Cancer cannot take away joy and hope

- A tribute to Mrs. Xiuqin Z. Xu

Health is important. Even a slight ailment can throw a person off balance and sap his energy. Mrs. Xiuqin Z. Xu was an elderly lady who was terminally ill, but nevertheless was able to persevere and still shared with others the Gospel with a sense of urgency. She only hoped that more would be saved, and that the remaining days of her life would be used to serve the God whom she loved. Not even cancer slowed her down.

Mrs. Xu was born in a small town in Southern China. Ten years after she got married, she took her young children to the provincial capital, Guangzhou, to join her husband where he was assigned to work. Her daughter Bin remembered her as a capable, hard-working and gentle mother, affectionately and meticulously caring for her children and family, sparing no effort in doing her best to be a model mother.

In May of 2010, Mrs. Xu was diagnosed as having terminal pancreatic cancer. Her children all lived either out of state or out of the country. Bin therefore called the Herald Cancer Care, requesting a caregiver be assigned to her to provide support.

Herald Cancer Care’s coordinator Ernest Lam recalled, “I was very privileged to talk to Mrs. Xu on the phone, in an effort to understand her needs. What struck me was how peaceful she was, showing not a trace of fear or sense of helplessness or hopelessness, which is so typical of cancer patients we intake. I had a most wonderful long conversation with her.” Ernest recalled further that Mrs. Xu faced her deadly adversary with peace and hope, with her love for life undiminished. She was full of thanksgiving for her loving relationship with her God. “It was quite evident to me that she knew her God.” Ernest commented.

There was nothing unusual or dramatic about Mrs. Xu’s coming to know Christ. It was a progression, starting from being introduced to the Christian Faith by Bin. After a period of searching and praying, Mrs. Xu and her husband independently put their trust in Jesus and were both baptized in 1996, testifying their joy of being born again.

Bin continued to recall, “My mother was not that much into His Word initially, but after my father’s passing two years later, she became serious in studying the Bible, regretting not doing it sooner. Her diligence paid off, motivating her to make very good progress. She even took discipleship training.”

Mrs. Xu routinely cared for others, constantly praying and petitioning for them. It was shocking to everyone when she was diagnosed as having the very same kind of cancer as her late husband. She did not want to be a burden to her children and voluntarily asked to be moved to a nursing home.

“Normally, most seniors would be dragged to a nursing home kicking and screaming. Mrs. Xu was a conspicuous exception.” Ernest observed. “She was not thinking of herself. She was thinking of the opportunity this would open up for her to share what she referred to as ‘Jesus stories’ to other seniors there. It was not about her, but about the salvation of others. She gladly offered herself to serve God.”

Nora Chung was the Herald Cancer Care volunteer assigned to be Mrs. Xu’s caregiver. She recalled that the nursing home we had in mind for her was full, but somehow, an opening came up and we were able to get her in. “Mrs. Xu was convinced that it was the grace of God.” Nora recalled. She felt that if this opportunity had so obviously come from God, she needed to seize it and help the elderly residents to know God.

Though her health was deteriorating, and the pain caused by cancer was obvious, she pushed forward everyday, seizing every opportunity to get the Good News out, caring and praying for others. She even got together with some staff to study the Bible. She was proactive in greeting visitors and sharing her testimony with them.

Nora observed, “It may not be very obvious to people, but if you were to observe closely, you would notice that she was in great pain in her lower abdomen, always holding a heating pad to ease the pain. However, there was never any moaning and groaning, and never any complaint.” God was sustaining her.

Mrs. Xu was in the nursing home for a few weeks, during which her love of life and her faith in God impressed many residents, and brought hope to them. Although she departed in the same month to be in the bosom of her Heavenly Father, she left behind a glorious testimony that lifted up the spirit of everyone who would listen to her story. Ernest concludes that just as the writer of Hebrews wrote about Abraham, the same may be said about Mrs. Xu, that “by faith she being dead yet speaketh.”

by Natalie Chen, translated by Ernest Lam