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How God Held My Right Hand

On 11/15/07 I finally quit smoking. The middle of January 2008 a lump appeared on the right side of my neck. After treating unsuccessfully with antibiotics, a biopsy was ordered. While waiting for the results I went on The Walk to Emmaus. Church members had been after me for 6 months to a year to go and I kept putting them off. This was scheduled early December, before I knew I had cancer. God knew and was there waiting for me. The Emmaus walk helped me accept help and brought me much closer to God. I was going to need both to get me through the next 8 months. The hymn "Standing on the promises of God" came to me, before this was all over I would be jumping up and down on them.

The doctor that finally told me what I had feared just bluntly laid it out there, you have cancer. No comforting words from him, but God was there waiting because the doctor's nurse was a member of my church and she came over, put her arm around me and told me, "Everything was going to be alright." Really, I thought. How am I going to get through this with my family 500 miles away? God would provide my work family, and my church family to help me, that is how!

The doctor wanted to perform a radical Lymphectomy, the swollen lymph node had to come out. Should I stay in this small rural town (Martin, TN) or go 2½ hours away to Memphis or Nashville for the surgery? Doctor's nurse once again stepped in and convinced me to have surgery there. I would need my work and church family close by to help me.

Surgeon, primary care, radiation and chemo doctors, all were controlling my life. Not asking but telling me where to be and what tests to take. I wanted to be in control. The urgency displayed, made me realize how serious this was. The hymn "Trust and Obey" came to me. I should not be angry with those God put there to help me, I should be angry at the cancer. The radiation oncologist found the cancer on the back right side of my tongue. He said left untreated this would kill me within 2 years.

I would have to have the Lymphectomy done before chemo and radiation. Sunday before my surgery the church youth formed a prayer circle with me in the middle. Each one, 30-40, laid hands on me and said a prayer for me. I had been active with them and now they were demonstrating their love for me. Pretty humbling. The day of my surgery, 9 church members were in my room before 7 A.M. to pray before I was taken into surgery. One member stayed 4 ½ hours waiting until I came out of surgery to call my family and friends.

31 lymph nodes were removed, only the swollen one was cancerous. The doctor spent the next 2 days showing me off to his colleagues. He said, "In my 35+ years' experience I have never seen, nor heard of, nor read, of anyone coming through this type surgery as well as you have!! There is usually some type of nerve damage, either the mouth droops or the shoulder sags, but you have no damage. And I was prepared to give you up to 3 units of blood during surgery, but you only lost approximately 30cc---again this is unheard of!!" God was watching over me and not only listening, but answering all those prayers being said on my behalf.

A friend started an email to family & friends. He would contact me, so I was not disturbed by well-wishers and I could have uninterrupted resting time that I needed so much. He then kept everyone informed of how I was feeling and progressing. He also coordinated drivers to take me to my doctor appointments, I never had to drive myself. I counted 80 names on the last email sent, but I know of several individuals who forwarded to family or friends, and then they would forward it and some sent to their church's prayer line, so I have no idea of exactly how many were praying for me, but God knows. Pretty humbling knowing so many people, some strangers, but brothers and sisters in Christ, praying for you.

During chemo and radiation treatment the doctors and the nurses would constantly tell me that I "was ahead of the curve", or "you are doing so much better than most", or "you have really tolerated this treatment well". My only reason to them is, was and always will be, because of all the prayers that were being sent to God for me. Twice during my 7 weeks of chemo & radiation treatment I was losing weight too fast and the nurses became concerned. I just could not keep anything down. This info went out in the email and those 80+ people started praying. I was eating the next day!!

The one scripture that meant the most to me was Isaiah 41:13. This meant so much to me because, during my battle with cancer, I would get so tired, so sick, so anxious, that at times I would take me eyes off of Jesus, or lose my grip and just could not hold onto Him no matter how hard I tried. Now listen to verse 13, "For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, do not fear; I will help you."
God has a hold of your right hand and I know God never tires and God will never let go! He will be with you, as He was with me, every step of the way no matter what path we are on! And sometimes you will find He was there before you preparing the way!

Submitted by Jeff Ziegler
(From Relay for Life Rally @ Richland Mall)