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We Are Stronger For Our Struggle

I will always remember those words that changed our lives on that December morning. "Mike, I want you to know that I'm okay with this, but I have a doctor's appointment to check out a lump in my breast." Those words marked the beginning of our journey, a journey that tested and then strengthened our faith and commitment to each other.

Joy and I have been married for 14 beautiful years. We had just overcome the challenges of fixing our credit and buying our dream home in a lovely neighborhood. Our daily commute, which had caused us so much stress, was finally reduced, and everything seemed to be falling into place. Our jobs were going well, our involvement in our church was thriving, and our children were flourishing. Life was truly good. But then, in an instant, everything changed. The doctor's visit led to more tests, and soon we found ourselves face-to-face with the reality of breast cancer. It was a word that we never thought would become a part of our vocabulary, yet there it was, looming over us like a dark cloud. We navigated through mammograms, biopsies, and consultations with oncology surgeons. Our world turned upside down, and we were left grappling with the uncertainty of the future.

Of course we had been through challenges in our lives. The normal marital skirmishes, challenges with raising kids, even dealing with unsuccessful pregnancies. But now we found ourselves sitting in an office where the person on the other side of the desk brought out a chart to discuss 5, 10 and 15 year survival rates… for sure there were some surreal moments.

The surgery brought both relief and new challenges. The doctor assured us that the cancer was gone, but the removal of four cancerous lymph nodes meant that Joy would need six months of chemotherapy. We were faced with difficult decisions, and each step of the way presented its own set of emotional and physical hurdles. But amid the pain and uncertainty, we found solace in our faith.

God carried us through this trying time. I became Joy's rock, supporting her through every step of her recovery. From her total dependence on me to help her with everything… and I mean everything, to the heart-wrenching moments in the chemo room, we clung to each other and to our faith. Our marriage grew stronger as we faced this battle together, knowing that God's love was guiding us every step of the way.

And now, Joy has been cancer-free for 17 years. I wouldn't wish this struggle upon anyone, but as author Gary L. Thomas once wrote, "Struggle makes us stronger; it builds us up and deepens our faith." Our marriage has been tested, but we have emerged stronger and more resilient. God brought us through this entire ordeal. This journey has taught us the true meaning of love and commitment. It has shown us that together, with God's help, we can face any challenge that comes our way. The joy of our marriage has been tested, but it has prevailed. And as we look back on these 17years, we are filled with gratitude for the strength and love that carried us through.

God helped us take on this struggle head-on. And we're stronger for our struggle.