I walked out of a meeting on Tuesday afternoon and checked my phone for messages. The moment I heard my friend Teri’s wavering voice asking me to call her back, I had that sinking feeling – you know, the one that hits you in the belly just as the roller coaster is coming over that first hill after the long, slow climb to the top. I punched her number, and she greeted me with the words, “Pam has breast cancer.”
Pam, 27, is Teri’s daughter and is the mother of two young children. She’s been told she has a particularly virulent form of the disease. She is having a port installed today, and will begin chemo next week. Pam and her family moved to Houston a few months ago. They thought it was so Pam’s husband could begin a new job, but it turns out that she is in the backyard of the premier cancer treatment facilities in the country. Also in Pam’s new “hometown” – her mom’s identical twin sister, Charm, herself a breast cancer survivor, and an extended family network who are poised to care Pam and her crew as she begins her treatment.
When I first met the twins in high school, they were periodically involved in caring for their grandmother as she battled breast cancer. When they were young adults, they cared for their mother as she fought the disease. Weeks before their mom died, Charm was diagnosed with breast cancer. Though the disease has shadowed the pair of them throughout their lives, neither lives as a victim. They are survivors.
In fact, just last week, Teri and I had an rare opportunity to meet for coffee, and she listened to me as I poured out my sorrow and concern over my own daughter’s recent diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis. I left the conversation knowing that Teri’s ongoing prayers for my daughter and her family come out of a place of spiritual depth. That deep well of faith in Christ in Teri and in her sister Charm have been largely shaped by the losses they’ve experienced and the suffering they’ve encountered.
Now, it is my turn to pray for Pam, for her husband and kids, for her mom and aunt, and for the rest of the extended family. (The psalm below is where I’m beginning.) And if you have read this far, maybe you’d like to join me – even a single “arrow prayer” in this moment can make a difference for this young woman and for those who will be the hands and feet of Christ to her as she begins chemo.
They’ve set up a facebook page with prayer updates for Pam here.
1 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
3 Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
5 You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day,
6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.
7 A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.
8 You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.
9 If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,” and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
14 “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”