Blessings in a Diagnosis

janice_limbaughThis post is publishing much later than I had planned. But as planning goes, you can always count on it changing. And often the change in plans is not what you necessary would have wanted. Case in point: me.


I found out in mid- July that I have breast cancer. It was an Oh-no-this-can’t-be-possible-moment: ‘Not fair! My husband died from cancer; my sons already went through this hell! I’m in a new relationship! I’ve got plans! I’m going on vacation! Noooooo!’


It’s true what you hear people say about the moment they learn they have cancer. Your mind freezes. Your body goes numb. The intensity of the words shock your entire being. And then you ask quietly to yourself, “Why me?”


After a moment of silence I answered, “Why not?”


At my age I’ve learned one thing for sure:  Life does not go according to plan and life is not always fair.


On how to deal with these ‘Givens of Life’ and others, I recommend reading David Richo’s “The Five Things We Cannot Change…and the Happiness We Find by Embracing Them.”

Round four out of six chemo treatments. Every treatment has different affects on my body. I'm told that's 'normal'.
Round four out of six chemo treatments. Every treatment has different affects on my body. I’m told that’s ‘normal’.


Since mid-July more than ever in my lifetime, I’ve discovered there is happiness and blessings to be found when the routine world takes a nose dive. You and I just have to be open to receiving these gifts. What may stop us, and has stopped me many times before, is fear and panic and the sense of losing control of daily living. It can be crippling, unproductive, and well, unhealthy!


Remember the saying Let go and let God? Taking on unwanted challenges is a lot like that: freefalling on faith. It may not be easy at first because we are so hard wired to react with panic and fear when our plans get tossed. We are, after all, control freaks and when stuff like this happens it’s a slap in the face.


When it does don’t forget to breathe. Next take as much time as necessary to process the new challenge. Then prepare a willing heart and mind. For me, focusing on accepting the grace of God was just the attitude adjustment I needed.


In October, I was returning a book I borrowed from the Lemen-Holton Resource Center when the receptionist asked me if I had breast cancer. I answered correctly because she said, “Wait right here I have something for you!”


The puzzled look on my face prompted her to continue, “It’s a gift from Amber and her sister. They did this for all women affected by breast cancer.”


“Who’s Amber?” I asked.


“A former patient of ours,” she replied as she poked around behind a partition looking for my special gift. I wondered ‘What could it be?  A hat most likely…’


As if the receptionist, Nina, was reading my mind, she suddenly appeared from around the partition with a huge plastic bag. Whatever was inside, was bigger than a hat!


“What is this?” I gasped.

A basket filled with loving-kindness and best wishes.
A basket filled with loving-kindness and best wishes.


“I told you – a special gift from Amber and her sister. Wait to get home to open it,” she advised. “There’s a lot in there and you’ll be amazed!”


I was stunned. When I urged Nina to give me Amber’s contact information so I could thank her, Nina paused and her face softened. “She died last month. This was a project she started to support other women going through breast cancer. Just consider yourself blessed!”


I got goosebumps but not because it was scary or creepy but because I felt like I was being given a huge heavenly hug from Amber herself.

Colorful laminated Bible verses for those moments when I need them most.
Colorful laminated Bible verses for those moments when I need them most.


Nina and I hugged and cried. She told me Amber’s organization is called Crowns of Blessings and they have a Facebook page. I would definitely friend them, message them, and find out what I could about this amazing woman.

The personalized envelope contained a handmade card.
The personalized envelope contained a handmade card.


For the rest of that day and the days following, my journey is changed. It’s not any easier but it is special in almost a sacred way. Amber touched my life when I needed it most. ‘I can do that for someone too,’ I thought.

Handmade with care and prayers!
Handmade with care and prayers!


Meanwhile at home, I opened my gift and just about everything in it was handmade. It contained a quilted throw, laminated prayer cards, a precious prayer rock (with a poem attached), a beautifully homemade card that begins,”Dear Friend…,”  (this made me cry), and several little person items that a woman going through breast cancer would appreciate.

Powerful words.
Powerful words.


Thank you Amber (and your sister!) for your kind and generous thoughts and actions. You chose to take positive action at a time when your life plans didn’t go your way. Perhaps that’s the result of  freefalling on faith. Whatever the reason, you are the inspiration for my cancer journey now!

Amber and her sister know what it means to Pay It Forward.
Amber and her sister know what it means to Pay It Forward.







 Share your story

I invite readers to share stories you may have of surprise blessings during scary times. Together we can help each other even as strangers to overcome the unwanted challenges we face in life. Email me at:


In the meantime, I will post helpful links to resources that I’ve discovered on my journey that may help you or someone you know. After all, we’re all in this together!


If you or anyone you know has been diagnosed with cancer of any type, may I recommend checking out Kris Carr’s book, “Crazy Sexy Cancer Tips” or  “Crazy Sexy Cancer Survivor”.  Her humor, wit and sass will tell you, you are a Survivor from Day One! Learn more about her story at:



2 thoughts on “Blessings in a Diagnosis

Comments are closed.