but I’m so thankful He authored the outcome: I now understand what it is to be truly and completely loved.

 

4 thoughts on “A Healed Heart”

  1. So glad to read the rest of this piece of your story, Stefanie! Thanking the Lord He used event hat to make you more whole in Him and draw you nearer to Him. God is amazing. Thanks for testifying to His goodness and faithfulness! Nice to meet you via Purposeful Faith : )

    1. Hi Bethany,

      Thank you for your comment and for testifying with me. So nice to ‘meet’ you too! It is such an encouragement to see talented people like yourself using your gifts to God’s glory. Thank you for stopping by, have a blessed weekend! Stefanie Lynn

  2. Thank you for your testimony how God uses trusting in Him to bring about his abundant life. It is very encouraging to this tired women you doesn’t fight though chemo again.

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