The Silent Killer

We recently learned that less than 10,000 people have died in the United States from Covid-19 only. The virus might have played a part in the other deaths they currently include in the total, but they don’t actually know that right now.  

Know what they do know? They know that every year at least 20,000 women will be diagonosed with ovarian cancer, and 14,000 of them will die from it. This year.   

That’s an awful lot of women, and it’s like that every year. 

I started to feel sick in early 2009, but it took more than two years to find out what was happening to my health. There were many visits to many doctors, until my endocrinologist finally noticed something amok with one of my hormone levels. And, she said something curious: “We’re having a hard time locating your right ovary.”

I went home and searched the internet for the hormone she’d mentioned—I had never heard of it, and had no idea that I should be concerned. Then my search came back with one answer: ovarian cancer. I clicked a link, and found a long list of symptoms. I fully expected I would read down that list and be completely reassured that I did not have cancer. Instead, I could recognize almost every one. In fact, I almost felt relieved to have all of those symptoms point somewhere.

Nine years ago next month, a basketball-sized tumor was removed from my body. I did indeed have cancer, but I do not have cancer today. I praise God for that, and I urge you to become familiar with the symptoms of this awful disease. I know it’s scary to think about it, but it’s better to discover a problem sooner than later—especially a problem called cancer.

There is no diagnostic test for ovarian cancer, and because the symptoms are so varried, it’s often not discovered until Stage 3. That is why this disease is so deadly: they find it too late!  

14,000 women
will from
Ovarian Cancer
in 2020

While any woman can have any of these symptoms and not have ovarian cancer, if the symptoms persist for more than two weeks, please make an appointment with your OB/GYN.

  1. Pressure or pain in the abdomen or pelvis (I remember telling one doctor that I thought I needed to do a juice fast or detox, because I felt so bloated.)
  2. Difficulty eating; feeling full quickly
    (By the time dinner was ready, I’d lost my appetite. If I did eat, I could only manage a few bites.)
  3. Urinary concerns, such as urgency, frequency, or difficulty emptying your bladder (Had pointless, invasive, and completely unnecessary tests.)
  4. Change in bowel habits; constipation and/or diarrhea (Yup.)
  5. Unexplained, unusual, excessive vaginal bleeding (You don’t want to know.)
  6. Weight loss (Yes. That’s what scary.)
  7. Weight gain
  8. Nausea (I ate a lot of watermelon that summer. It was almost all I could stand.)
  9. Shortness of breath (This was awful. I could hardly do anything, without needing to rest.)
  10. Vomiting (Yes. Almost daily.)
  11. Tiredness, low energy (Oh, yeah.)
  12. Painful menstrual cycle
  13. Painful intercourse
  14. Abdominal swelling (I looked nine-months pregnant.)
  15. Dull ache in thighs or lower back

    oca bracelets copy

Presidential Message
Ovarian Cancer 101

Ovarian Cancer Awareness 
Cancer Center 
CDC Ovarian Cancer Fact Sheet


12 Things I Learned When I Got Cancer

A few days ago, I marked the seventh anniversary since a surgeon removed a basketball from my abdomen.

When I was finally able to return to chapel services at the Farm, where Doug was serving as Chaplain, he asked me to share a testimony.  I jotted down a few notes, and this is what came out. Pretty rough and ugly, but maybe what I learned can encourage someone else who may be in the midst of a season of suffering and challenge themselves.


Things I Learned When I Got Cancer

Lesson #1: God Gets To Do Whatever He Wants To Do
I really did not think God would allow me to have cancer, because I had too much going on in my life. The Fall is the busiest time for me in the ministry. Plus, there is no cancer history in my family. And, didn’t I have enough to deal with all ready? My family needed me. I did not have time to be in a hospital.

I really did think these very dumb thoughts.

Lesson #2: Just Keep Trusting
A few days after being released from the hospital, my incision opened and I was bleeding profusely. I was in the worst pain, and fear was rising. Doug had to take me to the E.R., and I remember laying there so scared, asking Doug to help me make sense of this. He simply told me, “You just have to keep trusting God.”

When things are so hard, but just keep getting harder, remember to just keep trusting. God’s faithfulness has no end.

Lesson #3: Pain Happens
We cannot prevent pain, but there are things we can do to stop it, or at least ease it. So, do what you can, and hold on tight to a friend’s hand whenever possible. And, remember Lesson #2. It will eventually pass. This applies to physical pain, and emotional pain.

Lesson #4: Do Your Best
You may not have another chance, so do your best right now. And, when it comes to other people, give them your best. It matters. It may matter to someone you’ll never meet, but it definitely matters to God, who put you here to do it in the first place.

Lesson #5: Always Assume The Other Person Is Having A Worse Day
I could cry right now, remembering the way I was cared for at the Yawkey Center for Cancer Care. But, it wasn’t only them. My visiting nurses (Robyn and Karen and Wendy, especially) blessed me in so many ways. I remember the look on the face of my anesthesiologist, the last thing I remember before waking up in recovery—the kindness and assurance in her eyes mattered. Yeah, they all knew I was sick. They had an advantage. But, we don’t have an excuse. We encounter people every day who are facing serious troubles. When I consider how much the kindness, warmth, and gentleness of strangers meant to me, I pray the Lord help me always to extend these same gifts to others. People giving their best made all the difference for me. Refer to Lesson #4.

Lesson #6: God Doesn’t Have To Give You Cancer To Kill You
Don’t wait for a terminal diagnosis to take life seriously. We have all been appointed a day to die, so live every day with meaning now.  Besides, when you get that diagnosis, you may not have the time, or strength, to do those things you keep putting off. And, it feels really bad to think you really might not get another chance. Review Lessons #4 and #7.

Lesson #7: Do It Now
Why are you putting it off? We don’t get credit for our To Do List.

Lesson #8: You Cannot Be Too Polite
See Lessons #4 and #5.

Lesson #9: The Little Things Matter
If you have been paying attention, you’ve all ready learned this lesson. Please, review Lessons #4, #5, #7, and #8.

Lesson #10:  Trials And Suffering Mature Our Love For God, And For Others
Don’t be afraid of trials and suffering. Don’t resist them. Don’t buck against them. One word I learned well during this time in my life was y – i – e – l – d. Yield. Yield to God, even as He takes you down a dark and frightening road. You see, His will only works when He is in full control. We must be fully surrendered. Remember Lessons #1 and #2.

Lesson #11: The Worst Thing That Can Happen Isn’t On This Earth
The worst thing that can happen is not getting to Heaven at all, or arriving in the presence of the Lord without a treasure to present your King. (See Lessons #10, #7, #4, and #2.)

Lesson #12: Don’t Forget What You Learned The Last Time
When the Lord allows suffering, it is for a purpose. He has a reason. An objective. So, write down what you learn. Tell others. And, keep living those lessons out every day. Live it as long as you have breath.

God bless you today. I know cancer has a way of re-entering the life of the survivor, and I keep that in mind as each anniversary approaches. My particular cancer is very slow growing, so if it usually reappears after 10-20 years, and the survival rate on the second pass is a lot less than the first. So, believe me, I review these lessons regularly. ❤


A sign my family left in my room. It was a touch of cheeriness that meant a lot.

I’m Alive

[Today is the five-year mark, since my cancer surgery in 2011. I am going to share a few posts from that year, and one other post. As you may know, the five-year anniversary for any cancer patient is a noteworthy day. So, in my own way I am marking it by living and breathing and testifying of my dear God and heavenly Father, Jehovah, who has shown me great kindness.]

sevenTH (and final) POST IN THIS SERIES: Written 10/27/11
(to begin series from beginning, click: First Post)


P.S. Thank you for walking down this portion of Memory Lane with me. It wasn’t an easy walk five years ago, and not exactly fun to remember today. However, remembering the hard times is important. It gives us perspective. It reminds of the goodness of God. And, He was very good to me in this season of my life. There were exceptional acts of kindness by nurses that I will never forget. There were divine interventions, and such grace in the midst of the trial. I know what He has done for me, He is willing to do for anyone. If you are going through a hard season, I hope you will find hope in my story. I hope you will seek Him for help in your time of trouble.

Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations.” (Deuteronomy 7:9, ESV)