Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Cancer, Depression and the Christian

By: Shari A. Miller

As I sit here on this Tuesday night, getting ready to write my blog post for tomorrow, the Lord spoke to me and told me what He wanted me to write about. I thought, "No.....ha, ha, ha, I really, like I mean REALLY don't want to talk to people about that God. I don't want people to know about that and have them think less of me."


"You need to share it."  "But.....God....why?"

"So they can see what I bring you through, that's why."

"Okay God, I will obey."

Falsodex shots, and yes they do hurt as bad as
they look. 
For those of you that don't already know, the doctor's have diagnosed me with stage 4 breast cancer, I was originally diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer 14 years ago. Then after a bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction, 6 rounds of chemo, and 35 rounds of radiation I was cancer free for almost 7 years. Then in November of 2010, it came back, stage 4 breast cancer, that had metastasized to my bones. What being stage 4 means is that it has metastasized to other parts of the body, and I will ALWAYS be on some form of treatment. What treatment I'm on depends upon what works for my body and shrinks the tumors, or at least keeps them stable. I've gone through various hormonal treatments, chemos, and 15 rounds of radiation over these past 7 years.

What I'm currently on now is a form of chemo called Ibrance. It is a pill that I take orally, 3 weeks on and one week off. I also have Falsodex injections that are given into my rear once a month.

Last but not least every 3 months I get an infusion of bone strengthening medicine called Zometa. I do all of this combined with monthly blood draws to make sure my numbers are where they need to be. I also get PET scans once every 3 months to see if the cancer is shrinking, remaining stable or growing.

I am also a Christian, I love the Lord Jesus with all my heart, and it's my life's mission to do His will.

Another thing that you may not know about me is, I also suffer from depression.

Yes, that's right I am a Christian, who has cancer, who suffers from depression.
Most of us that are diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer usually suffer with some form of depression. However, when you add the word Christian into the mix, the suffering of depression usually isn't supposed to happen. Well, I'm here to tell you, as living proof, that it does. 

So much stigma is placed on the words depression, anxiety, or whatever you may have, that people who proclaim to be Christian's feel like these types of words should never be part of our vocabulary. It makes anyone feel upset and ashamed because they are not strong enough to handle these battles on their own. And it's herein that the problem lies....mental health needs to be given the same "respect" that other physical health conditions are given. No one asks to feel depressed or anxious, yet through genetics, environmental factors, and a whole list of other things to add into the mix it does happen. Just like with medical conditions such as heart disease or diabetes, which you can be genetically inclined to inherit, it takes a change in life style, medication and possible various other treatments to make you well. Health conditions such as these are not looked at with negative connotations and neither should mental health issues be looked at with negative connotations.

My story of depression begins all the way back to when I was in elementary school. Due to some things that where happening at home, it at times was not the most pleasant of places to be. It was there that my wiring for being predisposed to depression began. And when cancer reared it's ugly head, so did the depression and the anxiety. It's like all 3 of them took off on a life of their own.

As many of you who fight depression daily know, it is not an easy thing to deal with. When I add metastatic breast cancer into the mix it at times becomes completely overwhelming. Metastatic breast cancer feels like your stuck behind bars, begging for someone to help you escape, but at times, that escape does not come. Cancer brings many fears along with it as well as many questions.

Am I going to die? How much longer do I have to live? Will I get to see my children graduate from high school? Will this treatment work this time? How many side affects go along with this treatment? Will I loose my hair again? Will I have enough energy to live life like a normal person? My tumor markers have gone up?? What does that mean? It's time for another scan? What will the scan show? Where has the cancer moved to now?

As you can imagine, by the time anyone is done reading that list, they've worked themselves into quite a frenzy and  the depression and anxiety have worked itself up into a full force storm.

But, do you wanna know a secret? Do you wanna know what holds me together during those times? The Father God.....oh He is good friends!

"And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast." ~ 1 Peter 5:10

*Please join me next week for Part 2 of Cancer, Depression and the Christian. In next week's post, I'll be talking about how God works through my life as I daily fight the battle of cancer and depression.

It is time for the Woman to Woman Word Filled Wednesday Link Up. We desire to connect women of God with one another and encourage each other in Christ. So grab a cup of coffee or glass of sweet tea, sit back and visit a few blogs. Be encouraged and share your own stories in their comments.

Use hashtag #w2wwordfilledwednesday

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1. Must be a {Christian} faith post.
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  1. Dear Shari,
    I had not heard and am grateful you are sharing your story. Grateful because it will encourage others and now, others can also be praying for you as well. May God continue to keep you and strengthen you and use you for His purposes and to the glory of His Name! xo

  2. Oh, Shari, my heart aches for you and, at the same time, is so proud of the brave stand you've taken. It isn't easy to declare that Christians can struggle with depression too. We've put so many Christian "should" and "shouldn't" out there it's hard to stand under the pressures of them. It is a daily battle, isn't it? I'm so sorry you're traveling this journey of cancer and depression. I pray 2 Chronicles 16:9 over you, my friend: May the Lord, who eyes range throughout the earth, strengthen you, Shari. You whose heart is fully committed to Him. May He strengthen your body as He fights this cancer battle for you. May He give peace to your mind as He guards you from depression with the mind of Christ. I'm praying for you!!

  3. Shari, thank you for putting the whole story on the table. There is so much guilt around depression (and all forms of mental illness) because those of us in the church do not understand it well. Your brave sharing is a start. Thanks for your obedience to God on this test.

  4. Shari, thank you for being vulnerable and sharing your story with us. I too have suffered from depression all of my life but don't admit it to many people because they don't believe me or think less of me, especially christians. But with what you are going through, you especially have every reason to be depressed and emotionally overwhelmed. Some people with less strength would be curled up in a closet or crying like a baby. But because we have a Higher Strength, we/you have pulled on your armor and reached out to the One who can give you the things you need to make it through this obstacle. Praise God for you! Continue to be our hero and we will continue to pray for you. Blessing to you...

  5. Praying for you, Shari! Many blessings!

  6. Thank you for sharing this. I can well imagine depression as a part of cancer - I've had brushes with it in lesser health issues. The Psalms and other Scriptures are such balm for the soul. Looking forward to hearing more.

  7. Shari, I wasn't aware of your battle with cancer. I won't even pretend to understand what it must be like. Praying that the Great Physician brings you healing and the God of all Comfort comforts you.

    1 Peter 5:10 is one of my favorite verses, but I don't think I ever put it in the context of sickness. What an encouraging application.

    I so appreciated what you wrote about being a Christian and suffering with depression and/or anxiety. I have suffered with anxiety my entire life. Anxiety runs in our family. I too can feel ashamed for feeling that way or thinking what a poor testimony I am being. But God... It was anxiety that ultimately drew me to the Lord and keeps me close to Him.

    Thanks so much for sharing your journey and this encouragement.

    May the God of peace fill you with His peace.


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