Heart

Breast Cancer Awareness: The Scars Left Behind

After my Double-Mastectomy

Many mornings, I awaken with music in my head. A worship song will break through my foggy brain before my feet hit the floor, to carry me to the coffee. Several mornings this week, the song, “Scars,” by I Am They, woke me. I hope before reading further you will hear that song and read the complete lyrics by clicking here: Scars

            I admit when the song first came out I sang loud in the car, “I’m thankful for the stars.” Gulp! Instead of scars. I imagine God shook his head because I’d sounded like an astrologer. Can I get an “Amen” that I’m not the only one who does this from time to time?

            The month of October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Breast cancer leaves many scars. The latest statistics are, one woman in 8 will receive the news in their lifetime they have breast cancer, every two minutes a woman receives a breast cancer diagnosis, and every thirteen minutes a woman in the United States dies from breast cancer. 

Pretty alarming.

            Last month I received two phone calls from women in their mid-thirties who have both received the news no woman wants to hear. By the second call—which came not even two weeks from the first— I heard my cousin’s wife say, “I’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer.” After sharing with her the message I’m sharing with you today, I cried it out on my husband Jay, “I’m so sick of cancer!”

            Like in the movie, Twister, when Helen Hunt’s character feels tornados target her, that’s my feeling on cancer. Cancer stole my sister’s life in 2014 after a four-year battle before taking my own breast four years later. I know something about scars because mine run deep. Physically my double mastectomy has dug train tracks through my flesh from my armpits to my breast. It’s marked me for life. Although, the physical scars are much easier to deal with. The tracks that slice through the heart from loss take longer to heal. 

No Cancer in Lymph Nodes!

            Looking back though, I’m so thankful for the scars. It took scars for me to love God like I do. It is through the trench cutting I’ve learned His still, small voice that I’ve come to depend on. I’ve felt Him lean into my life when all seemed hopeless. It is the scars that have knocked me down on my knees and humbled me. It is the scars that have made me realize my need for my Heavenly Father. It’s changed me from “I am woman, hear me roar” to “I am woman who’s in love with a Savior, and I’m nothing without Him.”

Fanny Crosby:

There was another woman who was thankful for her scars. Her name was Francis “Fanny” Crosby. Fanny Crosby was born in 1820 in New York. At six weeks old Fanny developed an eye infection. Due to the fact their doctor was out of town at the time, her parents found help in another. He made a hot mustard poultice to place over her eyes. (Can you imagine?) This treatment caused her to become blind. Later, her parents realized the doctor was just a traveling quack, who took money claiming to be a doctor. The mistake changed the course of Fanny’s life.

            Another scar occurred by the death of Fanny’s father while she was still an infant. Her mother found domestic work to support the family, leaving Fanny to be raised by her Christian grandmother. Her grandmother poured scripture teaching into Fanny. 

            By Fanny’s teenage years she became a gifted poet at the New York Institution for the Blind. It wasn’t until the age of forty-four, that she began to write lyrics to the old gospel hymns, which have stood the test of time. Many have marveled at how a woman struck blind as an infant could weave nature into her hymns without ever seeing it. By the end of her life in 1915 at the age of ninety-five, she’d penned 5,500 to 9,000 hymns in all. The actual number being hard to calculate due to her common use of pseudonyms. 

            One of the most painful scars of Fanny’s life occurred in 1859, when she and her husband, who was also blind, lost their only child Frances, as a newborn baby. The child died in her sleep most probably from SID’s. Frances’s death brought the beloved hymn to life, Safe in the Arms of Jesus. Here are the lyrics: Click here to hear a modern version: Safe in the Arms of Jesus.

  1. “Safe in the arms of Jesus,
    Safe on His gentle breast;
    There by His love o’ershaded,
    Sweetly my soul shall rest.
    Hark! ’tis the voice of angels
    Borne in a song to me,
    Over the fields of glory,
    Over the jasper sea.
    • Refrain:
      Safe in the arms of Jesus,
      Safe on His gentle breast;
      There by His love overshaded,
      Sweetly my soul shall rest.
  2. Safe in the arms of Jesus,
    Safe from corroding care,
    Safe from the world’s temptations;
    Sin cannot harm me there.
    Free from the blight of sorrow,
    Free from my doubts and fears;
    Only a few more trials,
    Only a few more tears!
  3. Jesus, my heart’s dear Refuge,
    Jesus has died for me;
    Firm on the Rock of Ages
    Ever my trust shall be.
    Here let me wait with patience,
    Wait till the night is o’er;
    Wait till I see the morning
    Break on the golden shore.

Her absolute trust in her Savior and His will for her life was especially evident when she stated, “It seemed intended by the blessed providence of God that I should be blind all my life, and I thank Him for the dispensation. If perfect earthly sight were offered me tomorrow, I would not accept it. I might not have sung hymns to the praise of God if I had been distracted by the beautiful and interesting things about me.” 

      Some of her most popular hymns include Blessed Assurance, To God be the Glory, Near the Cross, Pass Me Not, This is My Story, Tell Me the Story of Jesus, I am Thine O Lord, Jesus is Calling, and All the Way My Savior Leads Me. If you grew up in a Protestant Church as I was, I’m sure reading these titles takes you home again. (My husband can tell you which page number they appeared on in the hymn book.)

God’s Grace: Painting I did to symbolize my journey with Breast Cancer. As I felt afraid , God blanketed me with His grace, and the butterflies symbolize the transformation that took place after.

The Apostle Paul:

Even the apostle Paul spoke of his scar-creating thorn in II Corinthians 12:7-10 “So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (English Standard Version)

      Wounds require God to heal. I can honestly attest I wouldn’t have survived my sister’s illness and death wholly without my Jesus. He seals all wounds and it is through the scars of His flesh we are healed.  Today I embrace my scars because I had to be broken in order for my Father to lovingly rebuild me in way that would glorify Him. 

      What have your scars done for you? Have you grown closer to the Father or have you let them kill your spirit and cause reoccurring strife in your life? I know someone who can fix that, if you let Him. Hand them over to your Heavenly Father and He will bring beauty from scars, just as He did for Fanny, just as He did for Paul, and just as He did for me.

      May your home be filled with musical Hallelujahs no matter what you’re going through. Till next time… 

Sources:

Be Still My Soul: The Inspiring Stories Behind 175 of the Most-Loved Hymns by Randy Peterson. 

Safe in the Arms of Jesus: Featuring Meghan O’Brien by Michael O’Brien

I am a Christian wife and momma to four children, ages 21 to 5. I'm a writer who loves ministry, painting, and interior design. I reside in Orlando full-time, but escape to my farmhouse on a working farm in the sticks of Georgia whenever I can. Welcome to the Hallelujah House!

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