After Lois Thompson was diagnosed with breast cancer, she decided to pick up her pen and use her own experiences to help others, which led to her book Hope in Cancer, Death and Grief, writes Julie Houghton.
What happened after you were told you had breast cancer?
What followed my diagnosis was a mastectomy, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and nine months off work for treatment.
Is there a standard reaction to a cancer diagnosis?
Our general reaction to cancer is “It’s an enemy that must be fought.”
Praise God, cancer patients and our support network don’t fight this enemy alone. We’re supported by an army of medical professionals. Today, 89 out of 100 breast cancer patients are termed ‘survivors’, living beyond five years of diagnosis. Most never have it return, but I underwent further effective treatment for a recurrence last year.
How vital was your Christian faith in tackling your cancer challenge?
I had a mighty spiritual army fighting with me. I discovered afresh the power of prayer from Christians near and far. I experienced the presence, peace and power of God. I was encouraged by the Lord, as he led me to Bible verses that uplifted and encouraged me. My heart was warmed by the love and support of my family, friends and church.
Being diagnosed with cancer wasn’t the first tragedy you have faced—did you ever feel like just giving up?
Most people want to live this life for as long as possible, but we can become weary in battle. My eldest son died in a tragic car accident in 2002. He was 19. For a long time, in my grief, I just wanted to be reunited with him. But as I faced the reality of my own death, my heart and eyes were opened, and for the first time I could see everything life and living had to offer.
Cancer made me stop. It forced me to decide, and I decided I wanted to live. As I fought to defeat cancer, my enemy, I found cancer my friend. I number myself amongst the many breast cancer hurdlers, who say their life is richer, stronger and better for having jumped that hurdle.
We all want to win the cancer battle, but what happens if it becomes unwinnable?
Sadly, we are all too aware that, despite fighting cancer with all available spiritual and medical weapons, sometimes cancer, the enemy, wins. I again faced crippling grief when my husband lost his battle against bowel cancer in 2011. I thought I had done enough grieving during my husband’s long battle with this old enemy. I had my Christian faith and family and I seemed quite happy on the surface, but deep inside I had once again lost the will to live. I lost sight of everyone and everything in my life. The pain of loss and grief clouded my world.
What were your own coping strategies at this dreadful time?
My loving God led me through those clouds of grief. My husband had a full life, loving and serving Jesus, after the Lord saved him from suicide and alcoholism. We have a remarkable story. God spoke to us through his Word. He gave us the Scripture, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).
Pat, my beloved, waited in hospital for six weeks, at times impatiently, to enter his glorious destiny. Cancer became his friend as it carried him to his heavenly home. And then death was swallowed up by victory. “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory? The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians chapter 15, verses 55–57).
Find out more at facebook.com/loisthompsonauthor