My name is Sarah Gosnell and I was diagnosed with leiomyosarcoma, which is an extremely rare cancer of the smooth muscle.
I have a history of worrying, which has been handed down in Olympic proportions through the generations of my family. I have nurtured and fed this little gift well across the years. There are many, many things that I have worried about, and envisioned happening, all in a thinly veiled attempt to control my life. However, cancer was not on my radar.
I have had a relatively clean bill of health all my life, never smoked, no drugs ever, don’t drink alcohol. Have been a vegetarian since I was a teenager. Try to stay stress free and calm as much as possible. No cancer in my family before the age of 70. No genetic cancer mutation. So to find out that I had cancer — especially one that I knew nothing about — was a complete shock. All of my world class worrying had done no good to stop the cancer, but the worrying did invade my peace and steal my joy during the good times.
He said, “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”
And in this turmoil I prayed, and was prayed over, and asked for God to take it away, dissolve it, don’t make me do this. Don’t let it be cancer. And through tears and prayers and anguish, He came to me in gentleness. In my spirit I felt that He was leading me to be prepared to hear that it was cancer. Not that He couldn’t remove me from this path, but that this was the path He was asking me to walk.
At first I wanted to just lie down and stop walking. But then I felt a peace. And I told my husband and family, so they would be ready and know that God was already with me, and to not be angry.
He said, “And surely I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
Looking for help and answers. Afraid, but then He is with me. Wishing my life was normal again, but feeling His presence and peace as a plan is laid out for chemotherapy. Looking at my shampoo bottle in the shower and wondering how much longer I will need that, or if I will ever need it again at all.
Chemotherapy comes with a type of suffering that is difficult to describe, and a feeling that I can’t do this. Tears as I am beginning to be broken down physically and emotionally. Looking at myself in the mirror and not being able to recognize myself. Vomiting, and being in bed far more than I ever wished. Crawling on the floor to the bathroom at night. Knowing that God is near, even when the pain makes it difficult to feel Him. Choosing to trust Him even when I just want to escape the pain. Allowing others to hold me up in prayer and to accept help, when I was used to being the one giving the help.
I remembered, “Even though I walk in the valley of the shadow of death, You are with me. Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”
Learning how to take each day for the gift that it is. Not getting hung up on the question of how many more, or what else are You giving me. Just thank You for today.
He is teaching me to trust His plan, to walk blindfolded but holding His hand. To accept the perfect peace that He offers, and lay down useless anxiety whenever it comes up. To reach my hand out to those climbing this mountain of cancer with me, and give them a boost, too, whenever I can. To choose joy over fear. Because He said so. Because He can be trusted. He is teaching me to live different than my first 30 years.
I recall, “Surely goodness and mercy will follow me ALL THE DAYS of my life.”
I hear, “You go behind me and before, and lay Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, to great for me to understand! Where can I go from Your spirit?”
Eight days after surgery recovering in the hospital. No food for seven of those. Pain and confusion and a new kind of suffering. Learning to stand and walk again. And then the miracle of being held up by a thousand prayers. And the miracle of being told about clean margins, no cancer left behind.
Seeing the truth that when I can do nothing — not even pray — God hasn’t stopped being with me or working on my behalf. That it really doesn’t depend on my power, which is good because I have none left.
Beautiful and undeserved gifts in the middle of pain. And getting to go home and see my family — more beautiful gifts. In the slow recovery and sadness of physical limitations after surgery, I am learning to look to Him for my hope. To not put hope in my physical abilities or a certain outcome, but in the Lord alone. To not worry about the future but love Him above all as the highest prize. I have been changed and pressed down by God, learning to trust in Him above all else. Loving mercy and grace given to me by God and sharing it as much as I am able.
He said, “See, I have refined you, though not as silver. I have tested you in the furnace of affliction. For My own sake, for My own sake, I do this. How can I let myself be defamed? I will not yield My glory to another.”