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Opinion | Family

Breast Cancer Marred My Picture-Perfect Marriage

How we found God’s mercy as we faced deep division we’d never experienced before.
Breast Cancer Marred My Picture-Perfect Marriage

Her death drew me to Jesus.” The comment from an acquaintance was meant to be an encouragement, but what I heard was, “My friend had to die so I could fall in love with Jesus.” It had been three weeks since my own cancer diagnosis, and at that point the unknowns were plentiful. I was continually haunted by the question, Has it spread?

Later, in the quiet of my bedroom, I reflected on the woman’s comment and wept. I cried out to Jesus, trying to submit to his will while at the same time desperately begging God for my life.

As I battled breast cancer, a friend gave me a copy of Sheldon Vanauken’s book, A Severe Mercy. It was the death of Vanauken’s wife, Davy, that solidified his relationship with Christ. In his book, Vanauken speaks of Davy’s death in those terms—as a severe mercy. As something so perfectly good and right and at the same time so painfully hard and heartbreaking.

Was I to be someone else’s severe mercy? My flesh fought the idea, but despite my desire to live, I was compelled to consider that maybe what God had in mind for me was death.

A different sort of death

It turns out that it wasn’t death from breast cancer that would become someone else’s saving grace; but that God, instead, would use my cancer as a severe mercy in my marriage—as the catalyst for a difficult death and rebirth.

My husband, Corey, and I grew incredibly close through my battle with cancer—more intimate by far than at any ...

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