I remember the moment I received “the phone call” from my wife Mary. It was a Friday night in July 1997, and I was alone in my motel room. I had been fishing the Canadian Bass Championship on Rainy Lake.
“Al,” she spoke slowly, “ the mammogram I took on Wednesday showed a lump on my breast. The doctor has scheduled me for surgery on Tuesday at 7 a.m.”
It took awhile for her words to sink in, but when they finally did, I felt their force and was glad I was sitting down. My first response was, “Mary, let’s pray,” which we did. And then I said, “I’m packing up and coming home right away.”
Mary’s response was as calm as the evening lake. “No,” she said. “Stay and fish the tournament. There’s really nothing you can do here, and I’ll be just fine.”
We talked for a while and prayed again before saying good-bye. Then I took a long walk . . . with God. We needed to talk, and I had a lot on my heart. By the time I was nearly back to my room, I felt a peace begin to come over me. And when I was crossing the parking lot of a tire store across the street from the motel, I heard the Lord’s still small voice whisper, “Don’t worry. Mary will be okay.”
With that amazing reassurance, I finished out the tournament through Sunday and immediately headed home. That evening, and all day Monday, Mary was amazingly calm. She went about her normal routine, read healing scriptures, listened to tapes, and I heard her quote, “by his stripes I am healed and whole.” (1 Peter 2:24) That’s my Mary for you.
“It’s a done deal. I’ll be fine,” she said, recalling a song we sing in church that declares: “Whose report are you going to believe? I will believe the report of the Lord!” So Mary’s response to the doctor was always: “I’m expecting a good report!”
Early Tuesday morning, we arrived at the hospital along with one of our church pastors. He and I laid hands on Mary and prayed for her, and then the nurses wheeled her out to the surgery room. Forty-five minutes later the doctor came back out.
“Mary’s lump was cancerous,” he said. “We cut it out along with twelve lymph nodes, which have been sent to Minneapolis. We should have the report back on Thursday.”
I was momentarily stunned. This was not the “good report” I was expecting. But again, the peace of God came over my heart, and I heard the words: “She’ll be okay.”
As I went into the recovery room, the doctor was telling Mary the lump was cancerous. Again, she looked at me, smiled, and said, “I’ll be just fine, Al. I’m expecting a good report.”
Mary was checked out of the hospital on Wednesday, and as we drove home she was all smiles – praising God and laughing! She hadn’t even taken a pain pill yet. (I would have taken the whole bottle by then.) To her, the surgery was nothing more than a trip to the dentist to get a tooth filled. Her words to me were: “Honey, I’m fine.”
That night, Mary slept on a recliner. She still had a drain tube attached, and the recliner provided the only comfortable sleeping position.
I went to bed alone, unaware of what I was about to face. For the first time, doubt and fear came over me like a heavy blanket. I had the craziest, most insane thoughts I could ever imagine – thoughts only the author of insanity himself, the devil, could send my way. The fiery darts of the master deceiver battered me with dread and mistrust throughout the night as I stood on these words from God: “For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7, NKJV)
I rose early the next morning, having survived one of the most miserable nights of my life, and walked downstairs to check on Mary. It was daybreak, and long shafts of golden light were streaming thorough the window and casting a soft glow about her. She was sleeping like a baby with a smile on her face.
Nevertheless, another wave of fear rushed over me, defying the peace I saw so evidently on Mary’s face. I went outside where I could quote scriptures out loud and came boldly before the throne of God. I cried, “Lord, you say in your Word…” when suddenly it felt as though my arm was grabbed and shaken. I heard the Lord speak to my heart: “Stop! I said she will be okay!”
With a big sigh of relief, I went back inside, having finally gotten the message from my head to my heart.
We waited four or five days for the report to come back. When the doctor finally called with the good news that everything was fine, Mary looked at me and said, “I knew that. I was expecting a good report.” We both praised and thanked God for His Word and the power of prayer.
Mary underwent thirty-two days of radiation and was put on medication for five years. It has been over four years as of this writing, and she has remained whole and healed – cancer free.