A Purposeful Life

I was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer in November 2012 that occurs to 20% of the Southeast Asian women who don’t smoke of which I am one. At that moment, the mutating cancer cells have pervaded over 8 areas of my body and one tumor was the size of a baseball and my doctor gave me only 24-72 hours to live on that day. I was ready to let go but my husband was very sad and wanted me to fight it. With three teenagers still in the house, I prayed to a God that I claimed to know 10 years ago but had been lukewarm all these years. And God pulled me through. After 10 sessions of radiation and being put on an oral targeted drug, my cancer receded every month. I was joyous and thankful to the Lord. I understood that the Lord was keeping me alive for more reason than just letting me spend more time with my family. He has created a thirst in me for Him and the Word. I passed most of my days studying the bible, going to bible courses, attending bible study groups, reading Christian books, visiting the sick and fellow cancer patients, and talking to others I meet casually in the street what God has done for me.

Then in October 2013, the cancer started returning. The oncologist and I knew that the drug was losing its effectiveness as it was the usual course of things (1 year on average). By December, I wasn’t processing food well and was losing weight quickly again. I finally decided that I had enough of the drug. Even though my oncologist has a second option drug and chemotherapy available for me, I opted not to take them. I was tired of being sick and tired of worrying about being sick. I gave myself all to the Lord and let Him handle the rest of my time. In mid-January 2014, I went 100% drug free. By the grace of God, He continued to hold me up healthily. I could swim 20 laps, walk 45-90 minutes around a marsh trail every day, and continue to work for the Lord.

Never once since I gave up the drug had I thought about cancer again. The peace and happiness in me are immeasurable and there is no longer this death sentence on top of my head that used to keep hounding me with doubts as to whether the drug was working, how fast the cancer was growing, or how fast was I dying or defeating thoughts as such. There is no need to worry about these things for my time is in His hands. When He says it is time, I would not be a second late. But until then, I have a lot of work to do. I have to nurture my family so that they will come to know the Lord. I have to share this peace and happiness with other cancer patients who are suffering from fear and hopelessness. I have learnt that through these months, without hope, one would be stalled by fear. If you look at the testimonies of many Holocaust survivors, they had to have hope whether it was the hope of reuniting with their family or making their suffering meaningful or else, their life would have been meaningless. For me, my hope lies not just in eternal life for myself, but grabbing as many people as I could to heaven with me for that is the sole purpose of our life: Honor your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might, and love your neighbor as you love yourself.

I am thrilled to come across Herald Cancer Care for their goals are exactly mine too and I look forward to becoming a competent volunteer.

Sandra Li-Pham, March 2014