Do you know where to turn for encouragement, comfort and support? In Her Shoes—Dancing in the Shadow of Cancer is a collection of vignettes, highlighting the stories of everyday women with everyday lives interrupted by cancer—their challenges, heartbreaks, questions, and triumphs. Cancer is hard, but you are not alone. As you cross the threshold, catching a glimpse into the lives of these women, you will find strength, inspiration, and hope.
I’m so glad to feature Joanie Shawhan and her new book, In Her Shoes. Here’s an excerpt and be sure to read through to the end to find out how you might win a copy in my giveaway!
The Other Side of the Bed
by Joanie Shawhan
I was no stranger to the ravages of chemotherapy. I had devoted six years to oncology nursing. We stimulated immune systems and heated, poisoned, targeted, and irradiated cancer cells. Our treatments blasted unsuspecting bodies while we managed the side effects: rigors, headaches, infections, fatigue, nausea, and pain. We slathered inflamed, irradiated skin with soothing cream. Before our patients nibbled on soft, bland food, we coated their ulcerated mouths with numbing gel. Sallow skin sagged over their brittle bones as our desperate patients picked at their macrobiotic diets.
Between controlling their pain and brushing wisps of hair away from feverish brows, we cradled their frail hands. My personal battle with ovarian cancer triggered memories of these past patients—the courageous warriors with whom we laughed and cried. We shared their families, their hopes, their dreams, and even their holidays. We grieved during their setbacks and rejoiced with their victories. Sometimes, I feared our treatment would kill them before eradicating the cancer.
In light of this, I vowed to never undergo chemotherapy. But now, I felt powerless to carry out this resolution.
I was one of them, dragged through the theme park of cancer, only I hadn’t purchased a ticket. Clapping my hands over my ears, I attempted to block the call of the barker as he beckoned me into a game of roulette—my life the prize. The tune “What If?” revolved around my mind like a crazed carousel. How I yearned to grasp the switch that would halt this fearsome ride. But if I wanted to live, I needed to go forward with the treatment.
Cancer flung me to the other side of the bed. Nursing scrubs and shoes gave way to tieback gowns and skid-free gripper socks. Instead of my fingers threading needles into sunken veins, other nurses laced the sharp tips into my veins. Malaise, pain, and nausea stormed my body. The side effects I now managed were my own.
Despite the onslaught of cancer and chemotherapy, I felt reassured that I had made the right decision. I pressed forward. But I often questioned God. In times of prayer, and with his Word and his peace, he ushered me through the fears of all that could go wrong, the chemotherapy that pummeled me, and the voices that spewed negativity. Several months later, I once again donned my nursing scrubs and resumed my career on the other side of the bed.
God had guided me safely through the maze of cancer and chemotherapy.
For this God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end. (Psalm 48:14 NIV)
Lord, thank you for taking my hand and leading me through this difficult season. Through your faithfulness, you have brought me out on the other side.
Thank you, Joanie, for sharing with us. I’m confident your book will inspire, educate and enlighten us all.
For the book giveaway, Joanie will send a print copy (only for US addresses) or Kindle copy to the winner. Winner will be drawn on midnight, Tuesday, June 18th, 2019. Enter the drawing by making a comment on this post on my blog.
Joanie Shawhan is an ovarian cancer survivor and a registered nurse. She writes articles and encouragement for women undergoing chemotherapy. Publishing credits include The Upper Room, Coping with Cancer Magazine, God Still Meets Needs, and In Her Shoes: Dancing in the Shadow of Cancer. She is involved in an ovarian cancer social group, The Fried Eggs—Sunny-Side Up, and speaks to medical students about ovarian cancer in the Survivors Teaching Students program. When not attending one of her two book clubs or her writing critique group, Joanie enjoys designing jewelry, swimming and knitting.
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