He Provides the Shoes

“If God sends us stony paths, He provides strong shoes.” — Corrie ten Boom

This notation inspired the title for my book.

Passages from He Provides the Shoes, Walking with God through Breast Cancer

This excerpt recounts the time immediately following my surgical biopsy procedure, before the diagnosis was confirmed (p. 20):

"I returned home with a small incision, about an inch long, under my left armpit area. It was not very sore, and I was told that the scar would be minimal. 'The pathology results will take about two or three days,' the doctor informed me.

"The monstrous storm with its gale-force winds was approaching, and I didn't even feel the nefarious breeze – the slightest warning – that was just beginning to blow across my face."

One of my earliest journal entries, which describes just how emotionally jolting the news made me feel when my husband (a physician) tearfully relayed to me that I indeed had breast cancer (p. 22):

"I stared into his eyes. My body froze while a kaleidoscope of terrifying images circled around wildly in my brain: cancer … chemotherapy … hair loss … throwing up … emaciated appearance … more baldness … dying … my kids crying around my coffin.

"I wept horribly while Brian held me in his arms. After a few minutes, he told me that I would probably need to have radiation and chemotherapy, but that we would need to talk to the oncologist about all the details. Oncologist? As a nurse, I had been the one taking care of patients whose primary diagnosis was cancer, and oncologists were their physicians, not mine. This cannot be happening to me! They must have made a mistake in the biopsy lab. Maybe they mixed up my results with someone else's report.

"I don't think I slept at all last night, and I'm crying too hard to continue writing.”

My faith in God is what sustained me, as evident by this powerful scripture verse, which I noted in my journal on the eve of the lumpectomy procedure (p. 30):

"The lumpectomy is scheduled for 8:15 AM tomorrow.

'The Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.'
(2 Thessalonians 3:3).

"Please, Lord … please strengthen me and protect me. I'm begging you.”

The excerpt below delineates the chemotherapy treatment protocol (for a total of 15 months) as outlined by my oncologist during our initial meeting:

“The oncologist informed me of the specific protocol she recommended, and she delineated the schedule of the chemotherapy treatments. Scribbling the information on a yellow sheet of notepad paper as she talked, she explained that beginning in about two weeks from that day I would receive four doses of Adriamycin and Cytoxan, with each succeeding treatment scheduled three weeks apart. After that series was completed, I would start a combination of Taxotere and Herceptin, which would be administered weekly for sixteen weeks. Finally, I would continue to receive Herceptin every three weeks for a total of one year.”

As expected, but nonetheless extremely emotionally upsetting, shortly after my first dose of chemotherapy, my shoulder-length thick curly hair began to fall out in small clumps. The entry below describes my feelings surrounding my own head-shaving ordeal, an act meticulously performed by my lovely beautician (p. 50):

"Then I heard her click it on and the telltale buzzing sound began. I had the crazy thought that it was like some great mutant insect descending on my head intent on destroying my hair like some biblical plague. I clenched my teeth to shore up my resolve, and then I forced myself to open my eyes and watch with a sort of fascinated horror as the shaving of my head commenced. When it was over I felt as if I'd been through a rite of passage: 'Your head has been shaved! You've now entered the Land of Cancer. Please exit to your left.'"

These entries remind me that God does indeed provide the "shoes" that we need at just the right time to traverse those stony roads of life (p. 178, 207):

"Melissa's cheerful recollection of that event gave me encouragement and helped me to see that God is always with us, and He gives us the support we need each day to make it through every trial. In a way, the levity she displayed while reflecting on an otherwise dismal event again reminded me that God will always provide the "shoes" we need to travel along life's difficult road. And sometimes, the shoes that He gives us come in the form of innocent, childlike laughter."

"In order to persevere, we have to get to the point where we are willing to completely relinquish our cares to our Heavenly Father, because only He can truly take care of us."

Chapter Eight, entitled, "Refined Faith," highlights a turning point in my cancer journey (p.129):

"It took me a long time – several long months – to realize that the more I resisted His molding, and the more I refused to surrender to His will for me, the more I remained stuck in the old Karen. In fact, even now, years after the flames of cancer have vanished, I still have difficulty surrendering. It is an ongoing process, but I've learned that the rewards of surrendering to my Heavenly Father are unimaginable."

Contact the Author:

Karen Holmes would love to hear from you! Whether you (or someone close to you) are a cancer survivor or are currently in the midst of conquering the disease, or simply if this book has touched your heart and encouraged you in any way, please feel free to CONTACT THE AUTHOR.

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