His lips quivered, and his eyes filled with mist that threatened to overflow like Niagra Falls. His young man body pulled into himself and suddenly looked like the little boy he really was…meek, timid, and afraid; my youngest son reaching toward adulthood yet part of him clinging onto childhood, either way too young for the imaginations now running through his mind.
Next to him sat my older son, trying hard to maintain eye contact, but afraid to sustain it for fear that if he did, the tears would come and then his younger brother would be assured there was reason for his fears to be actualized. His voice but a whisper as he acknowledged our words. Shifting mechanically, almost robotically, unable to get comfortable, almost out of reverence for the gravity of what he had just been told, he held himself up on the bed on one stiff arm.
Never imagining having to tell my children such difficult words, prickly tears flowed down by cheeks past my chin and down my knotted throat. Unable to offer any promises or certainty, no cotton candy or pony rides, no sunshine or rainbows, all I could give was warm hugs. Yet all the while my mind raced with strategic plans faster than pentagon sessions: alerting family and friends, planning freezer meals, realigning my office schedule so I could be at doctor’s appointments and chemotherapy sessions, canceling conferences and travel, in short, making my husband and family the only priority after God.
Friends and family were stunned. Words were either in short supply or stumbled and tripped over. Sometimes Bible verses were thrown at length hoping they would, I guess, somehow make things seem better or at least soothe the conscience of the deliverer. It’s always awkward when we hear a loved one is hurting or ill, or worse, has cancer. I’ve been on that end too; what can I say that would make any difference or bring any comfort?
Cancer doesn’t just affect the diagnosed…it effects everyone in the family, and it often extends to friends and loved ones outside the immediate family. Or as my husband once said after he received his third cancer diagnosis, “it’s not my cancer, it’s our family’s cancer.”
Being an author, a speaker, and many people’s doctor as their neuropsychologist, I’m often looked to for answers. What to do when life gets hard. Answers for how to handle the difficult situations: Like having a prodigal child; like having a parent or spouse with dementia; like having a diagnosis or a family member with a diagnosis of cancer. Even now, in our current situation, people watch. How will I, and my family, handle this gut-wrenching ordeal that we are facing? No different than any other situation we’ve ever endured: on our knees in prayer, and with great vulnerability and transparency.
We don’t understand why this is happening, but we’re really not concerned with answering the question “Why?” I’ve come to realize that I don’t get to determine either the trials we walk through or the way that God will provide for us through them. But I do get to decide whether or not I will place my trust in Him, and thank Him throughout that He never leaves us to go through the trials alone, because I truly do not know how people make it through the difficult times in life without the hope that a personal relationship with God provides! I’ve also come to realize that a more important question is, “God, what do you want me to learn through this?”
Because people are watching me and my family as we walk through a painful, life and death ordeal, it gives us an opportunity to openly share with them lessons that we have learned. It affords us the chance to share the basis of the hope that we rest in. Just as our experience with cancer doesn’t just affect our own family, neither does our faith just impact ourselves. People watch how we behave, and listen to what we say. Our faith, or lack thereof as the case may be, for some, impacts others as well. A person’s experience with cancer, or with faith, does not exist in isolation, but has the potential to positively or negatively influence others. How will you use your influence?
“But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:15).
In both cancer, and faith, because of Him, #HopePrevails!
(If you have a question you’d like Dr. B to answer, contact her here now. Your name and identity will be kept confidential.)
A short brief about Hope Prevails.
Insights from a Doctor’s Personal Journey through Depression
Dr. Michelle Bengtson
Speaking from personal and professional experience, a neuropsychologist unpacks what depression is, shows how it affects us spiritually, and offers hope for living the abundant life.
Neuropsychologist Offers Hope to Those Struggling with Depression
-By 2020, depression will be our greatest epidemic worldwide
- An estimated 350 million people worldwide suffer from some form of depression
- Helpful features include personal stories, biblical truths, prayers, and music recommendations
In Hope Prevails, Dr. Bengtson writes with deep compassion and empathy, blending her extensive training and faith, to offer readers a hope that is grounded in God’s love and grace. She helps readers understand what depression is, how it affects them spiritually, and what, by God’s grace, it cannot do. The result is a treatment plan that addresses the whole person—not just chemical imbalances in the brain.
For those who struggle with depression and those that want to help them, Hope Prevails offers real hope for the future.
Hope Prevails is available now wherever books are sold. To find out more, see: https://drmichellebengtson.com/hope-prevails-book/.