“But each day the Lord pours His unfailing love upon me, and through each night I sing His songs, praying to God who gives me life,” (Psalm 42:8).
Stage IV colon and liver cancers were never in my playbook. Yet neither was a surprise to God.
While a Stage IV diagnosis can mean death, God told me I would see victory. I took 12 rounds of some mean chemotherapy to shrink the six tumors. November 1, we removed my gallbladder, my ovaries, and 12 inches of my colon, including the hulking tumor that started it all. Seven weeks later, one third of my liver was removed and four tumors went with it. Finally, the remaining tumor in my liver was microwaved. (Doctors call it “ablation.”) I was cancer free.
For a hot minute.
words + photographs TRACI PRATER
Read “Sidelined, but Fighting,” Traci’s original post here.
Forty-five days after the last surgery, my cancer came right back. On Feb. 7 of this year, I was told I had four new tumors in the remaining portion of my liver. I had a crisis of faith. I didn’t believe God still loved me. I was being handed over to death. At this time, friends started sending me texts and songs and Bible verses to combat the evil I was believing. I also had to read God’s Word for myself. I was seeking His promises.
Doesn’t He keep ALL His promises?
Hadn’t He told me I would see victory?
I started chemo again and scheduled another surgery. On May 24, I went to Barnes-Jewish Hospital for ablation of the four devils. They, too, were microwaved, and I believed I would receive a clear MRI. I did not. There was a 1 cm growth still in my liver, so more chemo was ordered. As of this writing, I took my 27th chemo treatment last Tuesday. I am scheduled for 36 treatments.
Chemotherapy takes a lot from you and a lot out of you. What it takes, it never gives back.
I had a crisis of faith. I didn’t believe God still loved me. I was being handed over to death.
Cancer is the same. It takes. It does not give. But after seeking God every day, and flooding my soul with His goodness though praise and worship, I started seeing things from God’s perspective. For me, cancer has brought laser focus to my reason for being on this Earth. I have been called to worship and serve God. I asked Him to heal me so I could serve Him, but He said, “No.” He said I needed to serve Him now, in this space, in my weakness. So, through tears, I have become dependent upon Him for everything, which is right where He wants me.
“He will cover you with His feathers; He will shelter you with His wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection,” (Psalm 91:4).
COVER Traci Prater with her husband, Tim, and their son, Zane. HERE Traci and Zane; Traci babysitting a friend’s son; Traci sporting a solid motto.
I am truly blessed every other week of my life is awesome. (Chemo weeks are less awesome.) I call off weeks my feel-good weeks. I am grateful I can work my desk job. I am grateful I can watch and listen to my son, Zane, play in the marching band at football games. I can eat outside with friends. I can walk three miles almost every day. I can attend church.
At some point during this grace-filled journey, I began waking up differently. When I wake up, instead of reading my devotion and praying immediately, I thrust my hands towards the sky and flex my hands like a toddler wanting to be picked up. I say, “Good morning, Abba! I need you!” This puts me in my place and the Lord in His. I can do nothing without Him. He has chosen to give me another 24 hours, and I am a sinner who wants to be obedient.
Speaking of obedient.
My husband is a saint. Tim has done everything for me since this nightmare began. He cooks and cleans and mows and waters and works his job and gets Zane and me gas for our cars and answers all of the mail and pays the bills and deals with insurance. If I left anything out, he does that, too. I have no words to describe how loving and wonderful he has been and continues to be. Being a caregiver is not easy. But God has been near and gives him the strength he needs when it gets to be too overwhelming.
ABOVE Traci, Zane, Tim at a marching band gig.
RIGHT Traci, Zane beside a wooden heart Tim created for Traci when she was first diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer.
Our son is a senior in the IB program at Central. He has a very demanding schedule with school, work, tutoring, marching band and cross country. But when he sees me sitting on the couch, he’ll come sit with me for a bit. We laugh over funny video clips he finds on his phone. The Lord has kept him healthy and safe this entire time. Again, I am blessed.
Please know when you are in the middle of something awful, God’s eyes see you. He loves you. He longs to become involved in your struggle – to teach, to love, to reassure, to give you strength you didn’t have before.
Here’s part of a song I love to sing in my worship time with God (usually while unloading the dishwasher!) It is from David Crowder’s 2018 song “No Rival.” Emphasis mine.
“But my God is big, Jericho! So I stand with my fist held high. And my eyes gaze on the Most High, Lord, pour out Your love and Your glory, I know You supporting me, You the authority, I’m right where I’m supposed to be, You have a plan for me, hope and a future, You said it so candidly, So as day after day goes by, When ya’ll ask me to testify, I point my hands to the sky, My God!”David Crowder, “No Rival”
The MRI I had right after I finished that article showed I have a new tumor that wasn’t there in July. I was really hoping the scan would show I was clear and cancer free, but I’m not. The growth is only .4 cm in size, but it’s still there. I’ll have another MRI the first week in December, and if it’s grown, I’ll have to have another procedure to get rid of it.
I will take chemo #29 on Oct. 11, and I will continue to take chemo until Valentine’s Day which will be #36. Then doctors will probably sign me up for another 12 rounds since they found that new tumor. The problem is, the chemo is acting as a damper on the cancer, not a cure. So I get sad, then I get mad, then I go back to the Good Shepherd, and we head out for the next pasture. TP
My name is Traci Prater, and I am 52 years old. I’ve been married to my sweetheart, Tim, for more than 28 years. We have an 18-year-old son, Zane, who is my buddy.
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