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 (Manna 91: Building Altars)
Count It All Joy
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Lok Sze Chan—Edinburgh, UK

In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, I share this testimony.

In September 2018, after my fortieth birthday, I was diagnosed with a very rare cancer: a thirty-centimeter-long liposarcoma tumor in my abdomen. Sarcoma tumors arise in the body's connective and soft tissues, such as bone, fat, or muscle. Mine likely stemmed from a lone fat cell that had gone rogue.


Before I received the actual diagnosis, the only symptom I experienced was a bloated stomach. I thought that I was only putting on weight until my mother asked if I was pregnant. This made me realize that if it were merely stomach fat, it would feel soft and flabby. But instead, it was firm. After a negative pregnancy test, I consulted a doctor who referred me for an ultrasound scan, suspecting an ovarian cyst.

The first ultrasound scan showed my ovaries to be healthy. But the second scan found a large mass around my right kidney, pushing it to the front of my body. The news shocked me and, as I left the hospital with my husband, I was in tears. Suddenly, I felt scared and uncertain of the future. But most of all, I worried for my two young children, only aged seven and ten at the time.

Thankfully, that weekend was the start of the annual spiritual convocation at the church in Edinburgh, and the theme was “Trust in the Lord with All Your Heart.” I remember seeing the words on the banner as I entered the church hall and feeling a rush of comfort and thankfulness. It was as if God knew what I needed. As Christians, we know that we ought to trust God in all things. But in that moment, these words on the banner came alive to me and nourished my soul at a time of immense uncertainty. During the three-day convocation, I was able to lay down my worries and burdens before my heavenly Father. In return, I obtained much-needed encouragement.

During times of trouble, most Christians tend to reflect on their life and faith, correct any wrongdoings and unrighteousness, and draw closer to the Lord. I was no different. The three days spent in the house of God were an excellent opportunity to reflect. I asked for the forgiveness of my sins and weaknesses; for faith to fully believe that He makes all things work for the good of His children (Rom 8:28); and for strength to trust and obey, accepting my Father’s will. I was reminded that God knows what I am going through, and more importantly, He knows what lies ahead. One message stood out:

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience (Jas 1:2–3)

We should count ourselves blessed to be worthy of undergoing trials, as these refine our faith. Hence, I resolved to face my trial of sickness with joy and courage, and count myself blessed.


Two weeks later, I underwent a CT scan, which confirmed the diagnosis of a sarcoma tumor. Thank God, it did not indicate any signs of metastasis (spreading) to the lymph nodes or other sites.

With the unexpected diagnosis of this rare cancer, I could do nothing but commit the matter to prayer. After searching the definition of the term “sarcoma” on the internet, I decided not to research any further. I would hand over the matter to my heavenly Father, trusting that my life is in His hands. I knew the facts were terrifying, but I also believed that what is impossible with man is possible with God. I held on to this belief and begged God for a way out while learning to accept His will. I took statutory sick leave from work but continued to carry out church duties and spent more time in spiritual cultivation.

One hymn I found particularly comforting was Only Believe,[1] particularly the second verse, as it reminded me:

Fear not, little flock, He goeth ahead,
Your Shepherd selecteth the path you must tread;
The waters of Marah He’ll sweeten for thee—
He drank all the bitter in Gethsemane.

Furthermore, I was greatly encouraged by a group of brethren who had started a daily 9:00 p.m. prayer to intercede for the sick, including myself. At that time, several brethren in my local church had been diagnosed with cancer. Each night, I looked forward to this prayer, and both my husband and I truly felt strengthened and at peace, despite the circumstances. We had never experienced the power of intercession like this before. We felt very blessed knowing that so many brethren were praying with us and for us. Text messages, flowers, gifts, and cards started pouring in from family, brethren, and friends from around the UK, adding to the peace, love, and comfort that my family and I experienced.

On October 8, I had a biopsy. While lying on the bed for the procedure, my legs started shaking. But my heart was calm. I found peace and strength through singing hymns out loud and making silent prayers. My husband held my hand throughout, praying and sobbing quietly. The doctor attempted six times to obtain a tissue sample. On the first two attempts, the needle bent when trying to penetrate the tumor. On the third and fourth attempts, the doctor used a thicker needle and managed to obtain a tiny sample. The fifth attempt was unsuccessful but also the most painful. The doctor advised that he would stop as he could see I was in severe pain. However, I asked him to try one more time, and on this sixth attempt, my husband and I prayed out loud in tongues. By God’s grace, the doctor could obtain a substantial sample, and I felt no pain at all!

Four days later, we met the surgical oncologist to find out the next steps. In the waiting room, I asked my husband how he felt. Thank God, he replied that he was at peace and knew that God would not let us face something that we could not bear. After exchanging pleasantries, the surgeon told us that he could operate on me and was confident that he could remove the tumor altogether. He booked me in for October 24, in twelve days’ time.

Due to the tumor's size, the surgeon advised that the operation would take at least six hours and that I would end up with a long scar. Though my right kidney was healthy, it had to be removed since the tumor had grown around it, and there was a possibility that my right ovary and parts of my bowel would have to be removed too. Despite this information, my husband and I felt great relief, joy, and gratitude! Even when the surgeon described the risks associated with such a major surgery and the long recovery time afterward, we did not feel worried. We had prayed for a way out, and God had answered our prayers and those of our brethren.


During the church prayer on the Sabbath day before my operation, I asked my heavenly Father if He could hold my hand or embrace me during the operation and send His angels to surround and protect me. Later that evening, one church co-worker sent a Bible verse to our WhatsApp group, which gave me great comfort and encouragement. She quoted from Psalm 91:11, “For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways.”

On October 24, at 9:30 a.m., I was wheeled into the Western General Hospital's anesthetic room. My heart felt truly at peace and even a little excited! I knew that my life was in God’s hands, and I had no need to fear. As the staff prepared to inject my spine with a spinal block, I sang Only Believe out loud and was surprised that I felt no pain at all.

My next memory was being wheeled out from the operating theatre post-surgery, at around 1:30 p.m. I recall the surgeons telling me that the operation had gone “swimmingly well” and that it had taken only four hours as they did not need to remove any other organs apart from the tumor and the right kidney.

Though I felt disoriented, having just woken up from the anesthetics, I remember feeling profoundly humbled and in awe of God’s wondrous grace and love. I wanted to cry and praise God as He had answered all my requests: He gave me a way out in the form of an operation; He left my other organs untouched; He protected me throughout the process by taking away my fear and giving me peace, and He allowed me to wake up after the surgery.

A few days later, I learned that my fellow patients in the Surgical High Dependency Ward also had

spinal blocks, but they experienced varying degrees of severe pain, whereas I had felt none. This was further testimony of God’s mercy.

I was hospitalized for eight days, with no further complications. Thereafter, my recovery was smooth. As the tumor had not spread, I did not require follow-up chemotherapy or radiotherapy. I only needed to have a CT scan every six months for the next ten years, along with annual checks.

When I first consulted the doctor on my bloated stomach, I also had a very dark mark on one toe. The doctor suspected possible skin cancer and referred me to the dermatology clinic. We decided not to share this with our wider family until a diagnosis was confirmed, as the tumor was already enough of a worry for them. Instead, we added this matter to our prayers. Around a month after the sarcoma tumor operation, I visited the dermatologist. Thank the Lord, after a few minutes of examination, it turned out the dark mark was merely a blood clot that would eventually disappear. Once again, I felt deeply humbled and in awe of God’s mercy.

After one year off to physically and mentally recover, I returned to work, with my employers arranging a sympathetic and gradual phase-back plan. I now realize that having the health to work is a blessing from God and not something to take for granted.

The tumor weighed three kilograms (around six pounds and ten ounces), which was my son's weight when he was born! I had to have forty metal staples to hold the incision together. Many found it hard to believe that a tumor this size and weight had been growing inside me. However, this unbelievable fact demonstrated God’s almighty power. And now, my scar constantly reminds me of His wondrous grace, love, and mercy on my family and me.

Many brethren sent me beautiful reminders of God’s word by way of encouragement. One verse that stays profoundly with me every day since my diagnosis is from Isaiah 41:10:

“Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you.
Yes, I will help you.
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”

May all praise, glory, and honor be ascribed to our heavenly Father! Amen.

Sister Lok Sze and her family, two months after the surgery, at the 2019 Thanksgiving Service, True Jesus Church in Edinburgh, UK.

[1] By Paul Rader (1879–1938).

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Author: Lok Sze Chan
Publisher: True Jesus Church
Date: 05/24/2021