After designing Covered in Truth, a quilt about our identity in Christ, I was asked to alter the design concept to be focused on cancer patients. I had been dreaming for years about creating a quilt for those fighting cancer. I made this Covered in Hope quilt for my mother-in-law Janie who is a two time breast cancer survivor. Here is her story…
My Journey through Breast Cancer
I was diagnosed with breast cancer 6 days after 9/11 on September 17, 2001. I had a biopsy on a lump that I was sure was nothing. My mammograms had all been normal and an ultrasound showed that the lump I was feeling was “normal breast tissue.” I wanted to make certain of what it was and requested a biopsy. The memory of my husband and the doctor talking to me in the recovery room still plays in slow motion in my mind. My husband took my hand while the doctor said, “It was cancer. We’re going to have to do more surgery.” I knew life would never be the same again.
After several weeks of doctor appointments and agonizing decisions, I had a mastectomy and reconstruction. One of these appointments was with my medical oncologist and I learned that I would need chemotherapy. This was especially devastating news to me because Josh and Janel were getting married in May and I knew I wouldn’t have hair. I was bemoaning the fact that we would always look back at the wedding pictures and be reminded that I was going through cancer treatment. Janel’s response blessed and encouraged me, “No, we will always look back at the pictures and see a strong woman, fighting for her life.”
The surgery revealed that I had two lymph nodes that were positive for cancer. In addition, all of the tests performed on the original tumor showed that the cancer was very aggressive and I would need six months of chemotherapy. My friend, Pam, brought a discman for me to listen to praise and worship music during my treatment. I found a story in the Bible where a king was going into a battle against an enemy and God told him to send in the musicians instead of the soldiers. They defeated the enemy with singing! This became my strategy against the enemy that I was battling.
Through having cancer though I learned a lot about life and what is really important. And through my faith being challenged I have a deeper relationship with God. I was confronted with questions like, “What do I truly believe?” and “Where is God in all of this?” I felt that if my faith in God would not work in these huge challenges, what was it really worth? I was challenged to walk by faith when I could not see what the next step would be. I was challenged to find peace in Christ when the waves and the wind were howling around me. I was challenged to have courage when fear was overwhelming me.
I was questioning God’s love and plan for me. I knew Rom 8:28; “that all things work together for good (not that all things are good) for those that love God and are called according to His purpose. I came to realize that Satan is the one who wants to kill and destroy. I believe that God’s heart breaks for us and with us when we are suffering. God created us to be uniquely women. God has given us breasts for beauty, pleasure and to nourish our babies. I believe that it grieves God’s heart for a woman to have her breasts removed.
I did not feel like I had a lot of faith. It was quite the opposite. I felt that my faith was small, but out of a sheer act of my will I chose to trust. I began to pray Luke 17: 5, “The apostles said to the Lord, Increase our faith.” and in Mark 9:24, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief.” I believed God, but was honestly crying out in my weakness for God to supply me with belief where I was lacking. I did not want to let despair isolate me from the love and hope that I needed in order to survive. I asked God for my heart’s eyes to be opened to know the hope to which he has called me. We are not called to despair, but to hope in Jesus based on the resurrection. Jesus rose from the grave. He conquered death! Wow! That is exciting to me and it gives me hope. I have a future in heaven. And here in this life, I have a peace that only God could give.
According to Hebrews 11:1 faith is intimately connected to hope. Corrie Ten Boom was a woman acquainted with human suffering and she said “In order to realize the worth of the anchor, we need to feel the stress of the storm.” Hebrews 6:19 says, “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” God knows and cares about our suffering and grief. He doesn’t want us to live in despair. We can truly sing, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness.” Lamentations 3:19-32 says, “I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” We can anchor our souls on His character.
On Christ the solid Rock I stand
All other ground is sinking sand
All other ground is sinking sand
Jesus loves us intentionally and lavishly. He wants to give you peace that is beyond human understanding. He wants to give you joy even in the middle of difficult circumstances. times. He wants to give you eternal life.
This quilt is very special to me. Janel’s dream to design a quilt to encourage people going through cancer is a work of love. The words used in the quilt and the scriptures were very important to me during my own cancer journey. I hope that they encourage many others. God is faithful!