I was seated in a whitewashed room. Tears streaming down my face, I was crying uncontrollably and hysterically.
The doctor had just told me that I had breast cancer.
I felt as if my entire world had caved in.
I am only in my 30s. How is it possible to have cancer? My children are still so young and I want to watch them grow up. I have dreams and plans for my life. I don’t want to die! It’s only been about 2 years since my youngest child, Caleb, died. My heart is still grieving and now this?! God, what is happening?
And then I woke up.
It was such a horrible, vivid dream. And it continued to haunt me for months.
What seemed to be a nightmare gradually became a revelation. I found myself thinking about the dream, wondering why God had allowed it. Because of the dream, I started doing regular physical checks on my breasts.
Several months later, I was casually doing a physical check before my shower. To my horror, I discovered a hard lump on one of my breasts. I gasped in shock as memories of my dream flooded my mind and struck fear in me.
What should I do? What if I do have cancer? How do I carry on living?
In the weeks ahead, my calendar became filled with numerous hospital visits, checks, scans and biopsies. The news came to me just before Christmas—I had breast cancer.
I met with several doctors and was put on an intensive treatment plan involving chemotherapy, surgery, and radiotherapy.
I was devastated. Why cancer? Why me?
I had been hoping to have another baby after my youngest child passed away just 2 years ago, only to receive a diagnosis that would crush my dreams and wreck my physical body.
Can I find hope again? Will I be able to laugh once more? When will these tears ever end?
Does God Really Love Me?
After receiving my diagnosis, I questioned God’s love for me.
If my Heavenly Father truly loves me, why would He allow me to have cancer? I have already lost my son and it hurts incredibly. Why do I have to go through another trial like this? What is going to happen to my family? How much more can my broken heart take?
Even though I knew in my mind that God loved me, I could not feel God’s love for me in my heart.
But God was patient and loving. He gave me room to lament and cry to Him for weeks on end. Like a child crying to her father, God was allowing me that space to bare my heart and to cry to Him.In the midst of my laments, God gently showed up in the most unexpected of ways—through His people.
A friend texted me one afternoon to offer her help to walk this cancer journey with my two young daughters aged seven and five years old through play therapy. She told me about the deep and lavish love she felt God had for me. When I saw her encouraging and beautiful words on my mobile phone screen, a strange warm feeling flooded my heart and I started to cry. God was saying in the gentlest of ways, “I love you, Hannah.”
God continued to pour forth and lavish His love upon me through many more family members and friends. Words of encouragement continued to flow in—gifts arrived at my doorstep, family and friends affirmed that they were praying for me.
It was as if God had peeled off the scales from my eyes and cracked open the hardness of my heart. I saw a multitude of family and friends standing in the gap to pray for me and cheer me on. It was only through time that I no longer knew through head knowledge alone that God loved me. I experienced an inexplicably deep and lavish love from God within my spirit.
It was such a precious revelation knowing how much God loved me. This divine love gave me strength to persevere through cancer treatment and gave me hope to live each day anew.
Am I Beautiful?
When I found out that I had to go for chemotherapy, I was scared. I had heard stories of the physical pain that cancer patients had to endure whilst undergoing chemotherapy. What would the future hold for me?
My doctor explained all the possible side effects I might experience with chemotherapy. Beyond the fear of physical suffering, there was another side effect of chemotherapy I was very much afraid of—losing my hair.
How would I look without hair? What would people think of me? Could I ever see myself as beautiful again?
I struggled with my appearance and self-worth.
Shortly after I started chemotherapy, I experienced the much-dreaded hair loss.
When I woke up each morning, there would be clumps of hair on my pillow. When I showered, clumps of hair fell with the running water. When I tried to dry and comb my hair, more clumps of hair would fall to the floor.
I could not bring myself to look into the mirror. My hair was thinning out and it was so depressing.
To make matters worse, my eyebrows and eyelashes also began to fall out.
I felt so ugly.
Then God reminded me through His Word and through family and friends that He loved me no matter how I looked. I am beautiful even without any hair. Just when I was feeling unlovable, family and friends lavished words of encouragement, prayers and comfort to fill up my love tank.
I decided to pluck up the courage to shave off whatever hair that remained. That day, as a friend shaved off my hair for me, I felt God’s divine comfort, presence, and peace.
God was doing a quiet and powerful work in my heart. He was telling me how beautiful I was to Him and how beauty was beyond skin deep.
I have learnt through my cancer journey and through the loss of my hair that my heart needs to find security and peace in my identity as a child of God. Whether it is a bald, clean-shaven head or short, cropped hair, I find my comfort and confidence in the Lord. Jesus loves me and gave himself for me (Gal 2:20), therefore I am worthy of love, no matter how I or others think I look.
Living Life Anew
God took me on a journey of receiving a new heart and looking at life through new eyes. It is still mind-blowing to me how God led me to discover that I had breast cancer through a dream before it was too late.
By the grace and power of God, I responded very well to treatment. God has healed me from cancer! I am currently in remission and I give thanks to the Lord for this new lease of life.
No matter what trials you are going through today, take heart that you are not forgotten by Him. God loves you dearly. He has great and unique plans for you. Never give up running this race for Christ!
This article was originally published on Kallos, republished with permission.