His Gracious Love
Annik encounters the Father's heart, to discover that He makes all things work together for our good even in the midst of battling cancer.
In May 1993 at the age of 17 I was diagnosed with a cancer named Lymphoma. I was finishing my first year of college in accounting. The news struck me like a slap in the face. I couldn’t understand why it was happening to me. My mother was with me when I got the news. I realized that it was indeed true when I looked up into her eyes. I saw so much pain in her eyes. I realized what was ahead of me…death.. It was the most horrible day of my life.
During the first week I went through exam after exam, morning to evening. I also had a biopsy 2 days after my arrival at the hospital. Four days later I began chemotherapy treatments. Some were more painful than childbirth itself. I was horrified and terrified. I cried day and night. My parents suffered emotionally as much as I suffered physically.
I have two younger brothers, who were 13 and 15 and one sister who was 6 years old. My parents were an hour away from the hospital CHULD of Quebec City and that was the closest hospital where I could go to get chemotherapy treatments. My mother was at the hospital everyday to take care of me, to encourage me and to pray for me. My father worked in the city of Quebec that year and came to visit me after his day of work.
A few weeks later I could go home. I was happy but nothing was the same. I felt so fragile and so tired. I was ashamed of myself. No more long blond hair, no more eyelashes, eyebrows and no hair anywhere. I felt I looked like a monster. My greatest sadness was that certain friends had even forgotten about me. I was no more the party girl that they knew. I felt rejected. I was dead physically, emotionally and spiritually.
A few days after I left hospital I had to go back there to receive chemotherapy treatment and an explanation of the protocol. The protocol is the frequency of the treatments and the intensity ( some were more powerful then others). The protocol was for a duration of 104 treatments, which meant once a week for 2 years. It could be more if I had to skip some because of my physical state. There would be 24 lumbar punctures, once a month, which was withdrawing cerebrospinal fluid and then injecting anesthetic drugs. And finally, 10 days in a row of radiation to the head to prevent any cancer there. The radiation was scheduled for July.
Each treatment represented a major danger on my life. I received the intravenous chemo in my arms and if a vein burst or the nurse made a wrong move I could lose my arm. Chemo is so powerful that it can burn a part of the body just like fire does. I met a man that had lost one of his arms because of it. I was terrified. I also received treatments injected into the muscles and they all dried up. I remember that it was very difficult for me to sit on a chair for many years because my muscles were hurting.
The lumbar punctures were so painful and very dangerous as well. I could lose the use of my legs if the doctor made a bad move during the process. I was in constant fear. I felt like I was in hell. I felt like my life was dependant on a man’s hand. I thought that even if I could survive I could have still lost my legs, an arm and who knows what. I was totally depressed. Every treatment was extremely painful. After a lumbar puncture I had to remain flat on my back in bed for 3 days to avoid atrocious headaches.
Mid July 1993 I started the radiation and after those 10 days I knew that I would die soon. I had atrocious headaches during the days following these 10 days. I started to be sick and vomit. My physical state deteriorated very fast. I lost ALL physical strength at that point. I was barely walking, and couldn’t even wash myself, go to the washroom by myself or even chew my food. I had all kinds of infections in my mouth, my lungs and my skin. There was always something to make me suffer even more, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I was an open would. Even talking was an effort for me. I couldn’t follow a conversation; it was making me too tired to just concentrate on what people were saying. I was dying bit by bit slowly. The doctors stopped treatments as I was too weak.
My religious background was Catholic. I learned to be afraid of God. My mother was the first in our family who received the Lord Jesus as her Savior 5 years before cancer knocked at my door. I remember she was praying non stop. My relationship with God was not really deep. I was a rebel at that time. At the age of 12 years I was abused sexually and it was very hard for me to understand why God was so good and so mean at the same time. I couldn’t understand why He was letting me suffer. I had been raised in the way that if you do wrong you will be punished. Well now that I was dying, I was screaming asking God what I had done SO wrong to deserve the penalty of death and suffering like I was. He could have just killed me a car accident! In a moment! But no by dragging out my death like this. I never got the answer …at that time.
One day in particular at the end of July I had to isolate myself because I couldn’t even speak anymore or listen to people speaking to me or even hearing any noise. I was exhausted. I could smell my death coming at any minute. Then I cried and begged God to allow me to live. I was only 17 years old and I dreamed of getting married one day and having children, having a house and a new car and so on. I knew that night that if I closed my eyes, I would not open them ever again. The next morning my mother came to me and prayed over me for hours. When she finished she asked me if I wanted to go to the hospital and I refused. I knew in my heart that I could go to rest in God’s arms and sleep. I was at peace for the first time for months. I knew that I would not die, at leas not that day.
After this, all is vague and I have only flashbacks of events. We were now in winter or early spring 1994. I remember that my mother spoke to me about an English man who came from Toronto, Ontario. He was in LaBeauce, where I am from, and he was bringing the spiritual revival. I went to one of his meetings. I remember that I had fallen under the Spirit, my first experience. I was lying on the floor in a church, which I believe was the church of Pastor Sylvain Gauthier from St. Clotilde de Beauce. I remember this because I was coughing SO hard to the point of vomiting. I was afraid of vomiting which would bring ridicule and attract attention. I could not even get up to go to the bathroom as it was like I was glued to the floor. That is all I remember from that evening.
I remember also my mother had asked me if I wanted the English speaker , Jim Paul was his name, to come to the house and pray again over me. I accepted. All that I remembered is that I was lying on the ground in the living room and I heard people speaking in English. I did not know any English at that time and that is why it sounded weird to me and sticks in my memory. My mother told me that he prayed life over my body that day.
By late spring of 1994 I was getting better and better every day. Doctors had stopped the lumbar punctures. Glory to God!!! My hair was starting to grow again. Life had begun inside of me. I started by correspondence in accounting. In spite of what the doctors predicted which was the radiation treatment would affect my memory and counting, writing, reading, concentration and remembering would be very difficult for me They said I would lose most of my memory and my brain would not work properly. They said that if I wrote down a phone number I would hear number 4 but write it as 9.
Thanks to the Holy Spirit I refused that diagnosis and was determined to fight. In September 1994 I was re-registered full time at school and that in spite of the treatments of chemotherapy I was still receiving almost every week. By May 1995 I had completed all my courses and was graduating with a merit of excellence.
That same month I was at the hospital for a treatment with my mother who was still praying without ceasing with me. That day the doctor confirmed the stopping of the treatments for good.!! That morning after examinations they could not even find a scar inside of me!!! In total I did only half of the treatment. Usually patients are followed regularly during the first 5 years after a cancer but the doctor refused to see me again. On the other hand he left me a small little note, saying that, yes I was cured BUT that I would never have children. The chemo had killed the deadly cancer but also killed the good inside of me. My mother reminded me that when Jim Paul had prayed over me in the living room he had prayed life over my reproductive organs. We left the hospital for good and refused that diagnosis from the doctor.
Today in 2010 I have two beautiful, healthy boys and am pregnant with my third!! I have been in PERFECT health since and give total glory to God.
I have to point out that Jim Paul was from the revival that happened at TACF in 1994. Twelve years later TACF was my home church. God made my way to come to Toronto to meet Him personally and deepen our relationship. In my mind, the reason why I was leaving my family, friends and relatives from Quebec was the need to learn English. I was working in accounting and English was necessary for me.
I have to tell you today He had something different in mind and it was a divine appointment with Him…my spiritual revival. I have received my answer to my question of what did I do SO wrong to deserve a death penalty and suffering so much. Here is the answer; God wasn’t mad at me, He didn’t want to kill me because I did something wrong. Instead He was there all the time with me, suffering with me and helping me to go through that stage of my life. Cancer wasn’t what He wanted for me. It wasn’t His fault either but instead it was the consequence of the evil that is on the earth. He doesn’t harm us but loves us. It was a tough time but today I am stronger! I know that He will NEVER forsake me. Through Him everything is possible.
Today I am sadly leaving the church, TACF, where I grew spiritually and where I was taught that God is LOVE. I have been taught so many things: forgiveness, hearing the voice of God, getting free of sin and the sin of generations before me, how to love and receive love, signs and wonders, how to live the Bible and not just read it, and so much more.
What attracted me the first time I entered TACF church was the love that I felt. from strangers,. I just couldn’t understand that one but it kept me coming every Sunday and Friday and other events and courses.
Yesterday, June 16, 2010, I met the man Jim Paul who had prayed for me when I had cancer. This was the first time since he prayed for me, a little girl , 17 years old, living in a small village of 1500, LaBeauce Quebec. I couldn’t even remember his face from back then..
Today I know that God had and still has big plans for me for my province of Quebec. He has opened doors for me and my family to go back to Quebec. My husband has a wonderful job in Gatineau, near Ottawa. We are leaving Toronto in a week. I know in my heart that a chapter has closed but another one has opened.
This testimony is dedicated for the Glory of the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, .Jesus Christ.
- Annik -