What Cancer Cannot Do

A Saturday morning with no plans . . . one of my favorite things.

The phone rings.

The largest quilt show in California is this weekend. Would I like to go?

I would. Only I’m not really quilting that much anymore. It’s an expensive hobby. But I still love to peruse the aisles, admiring the handiwork of those much more creative than I could ever hope to be.

My friend searches for a particular vendor that sales fabric with scripture printed on the cloth. Hours go by. We can’t find what she is looking for, but we’ve been inspired plenty.

Then, on the last turn, the last row, we find it. An entire display of silk-screened fabric. Square blocks with favorite verses. My friend dives in while I wade near the edge.

A hanging quilt arrests my attention.


The noise of shoppers dissipates as I become wholly unaware of my surroundings. The littlest of rectangles. The shortest of words. They speak what my heart has failed to find. They speak hope.

Gripping my newly purchased cloth, I know I have just days to finish it.

My mom calls. The time is near.

We pack up and march across the country. During the briefest of hours, at night in each hotel, I hand-stitch the binding under lamplight. Albuquerque. Oklahoma. Nashville. Three hotel stays and it is finished.

When someone you love is dying, what can you say? What can anyone say? To face death, with less than four decades of life lived, words fail.

I offer what my hands have made; each stitch sewn with prayer.

Four months later, cancer claims another life. My cousin. He was only 39. Now, my words are many. Words of confusion and anguish and questions. The words of Job come to mind:

“Shall we accept good from God and not trouble?” (Job 2:10)

A book I’m reading speaks of giving thanks – eucharisteo – for both the good and the hard.

Learning to give thanks for the hard, the painful, the – dare I say it? – the unfair. To give thanks on this day, I must practice the hard eucharisteo.

I search for new words. None come.

Then I remember what cancer cannot do. I remember. I give thanks . . .

21. Cancer cannot silence courage.
22. Cancer cannot erase memories.

23. Cancer cannot invade the soul.

24. Cancer cannot conquer the spirit.

25. Cancer cannot destroy peace.
26. Cancer cannot shatter hope.

27. Cancer cannot kill friendship.
28. Cancer cannot stifle laughter.

29. Cancer cannot cripple love.

30. Cancer cannot corrode faith.

Faith . . . being sure of what we hope for . . . certain of what we do not see (Hebrews 11:1). I am certain of where my cousin is today. This is eucharisteo.

While reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, I started keeping a list of the things I am thankful for. What are you thankful for today?


Ann Voskamp continues her thoughts on thanksgiving every Monday at aholyexperience.com.

11 thoughts on “What Cancer Cannot Do

  1. Pingback: Time Is Our Gift {…and we get to choose how to open it} | Denise J. Hughes

  2. I saw this poem at a friend's funeral in January and I wrote it down. Another dear friend has just been diagnosed with breast cancer. But these words are like a light shining out in the darkness.

  3. VERY SORRY ABOUT YOUR COUSIN …. I REMEMBER WHEN I LOST MY MOM TO LUNG CANCER IN 1992 …. THE GRIEVING PROCESS WAS LONG AND HARD HOWEVER IN THE END JOYOUS BECAUSE HER PASSING ON TO THE LORD BROUGHT ME TO HIM AS WELL ….I NO LONGER HAVE TO DIE AFRAID OF WHERE I WILL BE ….THIS IS A BEAUTIFUL TRIBUTE TO AN UGLY DISEASE
    ….YOUR SPIRITS WILL MEET AGAIN SOMEDAY WHEN YOU GO TO BE WITH THE LORD UNTIL THEN WE PRAY TO AND PRAISE THE LORD GOD !! ….THE QUILT IS GEORGEOUS .

  4. Very moving post. So sorry about your cousin. Right now our church is in prayer for a long list of cancer patients. I'm ready for the great redemption where all this will be settled … for ever.

    (Note: I can comment with one of my computers but not the other. And then, on one of my computers I can see follower gadgets, on the other I can't. Blogger has me confused).

  5. I remember you and your mom writing about your cousin with cancer. I'm so sorry to read the news of his death but so glad that you know where He is and will see him again one day.

    I love your quilt! How special it is and the words are so true. I'm so glad you are joining in with Ann's thanks list. I have been reading her book and joining in too.

    Blessings and love,
    Debbie

  6. I am awed as I read this! To work as you traveled across the country is amazing! What a gift of love~! I'm sure your mother loved it. I would be honored to have a friend liek you!!

  7. I just found your blog and read this about cancer.  I've a friend racked with it; how does one order the cancer cannot … fabric???

    I am looking forward to reading your writing.  

    Thank you!

    pattym

  8. How your words have touched my heart today!  It's a beautiful way to look at the devastation of cancer.  I doubt there's not many — if any — who haven't been touched with cancer.  You spoke of the Job verse.  At our daughter's funeral our pastor used, “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.  Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

    Blessings,
    Pamela

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