Stage 4 Cancer: A Declaration

I have always thought of myself as “set apart.”  

In high school I was not motivated by what motivated other high schoolers.  I chose a college that was itself, physically set apart.  It attracted students who were actively pursuing something, I myself, simply did not know what that something was, but I found kindred spirits and a home.    After college many people, lose their idealistic ways and turn themselves over to practical choices.  I ran off to California.  I wanted to witness a spiritual movement, see the beauty of a cliffside coastline, and find God in a new way.  I started a job, that led to a better and better job, but never was I content.  I felt in my heart that this was not my purpose.  I met Clifton, experienced love at first sight, spent a few weeks convincing him to give me a chance and then was married.  I had two of my beautiful girls, became a teacher and then had a third daughter.  Though I was a good teacher, a good advocate, a good mother and wife, I knew my life was not complete.  There was a calling, something set apart for me as I was set apart for it.  

The years that led up to my initial diagnosis of cancer I had daily reminders: 11/11.  Everyday on a clock or a sign or a book I would see 11/11.  I thought that November 11 would one day hold the biggest joy of my life.  So year after year I would show up to work on November 11 declaring that something amazing was going to happen!  This was MY day, something, HAD to happen! And nothing, nothing, nothing. Then in 2015 I met with a gynecologist who sent me in for a mammogram and on 11/11/15 I was told I had breast cancer.  I will never forget the doctor handed me a doctor’s note and on it was written “From 11/11/15-11/11/16 Lauren Huffmaster will not be available to take care of anyone but herself.”  Though I fought it for a month or so, she was right, my survival depended on my ability to rest.

My first diagnosis I processed as a trial.  Who doesn’t have trials?  I have a wonderful life, an amazing husband and family.  If I must be tested, let it be in my physical nature.  No problem.  I held onto my God’s faithfulness and inability to fail, and kept walking. No problem 11/11/15-11/11/16.  I can do this.  At that time I knew no one in my own town and was served by the kindness of strangers for a year.  I received support and love that poured in  from all over the country.  I experienced love because of my situation. I experienced God’s faithfulness, and I remained faithful to Him as I moved through the trial.  I had deep communication with God through my darkest moments and I never doubted. I loved others whom I met in cancer circles and I was open about my struggles.  I walked through the trial pulling from the faith that I had built in my spirit throughout my life.

For two years I pursued the list of treatments that were given to me on the initial night of my diagnosis: chemo, mastectomy, radiation, reconstruction, reconstruction adjustments and oophorectomy.  In December of 2017 I met with a surgeon about my impending oophorectomy, the last item on my list.  I went to have a PET/CT, as is expected before any surgery.  Then on 12/21/17 my doctor called me with tears dripping from her voice and heard that I have metastatic breast cancer.  The cancer spread. Through my spine and my pelvis.  Multiple tumors and lesions.  

For all that had altered my life under the first diagnosis, nothing compares to this news.    There is no “from this moment until that moment you will have cancer.”  This is a diagnosis for the entirety of life. This is a diagnosis without a cure.  A diagnosis with no hope at the end of a tough battle.  This is a diagnosis that demolishes my understanding of a trial.  This is completely unexpected; a possibility that never crossed my mind.  

All of my life, the prayer of my heart has been, “Here I am, take me, use me.”

Over the past two years I have met so many cancer survivors.  I have laughed and cried with them.  I have shared their pain, fears, anxiety, hopes.  They are family.  Even before I meet a newly diagnosed cancer patient, I know them.  I love them and hurt for them.  We are bound together.  

My First Descents family, a group of survivors, describe us as a tribe.  I have been called to this tribe.

There is a large number of young adult survivors in our country who are hurting, hopeless, desperate and alone.  I have been initiated into this group through cancer.  I love these people because of cancer.  I will serve these people because of cancer.  

Cancer, for me, is not a valley tucked between two mountain top experiences.  Cancer is the calling of abundant life.  It is my broken state through which God can best display His love.  It is my weakness through which God’s power can be perfected.  It is the one thing I can boast in because I believe His greatest work in my life will come through it.

I know a thousand voices have raised prayers for my healing since I announced my diagnosis but it is not the prayer of my heart that I may be healed.  I simply pray that I may rest in God’s plan.  There is a plan.  It is not what I was expecting God’s calling to look like, but there is a calling.  I feel overwhelmed by the idea that God would set apart a tribe of hurting, dying people, that I may be love to them.  It is both the worst and greatest realization of my life.

Though I do not want cancer in my life, I embrace it as my earthly sacrifice. In the walking out of this sacrifice, I find the purpose I have longed for my entire life. So, when you pray, pray not only for me but for young cancer survivors around the world.  Pray that I may be a voice of peace, a voice of love.

 

11 thoughts on “Stage 4 Cancer: A Declaration

  1. Your writing is absolutely amazing and I see Gods peace all over you. You are amazing my friend and I cherish you! I’m still praying for complete healing 💗

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  2. Lauren, this is simply beautiful. Of course, in our humanness, we pray for His perfect healing, earth as in heaven. BUT, you have truly grasped what it means to serve the Lord. Thank you for sharing. ❤

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  3. Wow. Wow. No words. You truly are a miracle and a blessing to so many. I love you now more than ever as I see your strength and your goodness in a whole new way. Again I say Wow.

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  4. What a poignant testimony of a life being lived on purpose and mindfully. Although not cancer, I too am going through the most difficult time of my life. I can attest to the faithfulness of the Lord as He lovingly refines us in the fire, tumbles and polishes us so we can shine His pure light around us- just what the world needs now, more than ever! I would venture to say at least part of your calling is writing, my dear! ☺

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  5. What a beautiful, beautiful pouring out of your heart! You have truly found Him in a way most people never know! My prayer is for God’s continued perfect peace and purpose in your life and for those who love you so! God is bigger than any illness, heartache, or challenge, and we ask that His love and light continue to shine through you every step of your journey. I’ve never met you, but I’ve been praying for you because someone who loves you dearly has rallied prayer warriors on your behalf. I’m so honored to bring your name to Our Father, and I am trusting and believing in His plan for you! He is Able and He Will! Thank you for your witness and faithfulness. You are changing lives here on earth and for eternity, too.

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  6. Lauren. What a beautiful person you are and to be able to serve God in this way. My prayers will be for your healing and that God will put more people in your path to share your testimony. May He give you peace and comfort.

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  7. Lauren, I can’t even imagine how cancer feels to walk through. I may be an incomplete person with struggles, but nothing that threatens my life. To be honest life is mostly easy! Your words inspire me to live on purpose in the life I’ve been given, especially through the pain. Thank you for doing what you have been called to do and sharing your heart!!

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  8. Lauren…thank you for sharing your walk with the Lord and how He enables you to reach out to others with the comfort He has comforted you.
    Tomorrow we are having lunch with a dear friend who has been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer that began in his kidney and has spread. He and his wife know the Lord. I want to share your words with them…they speak to the heart…praying for you and your family…carol

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  9. Well, first of all WOW!! The heart of faithfulness and trust I hear in Your words is absolutely supernatural!!! I work with your friend, Stephanie Gibson and she sent me your story. She doesn’t know it but somehow I see the time 11:11 EVERY day and have for years. One of our “spiritual kids” told me that the number 11 means conformation of God’s word. I don’t know if that means anything to you but I thought I’d throw that out there. Anyway, when I read your blog about your 11/11 reminders, I instantly felt a connection to you. What is even crazier is that she texted me about you at 11:11:). My husband and I have a worship CD that has just been released and she wants to send you one. We pray it is a blessing to you and your family and anyone else and we look forward to hearing of your complete healing!!

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  10. You are an amazing person Lauren!! Although I have never met you and I can sense you have an undeniable strength and courage! It has truly touched me as Breast Cancer survivor (4 months). Thank you for sharing your testimony!

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