Hearing the words “You have cancer” can feel like a sledgehammer hitting your soul, leaving you grappling with deep physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual challenges. After the initial shock of the diagnosis has worn off, you find yourself overwhelmed and wrestling with a lot of questions as you embark on this unexpected cancer journey that you are ill prepared to travel. However, there is a way to move forward. The key is to focus on your faith.

I believe the greatest challenge all cancer patients face at the onset is how to deal with the fear, anxiety and overwhelm of a cancer diagnosis while at the same time trying to figure out what to do next. Cancer is a huge problem that affects the body, mind, and spirit of everyone involved and totally disrupts your life. All of the questions and unknowns can be overwhelming and leave you feeling hopeless with no way to move forward. There is just so much to take in and deal with. At times the “weight” of cancer may seem unbearable or insurmountable. 

Christians are taught to take all of their troubles and concerns to God in prayer. This is great advice, but after prayer, the questions and unknowns remain, including what to do next. I believe the biggest challenge of all is fear. Part of that fear is fear of the unknown, especially fear of the unknown cancer world they are about to enter. The mind hates the vacuum of the unknown so it fills it with “something.” Usually that “something” is wrong and it is usually bad. So the first thing to do is to get some credible information about what you are facing.

Cancer experts know faith will have the greatest impact on the outcome of any cancer journey. So, your faith is the place to start. Faith is the spiritual weapon you have to fight cancer. Most people, including Christians, however, focus on their physical and mental battles with cancer along with the non-medical issues that come as a result of a cancer journey. While all these challenges must be faced, leaning into your faith is the best thing to do first.

Faith serves as the unshakeable foundation at the core of a Christian’s spiritual cancer journey. The confrontation with cancer instigates a process of self evaluation about the meaning, value and purpose of one’s life and one’s future. In these moments of uncertainty, faith offers an anchor, a steadying force that provides assurance of God’s presence and care. For the believer, faith in God’s love, faith in His promises, and faith in His sovereign plan are essential for navigating the tumultuous waters of a cancer journey. The caregiver, too, faces moments of exhaustion and heartache. Here, faith becomes a sustaining force, a wellspring of strength and courage that enables them to continue in their vital role. And for the supporters who come alongside the patient and caregiver on this journey, faith empowers them to be empathetic and steadfast in their support.

Faith not only provides assurance; faith is about agency. It is about taking action to produce a particular effect. Scripture says, “For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.” (James 2:25-26) So it is a Christian’s faith in action that engages in the spiritual battle against cancer. A. W. Tozer also reminds us that, “Faith is not merely a journey for the feet, but it is a journey of the heart.” In a cancer journey, a Christian’s heart is also tested and transformed.

When faith is in full effect, the trials, tribulations, pain and suffering that come with cancer can be endured and overcome. Leaning into your faith on your cancer journey will not only enable you to persevere, your faith and trust in God will grow along the way. This is the best result of the journey regardless of the physical outcome of the journey. 

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