Thousands of you have been following my story since my very first blog post (posted in Boston in July of 2016, which was 2.5 months after my brain surgery). The question I often get is, “I’ve read all your blogs, how have you been able to stay so positive and strong through this?” Well, you asked, and for my one year anniversary of being cancer free, I am going to share with you the most incredible truth I have ever known.
I have no idea how this picture was taken, who took it, or even that it was being taken. But I look at it and I am overwhelmed with words. This is the last time there was any evidence of any cancer in my brain before I was whisked off to the operating room for surgery – exactly one year ago today, on May 9th, 2016. You can see our nervous smiles. At this time, we didn’t know the tumor was cancerous, but regardless we wanted it out.
The appointments that followed the surgery were hard. It seemed that once we heard the tumor was cancerous, every doctor’s appointment that followed cut me like a dagger to the heart. Full of terrifying statistics, unknowns, and fear. Medullablastoma is a pediatric tumor and it is so rare in adults, that doctors constantly told me, “Courtney, we don’t know a successful treatment plan for adults. We know operating, and radiation is helpful…but any success in conventional medicine after that is unknown”. I would also hear, “The statistics in adults are very unfavorable” over and over again. I knew this was bad and that the odds were not in my favor. I was haunted by controversial data and unfavorable numbers.
It was obvious that conventional medicine did not have the answer. But I knew God did. I’m not about to defend any set of religious practices or beliefs. I consider myself to be more spiritual than religious. Of course, it depends what your definition of religion is. If religion to you means simply believing in God, then for sure slap that label on me. But if religion is following a set of rules, obeying commandments, earning God’s approval and favor, “doing right to get right”, then absolutely I am not religious. I believe God is good. It does not matter what you have done, what you are doing, or what you will do; he meets you EXACTLY where you are. I believe He looks at your heart, not your behavior. And I’m not talking about how “good” your heart is. I mean whether it is receptive of His love, His power, and His incredible inheritance.
I also believe that Jesus did in fact walk this planet and that he was exactly who he said he was. I believe he came and gave his life, not just for salvation which is amazing, but he also came so we could have life in abundance (i.e., peace, joy, health, prosperity, protection, etc.), and faith in his finished works is his delivery system!
I’ll never forget the first 3 months after my diagnosis and how much fear was pent up in me. At this time, I would wake in the early hours of the morning, with the word “CANCER” stabbing at me. It seemed like even my subconscious was against me. I would go as far as to picture my funeral, my husband and family burying me into the ground at the age of 24. The emotional pain and shock took its toll on me, as every day I relived a terrible nightmare that was not a nightmare at all, but sadly it was my reality.
I thought, “God, I know you did not do this to me. And I know the doctors don’t have my answers, but you do.” I was reminded of the verse “faith is the substance of all things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). So I thought, “if I’m hoping for healing, then faith is the answer. How do I strengthen my faith?” I was later directed to, “faith comes by hearing the word of God” (Romans 10:17). So, I did just that. I listened to podcast after podcast of positive faith/grace messages (Leon Fontaine, Joseph Prince, and Creflo Dollar just to name a few).
After filling my heart and my mind with these messages over a few months, my first thought in the morning wasn’t “cancer” anymore, but rather, “By his stripes, I am healed!” and “I am more than a conqueror”. Or my favorite, “No weapon formed against me shall prosper”. My heart and mind completely shifted.
As I felt faith overtaking my life, fear lost its hold, and death lost its sting. I began to envision myself going to my future doctors’ appointments and them telling me “your MRI is clear Courtney. It looks great.” By shifting my perspective to God’s view of myself instead of how the world saw me, I could finally enjoy my life despite my battle.
The most incredible part of this journey is that as I began this process of establishing my heart and mind in faith, my body started to align with the truth I knew deep in my spirit. The MRI’s showed “no sign of any cancer”, the evidence of neuropathy (side effect from chemo) left my hands, and continues to leave my feet.
I am not saying I have arrived. I am saying, that I am physically, emotionally, and spiritually better than I was a year ago. I have an MRI at the end of this month, and I will continue to do exactly what I have done since the beginning of this journey. I will rest in Jesus’ finished works, continue to use the shield of faith to guard my heart and mind, and continue to watch my body align with the truth I know in my spirit.
“Courtney what if you get this all wrong? And what if this is the very thing that kills you?” First of all, I would never believe in a lie. But hypothetically speaking, if I were to die from cancer, then at the very least you will know I lived a life full of expectation, peace, and joy instead of fear, worry, and dismay. I would take the former over the latter any day. You see this is win-win. And I am one of cancers worst nightmares.