Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Cancer and the Circle of Life

Cancer. When you hear that word what comes to your mind? Death. Chemo. Fight. Sickness. Battle. Pink ribbons. What is it for you? What about...


Cancer is a common word in our household these days because of Micah being an oncology certified registered nurse at IU Health Goshen Center for Cancer Care. I daily hear stories involving patients he treats in the infusion room. He has helped make them laugh with his dry sense of humor, cried a bit with them over their diagnosis, or been doted on by the older ladies because of his good looks and wavy curls of hair (seriously, one told him he looked like a Greek god!) I know my husband LOVES his job...well, not really his "job", but rather his "calling". To Micah, going to work each day at the cancer center is not really a "job", it's a calling he is being faithful to work in. Early on in our marriage when he sensed his place was not in camping ministry and perhaps was to be in nursing, Micah made his way through a second round of schooling to make it happen because something inside him knew this was what he was meant to do. It was never much of a question where he would end up serving as a nurse--his heart has always been tied to cancer.

You see, when Micah was 6 years old his mom, Glenda, was taken by cancer. She was too young...much too young. She fought the battle bravely while MANY people prayed to God to heal her, but it took her to her final home in Heaven instead of keeping her with her hubby and 5 children. It wasn't fair. It wasn't right. It wasn't the happy ending people want to hear. It left many with unanswered questions and lost hope. It left pain and hurt and emptiness. It left many with what the word "cancer" typically makes people think of.

Glenda left behind children from their teenage years down to their toddler years and it was very hard on all of them to say the least. Micah has wonderful memories of his mom from a 6 year old's perspective...a lot of cooking and baking in the kitchen where she welcomed all of their help. I've learned through stories over the years that Glenda loved antiques, crafts, and baking. She was often found in her flower beds or gardens on the farm. She also had a bit of a temper and a sense of humor. When going through old paperwork and pictures to create a heritage album, I discovered a paper where Glenda had written out her testimony of how she came to know the Lord and why her love of God was so important in her life. It was a cherished document to find. I only wish I could have heard those words from her directly. As the only woman marrying into this family, I grieve that I never had the chance to know my mother-in-law for myself. I truly think I would have loved her greatly.

In addition to Glenda's battle with cancer, we have also had another very personal touch of cancer in our family when our niece, Madison, had to fight her battle with cancer. Maddie was just 2 1/2 years old when she got diagnosed. She went through all the same horrible rounds of chemo and such that an adult does for 2 years. She was brave and strong (as were her parents) and is now 8 years old and (thank God) cancer free. This past summer Micah shaved his head to raise funds for St. Baldrick's Foundation, who help fund research to beat childhood cancer, in honor of Maddie. Here is a photo of Maddie watching the shave party via Skype.

It's really no wonder God decided to use Micah's heart to reach out to others fighting their battles with cancer. Micah has a connection to his cancer patients that many nurses simply can not have--he's a survivor too of sorts. He's survived the loss cancer has made in his family. But what does all of this have to do with LIFE?

Well, to answer that, let me introduce you to one of Micah's past patients...her name is Julie Harvey and she was one of Micah's favorites. Julie was the topic of many of our table conversations in the evening and Micah would often get on fb or such to show me this woman as she fought her battle with cancer. Thankfully Julie has won her battle! Julie has not allowed her cancer to hinder her in life, but instead she has used it to fuel the desire to have this disease brought to an end. She helped bring awareness and funds to cancer research through the Pink Cart program put out by Borden Wasteaway. Here is a picture of her at the reveal of the Pink Cart program (Julie is on the right)...
Yesterday, we got the most touching letter and donation from Julie towards our adoption of Nora. Instead of trying to re-word her heart, I asked her permission to simply type out parts of her letter directly on here so you can see how special this was for is the part where cancer becomes LIFE!

Dear Micah and Angie-

When I was diagnosed my world was turned upside down, I was certain that God had forgotten me and my children in this mess, and I was going to leave them motherless. I was afraid, alone, petrified, and uncertain of where I fit into this whole plan...I know that I have often said that I was diagnosed while we lived here because God knew that I needed to be at Goshen Cancer Center. The last three years have been filled with heartache and joy and all in between, and all the same time.

God brought me others getting treatment like me, as well as those who cared for me and so many other wonderful people to help to ease the pain of the journey that I was on, but more so to show me HIS love-they held my hand-and so did Micah.

Last year I was HONORED to be a part of the Pink Cart program in Northern Indiana. When Borden Wasteaway asked me to be a part of launching the program in Warsaw, I was ALL OVER it--I loved the idea. Partially because I feel that whatever positive I can do in the face of cancer-IT does not win. The Pink Cart program was one of the MANY opportunities brought into my life-to "win" in the face of it all.

I believe that God placed you two and Nora on my heart in a BIG way during that time-I just didn't know why. I agreed to a commission structure for the program and just last week I was gathering my report to send for that payment...THAT is when I stumbled on your video of your trip to Haiti. (I know that we only stumble upon ourselves, the other GOD places in our path). It took me about 5 seconds to realize where the money I made needed to go--I called Mike, and he agrees WHOLE heartedly...It needs to go to you-to bring Nora home-so she can know that LOVE that you have to give. So she can know that Jesus put HER in my heart to be obedient to HIM to help bring her to you-I believe that-and I know that to be true. I always questioned when my friends told me that God spoke to them-thinking he never had my number on speed dial. I can assure you last Wednesday-GOD SPOKE TO ME!

I feel that this whole thing has come FULL circle-how God is using this old cancer diagnosis to bring new life into our world, and to show a child,-HIS child, that there is hope in her, and hope in her future-here...with you!!! To know the love and compassion that her family has shown me.

Please accept my humble gift to your family. You have witnessed God's love and promise in the face of adversity to me, and all around you, and I am grateful to you-all of you.

God Bless you and your amazing family-May you be able to bring her home just a little sooner-thanks to cancer-and the lesson is that GOOD can come from any bad situation.

LOVE YOU ALL--Merry Christmas,
Mike, Julie, Lucas, and Dayle

So amazing, isn't it! I love Julie's intuition where cancer has meant to defeat and bring death, it has instead come FULL circle and been overcome with LIFE. I know that Julie was thinking in her own personal circle...that her life-threatening cancer (that was beat) caused her to be asked to help promote the carts, which gave her extra income that she could then put towards our adoption costs, which brings Nora's life into ours and saves a life that needs it. Very cool, indeed, but nonetheless, as I read her letter and reflected on how much cancer has affected our lives, I see an even larger circle in this story. One that connects even Julie's story to our life story and because of that, our daughter Nora with a Grandma she will only meet when she gets to Heaven...

Glenda loses her battle with cancer when Micah is 6-Micah develops a passion for cancer patients throughout life-as an adult, Micah goes back to school for nursing-Micah gets a job with IU Health Goshen on the cancer floor-he is eventually transferred to the Cancer Center-Julie comes as a patient under Micah's care-he uses his calling in life to touch Julie's life-Julie's fueled with his compassion-Julie wins her battle with cancer-Julie is asked to help create awareness to battle cancer with the Pink Cart program-Julie makes a commission off of that program-Julie knows of our adoption and knows God could use this extra money to help bring Nora home-Julie sends us the money-and EVENTUALLY Nora will come home and have life that is touched by a thread of the Lord that reaches through Julie's faithfulness, to our faithfulness, and then clear back to her Grandma Glenda's life. That, folks, is a glimmer of how God can use cancer to bring LIFE! I love seeing the thread of God weaving in and out and connecting all parts of our lives together for the good. It's amazing!

So, Julie, thank you. Thank you for your donation and your letter. Thank you for your hard-fought battle with cancer and for never allowing it to defeat your spirit. Thank you for being faithful to the Lord's call in your heart. It has done wonders to show us, and others...and Nora...the amazing power of the BODY of Christ.

Thank you, Lord, for Your thread in our lives and for now connecting in a very woven way, Nora to her Grandma Glenda. It has made my heart excited to see where all You will also tie us together with more of your children along this journey.


  1. Would love to get a copy of Mom's testimony!

  2. What a powerful example of God's amazing abilities and His LOVE for us!!!

  3. Everytime I read your BLOG I get so dang excited to see that sweet face where it belongs-Thank you for letting me share in the process with you- your words encourage us all~~
    Love- Jules