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Choosing Hope, Even with Cancer

3 Oct

Question: What do you call a doctor who is always on the telephone?

Answer: An ON-CALLogist.

Some funny REAL doctor’s notes:

  • Patient has two teenage children, but no other abnormalities.
  • On the second day, the knee was better, and then on the third day, it disappeared.
  • The patient refused autopsy.
  • The patient has no previous history of suicides.
  • Patient’s medical history has been remarkably insignificant with only a 40-pound weight gain in the last three days.
  • She is numb from her toes down.
  • Occasional, constant, infrequent headaches. (1)

Our friend, Yvonne Ortega, is a delightful and caring woman. A professional counselor, Yvonne suddenly found herself “on the other side of the tissue box” when she receive a diagnosis of cancer. So she understands the emotions that come with chronic diseases, and God has given her compassion and a desire to help hurting people.

Yvonne chronicled her choices for hope and joy in the midst of dealing with cancer, and her inspirational readings encourage and bless not only women with cancer, but also those struggling with other chronic diseases. Her wise words also encouraged me (Dawn) in some “everyday” struggles!

Breastj Cancer AwarenessOctober is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a fitting time to highlight Yvonne’s book, Finding Hope for Your Journey through Breast Cancer. The first thing one notices about her book is that it is solidly biblical. Each reading begins with a “Hope Builder” scripture; and she ends each reading with a prayer. But it is the readings themselves, full of practical counseling principles, that bring great insight, inspiration, and encouragement.

One of my favorite readings, because I am all about making wise choices, is “Decision Time.” Yvonne said she wished that angels and trumpet blasts would confirm her treatment decision ~ chemotherapy, radiation, tamoxifen, a combination of these, or an alternative approach. She said she prayed for wisdom daily (Proverbs  8:11; James 1:5), and searched the scriptures.

The Hope Builder for this reading is Psalm 16:7: “I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me.” After doing all she could to be wise concerning her decision ~ asking others to pray for her, making lists of pros and cons, reading literature, looking on the Internet, talking with various people, and watching videos advocating both traditional and alternative methods ~ Yvonne kept looking to the Lord for her ultimate decision confirmation.

She wrote, “In my human frailty, I do not want chemotherapy, radiation, or tamoxifen. Reading a list of all the side effects of that traditional treatment frightens me … an alternative approach sounds better to me; however, I wonder if any of the methods will heal me.” (2)

Yet she knew that whatever she chose, she must walk in the will of God for her life. The doctors gave her two weeks to make a decision.

As the deadlined neared, a series of “coincidences” occurred:

  • Someone offered to take her to the hospital “for chemotherapy.”
  • One of her neighbors volunteered to spend the night with her.
  • A professional colleague told her she would bring over dinner the day “after chemotherapy.”
  • Two friends offered to flush her catheter daily (a catheter surgically inserted into a vein for putting chemotherapy into the body).

Though she continued to pray that God would allow the “cup” of what seemed like God’s will to pass from her, she told God He could have his way ~ “If He wanted me to do both chemotherapy and radiation, I would surrender my will to His.”

As peace swept over her, she fell asleep, sensing she was moving ahead in the direction God wanted her to go.

“As cancer patients, we face monumental decisions,” she wrote. “Whatever we decide, we will live or die with the consequences. I’ve learned to invite God into the process. I don’t always like His answer, but I prefer to be in His will rather than out of it.”

Key thought: “I’ve learned to invite God into the process.”

As I read Yvonne’s words, I prayed, “Lord, I say YOU are my Hope, but how many times do I invite You into the process of my choices ~ not just in the huge decisions of life like Yvonne addressed, but in the simple, everyday choices I make? Do I even care to know what You think? If I call you ‘Lord’ (Master), shouldn’t I ask you for wisdom and direction?”

Sometimes I do ask; but often I don’t. Yvonne’s closing prayer included these words, “I do not trust my own wisdom… May I be attentive to your counsel….”

That’s my prayer today. Is it yours?

Closing Note: Ladies ~ DON’T MISS YOUR MAMMOGRAMS! October is my birthday month, and a perfect time for my check-up. Pam Farrel says she gets hers in her birthday month, too, so she won’t forget. Good idea! Another writer friend, Janet Thompson, wrote a book titled Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer: A Companion Guide for Women on the Breast Cancer Journey. She has a license plate frame that says, “Mammograms Save Lives.” Janet says, “They saved mine three times now.” Again … Don’t miss your mammograms!

Yvonne Ortega

Yvonne Ortega is a ten-year cancer survivor (Yeah!), a Licensed Professional Counselor, Licensed Substance Abuse Treatment Practitioner, and Clinically Certified Domestic Violence Counselor. She is a positive, hope-building speaker, and author. Yvonne also hosts a program for breast cancer patients, and her wonderful website is

(1) “Jokes, mostly about cancer, hospitals, or just life” ~

(2) Yvonne Ortega, Finding Hope for Your Journey through Breast Cancer: 60 Inspirational Readings, (Revell, 2010), pp. 96-97.

[Note:  I do not endorse advertisements that are added to my blog posts without my permission.]

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