Last week I was leaving the house when, as soon as I backed out of the driveway, I spotted a woman walking down the sidewalk on the opposite side of the road. As I drove closer towards her I realized that she was wearing a scarf on her head. And then I saw the tell-tale sign of breast cancer- she had had a mastectomy on one side and wasn't wearing a prosthetic.
I drove a split-second longer, then suddenly slammed on my brakes, parked my car in the middle of the street and left my door wide open as I walked to catch up with her. And the only way I can describe what happened next was that God took over and the Holy Spirit guided me through this conversation.
I said, "Excuse me," and got her attention. She wore no makeup, looked tired, and I could tell she wasn't as old as she appeared. I think she must have been in her late thirties. I said, "I'm being treated for breast cancer right now, and is it ok to assume that you are too?"
She said yes. She told me she was experiencing a recurrence, that it had spread to her lung and that after four years and a lot of chemotherapy her doctors had just told her there was no more hope.
The words I spoke next were from the Holy Spirit as he guided me. I said, "There is always hope. And I'd like to pray for you right now." I grabbed her hands and we stood there on the sidewalk and prayed. I don't remember anything I said, I just remember how wonderful it felt to be in the presence of God on the hot sidewalk in Cypress, Texas. I remember that as I spoke outloud, I was inwardly praising God. For what, I'm not sure. It was actually a sad story that the woman shared. And I identified with her pain. So I find it miraculous and awe-inspiring that I could feel godly peace in that moment.
When I said, "Amen" and looked up, there were three cars patiently waiting on the street. The door of my car was still ajar and no one could get by. We live on a busy street and I was impressed that no one had honked their horns to get our attention. I hope that they could tell by our posture that we were praying and that the Holy Spirit we felt so clearly was also evident to them.
It turns out that Cassandra, the woman I prayed for, was also a believer. I wasn't meant to share the gospel with her that day, but I know I was meant to share that moment with her. I pointed my house out to her and asked her to please come by anytime she wanted. I haven't seen her since. But she's been on my mind every day since then. For me it was a little glimpse of heaven. I didn't know her but I loved her immediately, just as Jesus does. God revealed a little bit more of himself to me that day and I'm still reveling in that palpable presence a week later.
And earlier today, God brought another breast cancer patient into my life. Although hers is a very different story. I met the woman as I picked Micah up from pre-school. She and I were the first to arrive to collect our children (her grandchildren). She was wearing a Komen "race for the cure" t-shirt. It's October- breast cancer awareness month- so I've seen many, many people sporting their pink clothes and Komen gear. But for some reason I decided to ask her about her shirt. "Did you participate in the race?" I asked.
She said, "Yes. I'm a survivor and I walk every year."
It turns out that she is an 18-year survivor. She had stage 3 and it was in her lymph nodes just like me. She said that when she passed the 10-year mark her doctors told her that she was "in the general population." Meaning that she now has no higher chance of recurrence than any other woman. I didn't even know that was possible. And just hearing her story gave me hope.
So, God brought me two women in the last 7 days who've walked my path. One nearing the end of her journey, and one who has put the pain and experience far behind her. I don't know what my journey is going to look like. But I'm grateful that I got to meet these women and hear their tales. I'm grateful that God loves me enough that He takes the time to so intricately weave my life so that I cross certain people's paths at certain times.