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 (Manna 71: What Does God Require of You?)
Journey of Faith
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Journey of Faith

Mary Lee—Singapore

In the name of Jesus, I bear testimony of God’s grace for me and my family.

Ten years ago, I was diagnosed with Stage II nasal cancer. I was devastated as my children were very young then; Joshua was only about six years old and was still in kindergarten. The children were told of my condition by their daddy. Surprisingly, they did not seem troubled by the news, and we could feel that the peace of God was with them just as the psalmist said in his time of trouble, “Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; [f]or I shall yet praise Him, [t]he help of my countenance and my God” (Ps 42:11).

Simultaneous radiation and chemotherapy sessions to treat my condition followed. Whilst undergoing treatment, I suffered from side effects such as burnt skin, vomiting, loss of taste, hair loss, and so forth. Most of the time, I went for daily treatments by myself. Nevertheless, I felt blessed because many brethren in church encouraged me and prayed for me. During that time, I saw other patients who were worried and in despair, but they noticed that I was calm and at peace: “[The Lord] gives power to the weak, [a]nd to those who have no might He increases strength” (Isa 40:29).

By God’s grace, I was able to return to work five months after I had started treatment. I returned to my active and busy lifestyle: going to the gym every weekday morning before work and working late often. In addition, I moved to my present home and went on holidays with my family.

Four years later while on vacation in Beijing, I noticed that my facial expression was unbalanced. One eye was smaller than the other. In addition, one morning on the way to work, I could not catch the bus, because my left leg felt weak. I consulted the doctor and was subsequently sent for an MRI scan as well as cancer screenings. Although the results showed that there was no cancer relapse, I was diagnosed with Radiation Necrosis. My neck’s C3 spinal nerve was scarred due to my previous radiation treatment, and this affected the movement of my limbs.

Thankfully, the condition is not life threatening. However, it is permanent and comes with much suffering, as it can only be managed through medication. I was also placed on intravenous steroid drips to reduce swelling on the spinal cord. Yet all I can say is, “in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thess 5:18).

My condition stabilized shortly after, and I returned to work. It did not occur to me to stop working, as I wanted to make sure that my children have the financial means for further studies. My mother was a widow with two children. We were poor then, and I started to work at eighteen, because I did not have the money for further education. Therefore, I made a promise to myself that my children will not be denied of the opportunity. I thank God that my eldest son, Jonathan, is blessed with the opportunity to study in Perth, Australia.

Soon after, my department’s work was outsourced to Shanghai and Bangkok. Thus, I had to work and travel a lot more. Moreover, the probability of retrenchment was high. One day, on my way to work at Jurong Island, the same weakness returned. I sat at the subway station for nearly an hour as I could not get onto the coach that ferries me to my work place. Thankfully, as Prophet Nahum says, “The Lord is good, [a] stronghold in the day of trouble; [a]nd He knows those who trust in Him” (Nah 1:7).

The Lord gave me strength to make my way directly to my doctor. When my husband Ivan came, I went for another MRI scan, and the results showed that there was another similar scar but now on the other side of my spinal cord. I was hospitalized again for the same treatment, and since then, I have not been able to return to work, as my limbs became weaker and I became wheelchair bound.

A year later in 2009, due to my immobility, I developed bedsores on my buttock. The sores turned into a deep hole right to my tailbone. At this difficult time, I remembered the words of Jesus, “But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Lk 12:7).

Between July to October 2009, I underwent a total of three operations. The first operation was done to remove the affected decaying tissue. I was hooked on to a V.A.C.[1] machine to drain fluid from the wound and to promote new tissue growth. I also had three bags of blood infusion due to a blood infection from the wound. My neurologist told me that I could have died if treatment had been delayed. The second operation was about six weeks later. There was no improvement, and as my tailbone was affected, it had to be removed. The third operation took place about two months later. There was still no improvement and the recovery was slow. At this point in time, I could only cast my worries and cares upon God, for He cares for me (1 Pet 5:7).

As the use of the V.A.C. machine was very costly, the plastic surgeon suggested rotating the buttock tissues to cover the hole, and I agreed without hesitation. The suggestion proved effective and both my husband and the doctor were surprised at the immediate improvement! Just as the Scriptures say: “The Lord nurses them when they are sick and restores them to health” (Ps 41:3, NLT) and “Cast your burden on the Lord, [a]nd He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved” (Ps 55:22).

Even though I had to lie on my side for three weeks and was not able to feed or to clean myself, I thank God, that at that time, my helper, Heide, and two church sisters took turns to wash and feed me. Moreover, by God’s grace, my costly medical expenses were absorbed by the company and insurance until 2010 when I officially stopped working. I then received a lump sum of money from my company, which, together with personal insurance claims, enabled us to pay for my medical expenses.

I once asked my neurologist, “Doctor, what is the worst case scenario for my condition?” He answered, “Paralysis and being bedridden.” But Philippians 4:6-7 reminds me to “[b]e anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

I thank God that according to the doctor, my condition is now stable. I ask God to grant me the physical strength to exercise. I know that He is listening when we make requests, and we can be sure that He will give us what we ask for (1 Jn 5:15). Matthew 6:34 also says, “…do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Thus, I live each day, one day at a time. I also thank God for each day and for each Sabbath that I can attend, despite being wheelchair-bound, for I remember that there may be someone who cannot come to church or who may not even awake to see the day. We may encounter trials and tribulations, but valuable life lessons in long suffering, endurance and perseverance are learned on our journey of faith.

May all glory be given to God. Amen.

[1] V.A.C. stands for Vacuum Assisted Closure.

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Author: Mary Lee