“I have cancer.”

Jocelyn’s voice sounded a million miles away.

Unreal.

Words I never expected to hear from my wife.

Cancer

I’ve heard the words whispered by too many people I love. They’ve been uttered with tears and a tone that sounds sacred and scared.

Ironically, I was just about to officiate a funeral. Monday March 12th. One of North Pointe’s support staff summoned me from the platform with an ominous request, “Jocelyn needs you. Now.”

Seeing her expression I knew our world had changed forever. “My doctor called. He says I have endometrial cancer.”

Cancer.

The following days were a blur of doctor’s appointments, oncologist consults, scheduling surgery, pre-op briefings, calling family, and sharing with friends who are cancer survivors. The words “so sorry” were heard from so many. We prayed back fear.

Wicked Strong

One solace Jocelyn held on to was an impression she had in January 2018. We were on a cruise. Out of the blue she heard the words, “You’re going to be OK.” Her first thought was “The ship’s going to sink or Bob’s going to die.” On March 12th she realized those words were meant for her. She was strong before she needed the strength.

A dear friend and cancer survivor brought home a bracelet from a trip to Boston. The inscription on the bracelet was “Wicked Strong.” The phrase became Jocelyn’s go to words. Kinda unexpected wording for a pastor’s wife – but that’s Jocelyn.

The initial surgery date of April 17th was delayed until April 26th because Jocelyn was in ill health. Each day of delay felt like a week.

Surgery

On the morning of surgery the alarm clock sounded at 4:20am. Not that we ever were asleep. Going out our front door at 5:12am, a bird was singing. En route we saw a rabbit – Jocelyn’s favorite animal after golden retrievers.

After checking in at the Lois Hole Hospital For Women, we found seats in a waiting area. A dedication plaque on the wall acknowledged “The Wiebe Family” – friends of ours.

Connie was Jocelyn’s prep nurse. She was genial, calming, light-hearted and humorous – suggesting I go to Kingsway Mall while waiting, to purchase gifts for my wife. She complimented Jocelyn on the purple coloring in her hair. Seems like everybody loved the purple, including a Dr. Mills who expressed surprise at seeing the choice of color. Makes a woman feel good.

Godwinks

On the day of the surgery a nurse from North Pointe “happened” to be scheduled to work in the surgery-prep ward. Ruth’s familiarity was a godsend. Leading up to surgery Jocelyn encountered four people from North Pointe at four different medical appointments. Godwinks galore.

Jocelyn’s brother – a paramedic – showed up on the ward in his work clothes. We prayed together.

“Time to go.” The moment came all too quickly. We kissed. Jocelyn was wheeled out of her room and onto the elevator. As the doors closed, Jocelyn gave me two thumbs up, smiled and declared, “wicked strong!”

Tears still come six days later. My wife of thirty-nine years was in the good hands of God and those of her surgeon.

Observations About Cancer On A Road Well Traveled

1. A cancer diagnosis compels you to think about what and who is important.

Brenda, a nurse friend, arrived back in Canada from Phoenix and drove straight to the hospital to be with Jocelyn when she came out of surgery. She stayed in our home for three days to help. Our neighbors, and friends came in to visit, talk, drink coffee, share meals, walk together, iron shirts, wash dishes and more.

2. Its OK for people of faith to feel scared with a cancer diagnosis.

3. Cancer is cancer. There is no minor cancer when it’s your cancer.

4. Never say to a cancer patient, “That’s good. Its not terminal like…”

5. Conversations about cancer are hard. Talking about a diagnosis makes it “real.” Emotions run high in patients and family members. Cancer is all they think about but don’t want to talk about.

6. Cancer patients struggle against going to the dark places and answering the “What if” questions with the worst.

7. People with cancer have to battle hard to prevent fear from tipping the scales against faith.

8. Don’t rush recovery. Three steps forward. Rest. One more step. Rest. Rinse. Repeat.

9. Every physician, surgeon, and nurse who served us did so with stellar professionalism, compassion and empathy.

10. The prayers, phone calls, texts, emails, messages, meals, cards, bouquets, baking and home visits from friends and family carried us.

11. Cancer survivors…and families…rule.

APPLICATION: Are you or a loved one facing cancer? What is your journey? Please leave a comment below. Thank you.


Hope grows here. I write to share stories that inspire people, build faith in Jesus, and offer lasting purpose. If this material is helpful to you, please follow me.

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Bob Jones

Author Bob Jones

Pastor at North Pointe Community Church for 28 years. Happily married to Jocelyn for 39 years. We have two adult sons, Cory and his wife Lynsey and their son Vinnie and daughter Jayda; Jean Marc and his wife Angie and their three daughters, Quinn, Lena and Annora. I love being a pastor and inspiring faith in Jesus through communicating, blogging, counseling and coaching. I enjoy running, reading, writing and ball hockey. Fan of the Esks and Pats. Follow me on Twitter @bobjones49ers

More posts by Bob Jones

Join the discussion 20 Comments

  • Cheryl says:

    We are praying daily for God’s hand in all of this. Thinking of you both often. May God’s miracles be abundant.

  • adena lowry says:

    Jocelyn & Pastor Bob – Thank you for sharing your story with us. Your faith & courage are such a blessing in difficult times. You brought tears as I read about God’s hand in your journey.
    Unfortunately, we’ve experienced cancer with family. We are forever grateful to God for His presence that made a way for us. May your trust in Him continue to sustain you and carry you through.

  • Beverley Cameron says:

    Thank-you for sharing. You and your family will be in my prayers throughout Jocelyn’s recovery.

  • Diane Shaw says:

    Thank you for sharing your difficult journey with us Jocelyn and Pastor Bob. Your strength, courage and vulnerability is inspiring. You are so loved by so many. Continue to be wicked strong. You are in our daily thoughts and prayers.

  • Seema thuruthel says:

    Thanks for sharing your story.i was shocked to hear .But our Loving Great GOD will bring you u safe out of this .its just matter of time that we need to be strong and courageous .You both are loved my thousands of good people from church for all the good work you do .God will bless Jocelyn and bring her back to great action at church .We will prayer for her and you pastor Bob.

  • Steven Krahn says:

    Thank you for sharing your journey with us. You are loved beyond measure and covered in a blanket of prayer.

  • Glen says:

    Thanks for sharing your life with us. My wife and yours have just recently begun to build a friendship. I’m excited for what God will do as you and Jocelyn walk this journey of victory together. May God continue to heal and restore Jocelyn absolutely. Our prayers will be with you and your family. Blessings to you both.

  • Bob Jones says:

    Thank you Cheryl!

  • Bob Jones says:

    Thank you, Adena! Much love to you.

  • Bob Jones says:

    Thank you Diane and John, for ALL your support. #15

  • Lana Berry says:

    Mark and I love you both so much… as you said Pastor Bob, we are family. Our hearts broke over the news, but we stand in faith and in prayer with you both. Jocelyn is an amazingly strong woman and we pray for complete healing and comfort for you and your family too. Sending many hugs

  • Bob Jones says:

    Thank you very much, Bev!

  • Suzanne Stoddart says:

    Bob, you and Jocelyn are more important to us than you can possibly know. You are our Pastor and friends. And you’re both in our constant prayers and thoughts. All you said about the cancer journey is so true. I’ve lost many family members to cancer, and have many family and friend survivors as well, including my mom. It’s a scary word to be sure. Let the tears flow, and surround yourselves with loved ones…especially your precious grandchildren. It’s hard not to smile when they’re around eh? We love you, Suzanne

  • Bob Jones says:

    Thank you, Seema for your care, prayers and for commenting. #Encouraged

  • Bob Jones says:

    Thank you Steven for reaching out and caring!

  • Bob Jones says:

    Thank you very much, Glen. Good to walk this journey together.

  • Bob Jones says:

    The love is mutual. So glad to be a part of your lives and all God is doing in you. Thank you for caring and for your prayers.

  • Bob Jones says:

    So very encouraging Suzanne. Thank you. I remember when you and Jim and the kids first came to Central Tab. You supported and stuck with the process of relocation. You are good people. Thank you for praying. #WickedStrong #ThisIsUs

  • Cynthia says:

    Thank you Pastor Bob for including us in this journey. I have traveled with my sister, son and a cousin in this journey. When a chief of surgeries calls you on aSunday morning at 7am you know something important they want to convey to you and specially if the patient is only 19years old. We are behind you both and your family.Nothing about this journey makes it simple or easy, except we have our heavenly father who would walk with you and talk with you along life’s narrow way. That’s so comforting.You are in our prayers. My daughter and myself been in NP only since 2013. and little grand child joined us in 2014.We have come to love you, respect you and admire you for the way you make time to connect and answer those emails even 10 and 11 o”clock at night.
    God bless you all.

  • Bob Jones says:

    You are so very kind, Cynthia. Thank you for your prayers and love and sharing your own family’s journey with cancer.

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