When Wanda’s* son, Brian, was tragically killed in a car wreck in 1996, she didn’t have any praise to bring.
* Her real name, used with permission.
Even though she was angry at God for the loss of her son, she never blamed Him. “That first year was a blur. I knew I needed God, so I prayed. Over time, I felt Him pulling me back into a relationship with Him,” she shared.
It was a decade later at a Women of Faith conference that she made a decision to quit trying to do everything herself. She rededicated her life to God and gave the reigns back to Him.
Wanda’s husband, Jerry, faced a diagnosis of throat cancer in September of 2012. The causes? Carcinoma, as he was a former smoker. And a strain of the HPV virus.
During his chemo and radiation treatments, Wanda and Jerry believed he would be healed. Wanda took an early retirement from teaching to help care for him.
Being a care-giver is tough work. Wanda needed an outlet. As she enjoyed exercising in the past, she decided to join Cross Fit.
Not only was exercising a great stress reliever from care giving, but she started to see a difference in her overall health.
Difficulty with swallowing and losing a lot of weight frustrated him, but learning his treatments were effective in destroying the cancer cells made it all worth it. By January of 2013, Jerry’s cancer was gone.
Once he was completely healed, Jerry decided to join Wanda with working out at Cross Fit, knowing he would enjoy better overall health, too.
In September of 2014, Wanda and Jerry won 2nd place in their age division in a Cross Fit tournament.
Jerry and Wanda focused on finding a church family now that his cancer was behind them. “We had much to be thankful for and, I wanted to bring my praise to God,” Wanda shared.
She dove in deep with studying God’s Word. The relationship with God she longed for, she found by learning more about Him.
Three years after Jerry’s diagnosis, Wanda began experiencing swelling in her tonsils, sore throats, and difficulty swallowing.
A painful biopsy revealed she had throat cancer. Even though she smoked when she was younger, her cancer wasn’t caused by smoking. A different strain of the HPV virus from Jerry’s was the cause.
Her oncologist wanted to remove the cancerous tumor, but it was pushing against her carotid artery.
Chemo and radiation treatments started the week of Thanksgiving 2015. “Because Jerry went through cancer treatments first, he showed a great deal of insight about how to stay positive during treatments and compassion for me when I wasn’t feeling well,” Wanda shared.
“I learned to truly give it to God from the beginning and not to carry any of it myself,” Wanda shared. “In fact, I would not claim I had cancer. Instead, I claimed God’s healing.”
Before every treatment, Wanda prayed several verses. One verse she prayed was Mark 11:22-24.
Initially she didn’t experience problems with swallowing or choking, but she struggled with keeping anything down. The anti-nausea medication wasn’t helping. And as a result, she stayed dehydrated.
Her potassium and magnesium levels dropped out. “My body became so weak that I couldn’t walk without help.”
Finding a vein to administer treatments for each of her eight infusions, as well as extra IV’s for fluids and potassium, became the biggest obstacle in her journey.
Her heart raced, and her anxiety grew with each infusion. Because swallowing was becoming more and more difficult, the oncologist required her to see a swallowing specialist.
“I think your body is so weak that all you can focus on is staying alive. Your brain is telling you you’re going to throw up whatever you take in. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.”
Wanda knew her words were true. The anxiety medicine he prescribed helped calm her before she ate. And as a result, she began keeping food down.
The last IV of fluids and potassium was a turning point in Wanda’s journey. Once again, the nurse had difficulty finding a vein. Exasperated, Wanda prayed, “I can’t do this anymore, God. My healing is manifested, or take me home.”
She felt God’s response: “I told you I would heal you.”
The nurse informed her that she would not come back to them without a port since finding a vein was so difficult. Wanda replied, “That’s fine, because I won’t be back. I’m healed!”
Immediately, the nurse was able to find a vein and administer her fluids and potassium. Wanda did experience healing from throat cancer. In all, Wanda lost 70 pounds during treatments.
Because this weight is a healthier weight for her frame, she works hard to maintain it.
“I never anticipated the struggles I would have with the treatments. If I hadn’t been in good physical shape before my diagnosis and treatments, I believe the process would have taken longer,” Wanda shared.
She returned to her Cross Fit routine about eight to nine months after her diagnosis.
Wanda believed in God’s Word and claimed it throughout Jerry’s health struggle and hers, too. “Had I not already had Scripture memorized, I don’t know that I would have kept going. It sustained me.”
When a husband and wife face life-threatening health struggles at or about the same time, it will tear them apart or draw them closer together.
Wanda believes their marriage is stronger, because they fought and overcame together.
Hillary Scott’s song “Still” is Wanda’s constant reminder that God was working on her behalf.
One verse became her life motto: “I bring my praise before I bring my need.”
Her diagnosis and treatments made her more aware of how important it is to praise God for who He is and all He does for her before she asks for help with her needs.
Take a listen to the powerful lyrics in “Still.”
Any kind of health diagnosis brings to light how powerless we are to control the outcome.
Wanda learned to give her healing and her fears to God as only He has power over the outcome.
“Do not carry any of it,” she begs those who are going through struggles. “Put your faith in God. That’s where your strength comes from.”
She goes on to say, “Overcoming is putting one foot in front of the other. Let God be in control of your struggle. And you must believe in the outcome.”