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I had cancer. I hate cancer. I’m sick of cancer: Emotional and it’s OK logo

Read the latest in our friend Rachel Shaneyfelt’s journey as she shares her emotional transition in to the newest chapter of her life.

On July 2nd of this summer, I started my new job as a family nurse practitioner in the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit at University of Alabama Birmingham – the only comprehensive cancer facility here in the state of Alabama. It’s the first full time job that I have held since the dreaded diagnosis of mesothelioma. This direction was an odd path that was chosen for me, as I didn’t want to work with cancer patients. I had cancer. I hate cancer. I’m sick of cancer. I don’t want to deal with cancer. I hate the word cancer. CANCER SUCKS!!! Now that that is out of my system– where was I?

Being a previous registered staff nurse at UAB placed me in a position of being recognized as an “active employee”, although I was on medical leave and I had to surrender my previous position in cardiac care. Returning to active employment as a family nurse practitioner was a very different ball of wax as there were no cardiac NP jobs available. So when my nursing recruiter called asking me if I would consider bone marrow, I said in my best fake happy voice, “Of course I would be interested. I can’t wait for the opportunity”. I was up for finding a job in this horrible economy, but what was God up to?

My first interview was encouraging, as I did not experience that “chemo” smell that I was so afraid to revisit. I was terrified that being in this hospital unit of cancer patients I was going to smell or see something that would make me relive the most horrible time of my life— my experience with mesothelioma. Thankfully, and much to my surprise, it didn’t. The nurse manager was kind as she told me about the greatness of the bone marrow unit. The clinic coordinator was a small framed, Indian lady who would talk to me while looking over her glasses, as though to really focus on me. I loved her smile. Although she was a tough cookie, she was quite delightful. Then there it was, that ever-present queasiness in my gut. As I left I gave the best I’m not your girl good-bye saying, “If I don’t see you guys again, thanks so much for letting me come and meet you all.” I went on my way to search the job site again for any possible openings in a different field.

I sought God. I asked my small group at church to pray for direction. I consulted with my mom so my bases were covered. When I received the call for a second interview I just knew that I had to go back and seek God, but this time I was not to leave out an important step – to listen. I listened but I didn’t get an answer, at least not right away. I said “God, if this is Your will, I need a sign. One that I will read. One that I need to know is from You!”

The time soon came when I agreed to shadow for a day on the bone marrow unit, to see if they liked me and if I liked them. I awoke that morning with the old visitor of queasiness. I remember thinking “Ok God, here we go. Please let me know if this is Your will”. As I turned right onto University Blvd, my phone dinged to let me know that I had a text message. It was a text from a friend that I had worked with a few years back. It was NOT a text of “How are you?” Or “How have you been?” It was a Bible verse only. The Bible verse that knocked my socks off!

Proverbs 3:5-8
5 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
7 Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.
8 It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.

WOW! Yep, God, I think I got it! I didn’t even know that bone marrow was mentioned in the Bible. Who knew?

So, as I sit here writing about a small part of my journey I find myself emotional– and it’s ok. It was just yesterday I found myself comparing scars with a patient’s wife. She was telling me how well my scar had healed and I was assessing hers, as she had recently undergone open-heart surgery requiring 6 bypasses. There was my cardiac patient sitting with her husband who had recently lost his hair to chemotherapy in his battle. We all talked about the journey and how good God is through it all. Another patient grabbed my hand as I was leaving her room and said “God sent you to me” and I said “and God has sent you to me too”. Good things are happening – LIFE is happening – HOPE is happening – GOD is happening.

God Is Bigger,