When Cancer Pulls the Rug Out from under You
Linda Decker’s husband, Rod, died after a battle
with cancer. Not long before his death, he wrote,
“That which most often brings tears unbidden to
my eyes is thinking of my dear wife, who will be left
alone when I go Home. We have lived, loved, and
ministered together for nearly 40 years, she caring
for me and I for her. Though I have done what I can
to prepare and provide for her down the road, there
is a personal sense of helplessness that sometimes
overwhelms. But at that point I must trust my
Savior, Who will never leave her nor forsake her and
Who has special concern for widows and orphans.”
Here Linda shares some of her own thoughts.
I would be lying if I said the arrival of cancer into our lives
had no impact. The news pulled the rug out from under us for
a while—especially after two years when we thought the cancer had been treated. Its return at stage 4 was a shock, to put
it mildly. However, I think the process of dealing with Rod’s
cancer might have been aided a bit by a previous “rug puller.”
Sixteen years earlier we faced a similar announcement when
I was diagnosed with melanoma. In both cases I don’t think
either of us questioned God as to why, but we did wonder
what He had in store for us as a result of the unexpected bends
in the road on our journey through life.
Our knowledge of Scripture and our faith in an all-wise,
all-loving God helped us. Knowing God’s purpose for our lives
(to glorify Him in all things) and that our days were numbered
before the foundation of the world reminded us that God (and
not us) is in control. We believed it, taught it, and now we
would have the opportunity to show that it made a difference
in how we responded. Our desire has always been to allow
God to shape our lives to be better used by Him to touch the
lives of others. Cancer has been like sandpaper on wood and
water on stone, both working as polishers to smooth the wood
and stone to a finished product. God can use everything in our
lives to polish us to make us into His finished product.
One area in our lives most impacted by Rod’s cancer was
that of letting go of each other. One discovers how selfish
they are when asked to let go of someone they hold so dearly.
But death cannot be stopped or controlled. When the time
comes for one to leave this world in death, there is a void left
by the loss, but life goes on and God’s purpose for the survivor
remains the same.
Another area was watching our children cope with losing
Dad to cancer. Yet in that process, we have seen that the truths
Rod and I taught and lived before them have led them to trust
God in their own lives during this journey. We cry together,
but not as those who have no hope. Our hope is a Biblical
hope—a confidence or assurance in God, not a wishful desire
for our own comfort. God remains good and faithful. We feel
stronger as a result of this journey, even though it has been a
hard path and one we wouldn’t have chosen ourselves.
Our reconciliation with cancer hasn’t been so very different
from other major changes or challenges in our lives. Knowing
that God is in control of every aspect of our lives overflows
into this journey through cancer (or what we believe and teach
is in vain). Many things happen in life over which we have no
control. To some people, cancer might appear to be a bigger
or harder challenge to deal with than some others. Perhaps it’s
because we can’t see God’s overall plan or understand why. But
we know that God in His infinite grace and mercy is walking
this journey with us. Our future isn’t bleak. Although I will miss
Rod dearly, I know it’s not the end but just the beginning of a
new journey for both of us until one day I also leave this life.
As we looked back, we could both say it was not an easy trip
physically, but it was a good journey. We met many wonderful people on whom we hope we’ve left an imprint through
our contact as much as they have touched our lives. We only
desired to finish the course well and be faithful to the end.
Linda Decker was married to Rodney J. Decker for 39 years.
by LINDA DECKER