Life Lessons I Learned From my Grandma: Breast Cancer

Anyone who knows me knows that I have a very special relationship with my grandma.  She and I have had a close relationship all of my life.  We have spent a lot of time together laughing and talking about life.  My grandma turned 90 years old this week, and I believe that she has had an amazing life.  She has experienced many trials during her life, but she has faced them with a smile on her face, joy in her heart, and an unwavering faith in God.  I have learned so much from my grandma, and I believe you can too.  So, I have decided to commemorate her 90th birthday by sharing a few stories about my grandma’s life with you.  I hope these stories will show you how her faith has brought her through the difficult times that she has experienced.  I will be posting everyday this week and every post will be stories of how God has been with my grandma throughout her life.  I believe the stories will help you to see how God can work in all of our lives and how we can achieve peace through every experience we encounter with His help.  Having such a wonderful grandmother in my life has brought me immeasurable peace and PEACE MATTERS.  

Breast Cancer

In 1980, 640,000 women in America were diagnosed with breast cancer. Unfortunately my grandma, Ruth Cutsinger, was among them.  It all started on July 4, 1980.  My grandparents always had a big family reunion at their lake house to celebrate the day.  It was a big event, and my grandparents planned most of the summer for the special day.  My grandma was always very busy in the days leading up to the 4th.  On the morning of the 4th, she was getting ready to start her busy day when she found a lump in her breast.  She was fifty-four years old.  We all know enough about breast cancer to know how terrifying a discovery this must have been for her.  I am sure her mind began to race, and the fear of the unknown set in very quickly.  I can only imagine the thoughts that raced through her mind that morning.  “I can’t be sick”, “I am sure it is nothing”, or “What am I going to do now?” may have been some of the first thoughts she had.  

However, my grandma, being the strong woman she is, went on with her day.  She hosted the party that everyone was expecting, and she was happy, smiling, and laughing most of the day.  After most of the guests had left, my grandma took my mom, Darlene, in the bathroom and showed her the lump.  I can only imagine the fear my mom felt that evening as she realized that her mom might be sick.  I am sure she was gripped with the realization that she may have to give her mom up to this dreaded disease.  However, my mom, being the strong woman she is, rallied around my grandma, and they devised a plan.  My grandma immediately went to see Dr. Fox.  He did some preliminary tests and then scheduled her for a biopsy.  He told her if it turned out to be cancer, they would take care of it while she was under anesthesia.  

The day of the biopsy, my grandma went into the hospital not knowing what her fate was.  She would not know until she woke up.  She could wake to find that the lump was benign and that she was fine, or she could wake to discover that she did indeed have breast cancer.  When my grandma did wake up, her worst fears were realized.  She did in fact have breast cancer and Dr. Fox had performed a radical mastectomy.  He also removed several of her lymph nodes because they showed signs of cancer as well.  It would have been very easy for my grandma to become discouraged and lose faith, but she had been through tough times before, and God had always been with her, so she faced this trial with the same dignity with which she had faced all the others.  

She also faced it with humor.  This is something which my grandma does extremely well.  My mom tells the story of how she was at my grandma’s house helping her recover from her surgery.  My mom made the bed and left one of the pillows off so that my grandma could use it on the couch.  When my grandma walked by the bedroom, she dryly said, “It looks like that bed had a mastectomy.”  When my grandma went to be fitted with a prosthetic, she did so with a sense of humor.  My mom says that she and my grandma laughed uncontrollably that day.  My mom said she sat in amazement watching my grandma.  Here she was a relatively young woman who had just lost her breast and she was laughing and making jokes.  Her actions that day brought my mom a lot of comfort, and my grandma turned what could have been a traumatic day into a good memory that my mom has always remembered.  

God blessed my grandma in so many ways, but he blessed her with a sense of humor that has sustained her through some of her most difficult times.  He blessed her with the ability to smile through the pain and comfort others when she was the one who really needed to be comforted.  In so doing, she received more comfort than anyone else could have given her.  Her positive attitude was contagious, and no one could be sad or worried when they were around her.  God had given my grandma His hope and peace long before she had to endure this newest trial.  He had taught her through example that He was in control and that all she had to do was lay her worries at His feet.  

This is what God wants all of us to do.  He wants us to face each challenge with faith, hope, and peace.  He wants us to trust Him and let Him be in control.  He wants us to comfort others and be an example of what a person who possesses His peace acts like.  Nothing is too big for God and in turn, nothing is too big for us if we have God with us.  He promises that He will never leave us or forsake us, even in our final hour.  He will carry us through the trials in our lives and will give us the peace that will sustain us.  When we have God’s peace, we can truly face anything.  We can face every trial with the knowledge that He is in control and it will make those trials not seem so big and, we will be an example to other people.  Thankfully, my grandma made a full recovery from her breast cancer, and it did not return.  She is 90 years old now and is still living her life with a smile on her face, joy in her heart, and faith in her spirit.  She would face other trials, but her faith would not waiver.  

So, the next time you face a challenge that you think seems too big to overcome, think of my grandma.  Put a smile on your face, make a joke, and have faith that God is in control.  Believe that all things are possible through Him and let Him lead the way.  It will bring you peace even in your darkest hour, and PEACE MATTERS.