A Case of Mistaken Identity

I’m known in the medical community as a cancer patient.  Yet, from the very beginning of this journey, I have balked at that label.  It isn’t that I doubted the diagnosis, or that I thought it should have been for someone else.  It really wasn’t the natural part of it at all.  It was the Spirit of Christ in me refusing to accept that identity.

At first, I didn’t understand it so clearly.  The well-meaning nurse called me from the waiting room with such an almost audible “Poor thing” in her expression as she ushered me back for the diagnosis.  I hadn’t anticipated the pity, nor my internal reaction.  I was repulsed by the pity, and determined I wanted no part of it during this journey.  It just didn’t belong to me.

Two days later, we were at the specialist’s office.  When I arrived and saw the big, bold letters proudly declaring Derrick Davis Cancer Center, it felt like a punch in my gut.  It was surreal to me, because it was so new to my thought processes.  But there was still that voice inside insisting I didn’t belong here.

A month later, I was recovering from a hysterectomy.  The nurse assigned to me explained the daily shots required, even at home, to reduce the chance of blood clots.  Some people only have them for a few days, she said, while others continue injections for a couple of weeks.  We decided we’d both like for me to be one of those few day types.  The doctor’s explanation, however, was that cancer patients have a greater possibility of developing clots following surgery.  He said more, but I didn’t really hear the rest, because the voice inside surprised me.  “I am not a cancer patient!  I had cancer, and I’ve had surgery to remove it, but I am not a cancer patient.”  Now I understood the battle more clearly.

Approximately six weeks later, on what I thought would be my final visit with the oncology doctor,  I found out that I will see him every three months for the next two years for a pap smear, with a chest x-ray every six months.  For the following three years, there will be a pap smear every six months, along with one x-ray per year.  This is required even though the lab results showed no trace of cancer in any of the 23 lymph nodes they removed, and none of the tests prior to surgery indicated anything else of concern.  You see, as I said in the beginning, I’m known as a cancer patient by the medical community, and probably always will be.  But cancer patient is not my identity.

Neither am I a cancer survivor.  Cancer was found in my body, but it could not become my identity, because I am in Christ and Christ is in me, the hope of glory.  Cancer has no place in my identity.  In Christ, I am not a survivor of anything.  I am more than a conqueror through Him Who loved me!  This is my identity.

Certainly, this time of my life has had quite a profound impact, and I will never forget it.  But my focus is on Jesus and what He did before, during, and after the crisis.  Jesus Christ, the Living Word, strengthened and encouraged me in my darkest times.  Jesus Christ, the living Word, went before me to bear even this cancer so I could walk in health.  No matter how the world identifies me, I know that the Greater One lives in me.  In Him, in Jesus Christ, I live and move and have my being.  My identity is in Christ alone!

Real Joy (chorus)

Joy, real joy, running all through me
And I’ve got hope, love, and life abundantly
And now I’m free to live in my identity
Well it’s not because of what I’ve done.  No.  No.
But what He’s done for me.

New Song Fellowship Celebration Choir – Portraits of Worship, Volume 2