That C-word. No one expects it. No one welcomes it.

It’s just a small lump in the middle of my back. Not even sure it’s worth mentioning to my doctor.  Sure… we’ll watch it and see if it grows or becomes irregular in shape. It’ll be fine.

It wasn’t fine. The doctor excised it and off it went to the lab. Being too unusual to identify, it was sent off to the big city. Results: a rare eccrine MAC (mycrocystic adnexal carcinoma). Only about 300 people in history have gotten this. Really?!!

What would your thoughts be at this point? Mine jumped back to 10 years before.

I sat with my mother in the emergency room where I’d driven her because she was having difficulty swallowing. The doctor came back in the room and told her she had throat cancer and that it had spread to her lungs and lymph nodes. She looked at me with a quiet acceptance and said, “Well, I always wondered how I would die.” No anger at God. No terror. Just calm submission to whatever God had for her. “God knows best”, she whispered.

I’m sure my mother had hidden moments of tears and fears. Maybe even questioning God. But there was a deep-rooted conviction that God is only capable of acting out of love and wisdom.

I also had my hidden moments, especially with an active life, seven children and their spouses, twenty-one grand-children and close friends. I had the same fiercely-held belief that I could trust whatever God brought into my life and that He would bring good out of it. From my perspective, this news did not come at a convenient time in my life, but I trusted that God does know best.

My confidence was based on sixty-five years of prolonged hardships. Growing up with no dad, insufficient money (and no Centrelink) to feed and clothe a family of nine, forty years domestic violence which resulted in incarceration, moving to the other side of the globe three times, etc.—in which God had proven himself. This diagnosis did not catch him by surprise.

I had complete confidence that, in His omniscience, He knew what was best for me. That, in His love, He wanted what was best for me. And that, in His omnipotence, He was able to do what was best.

Granted, I was not looking forward to what I was going to go through medically, but my soul floated on a calm peace, knowing my Father would walk this journey with me. Not a hint of doubt in my mind that He would hold my right hand, as He had multiple times before, and whisper, “Fear not, my child.”

I soon met with the oncologist and the surgeon and multiple other medical staff with whom I would be involved—the kindest people in the world.

Next, I was in the operating theatre to remove the surrounding tissue. The hole was too big to stitch, so there was a flap from below pulled up and sewn over.

Six weeks of daily radiation therapy was followed by a month of healing from second degree burns on one-third of my back. Two weeks later, my limbs broke out with Nodular Pruigo causing itching that, I’m sure, has insanity as the end-goal. My immune system has turned traitor.

Like the Israelites complaining just three short days after God’s spectacular rescue at the Red Sea, I don’t want to forget all God’s done for me. They focused on their hunger instead of the Almighty God who could feed them. It’s easy for me to focus on the inconvenience and pain of my cancer journey, rather than the God who has taken me through it and mercifully given me more years of life.

No one said life would be fair or never include pain. No one said we would understand what God allows to happen. He’s God. I’m just human.

Accepting however my loving Father chooses to write my story has been the key.

I am loved. Life is short. Heaven is eternal. I am grateful for my Refuge.

And for recently being declared “cancer-free.”

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About Joy Harris

Joy studied elementary education before going on to teach at the primary school level as well as homeschooling for twenty-six years. Joy has touched the lives of thousands through her ministry in state Religious Education, Sunday Schools, and Holiday Bible Clubs as well as through her speaking at various seminars and retreats. Joy is also a gifted musician and has collaborated on multiple recording projects as well as maintaining a private teaching studio for over thirty years. Joy is retired and lives in Cairns, Australia. Joy has seven children, twenty-one grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. You can contact Joy at

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