But God

I joined a couple of Breast Cancer support groups yesterday. 

It was very sobering for me. I shared the type of breast cancer I have and the size of the masses.  

Call me naive, but somehow I’ve been believing that this bilateral mastectomy that is moving in on me like the tide rises on the shores across the globe would somehow be the end of all of this disruption in my life. But the confluence of people who commented on my post with my exact diagnosis all shared their very long and difficult journeys that they are still fighting. 

And of course, they all have had chemo and radiation and herceptin. 

I guess joining the groups and reading the women’s stories was just a piece in the process of my facing and accepting this new journey that I’ve found myself on. 

Of course it was painful to read the comments, but I couldn’t help but feel that this ugly thing called cancer had just opened my world to thousands of new friends who welcomed me with an uninhibited genuine sincerity and intimacy that I was not expecting. Cancer has initiated me into an exclusive club that separates me from so many and of which I never wanted to be a part but has also drawn me into a family of people with whom I now share something critical and deeply personal. 

How can I not see that as a blessing? 

God has just broadened my world. He’s enlarged my life. 

I already feel richer for the presence of these dear woman and their support in my life. 

One of my favorite books is The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life, by Hannah Whitall Smith. Believe it or not, I read that book when I was a teenager, lying in bed and receiving chemotherapy and steroids for the Dermatomyositis I had. It’s been a long time since I read it, but the one thing that stands out in my mind and that I’ve always remembered as I’ve walked through life, is a picture of a young woman coming over and over again to the older woman, who I believe was the author, and telling her of all her very real and painful problems.


The older woman would listen with kind sincerety, and when the young woman had finished talking, the old woman would always say, “Ah, but God.”


“It is a law of the spiritual life that every act of trust makes the next act less difficult. Trusting becomes like breathing, the natural unconciousness of the redeemed soul.” 

― Hannah Whitall Smith, The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life

Then she would send the young woman off again to find her way through the struggles of life. 

I remember as a young teen how profound those words became to me. Without a doubt, my life was beyond hard. Nothing about my life was normal, and no circumstance brought anything but the purest pain and endurance in my life. Yet, somehow by God’s incredible grace, I came to know a joy and peace that doesn’t depend on the circumstances of our lives. 

Of course I wanted the pain to end. Of course I prayed for God to deliver me from the hell I lived through. I begged Him. But in the midst of all of the pain and agony I endured, Hannah Whitall Smith’s simple words, “But God,” changed everything for me. Just knowing He existed changed the course of my entire life. 

I did get well. I went on to have a wonderful life. But I don’t think I could have experienced the depth of love and joy I’ve known without having trudged through some of the darkest valleys a child can know.


“A happy heart can walk in triumphant indifference through a sea of external trouble; while internal anguish cannot find happiness in the most favorable surroundings.” 

― Hannah Whitall Smith, The Christian’s Secret Of A Happy Life

So, I greet this mixed bag of pain and blessing with the words of Hannah Whitall Smith, “but God.”

And just like it did all those years ago, just knowing He exists changes everything for me. 

“we can and must love the will of God in the trial, for His will is always sweet, whether it be in joy or in sorrow.” 

― Hannah Whitall Smith, The Christian’s Secret Of A Happy Life

Blessings All!

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  1. Jeanine says:

    You exhibit such courage and faith in suffering, the very thing that glorifies God. I just found your blog but I will be following your journey and praying for you and your family as you walk this road.

    • Diane says:

      Thank you so much for your kind words of encouragement and for taking the time to comment. I look forward to getting to know you. God bless you.



  2. Jill Thompson says:

    Hi Diane! I am praying for you. My best friend battled cancer and wrote a beautiful book, “Consider it Pure Joy” that I think would be an encouragement to you. She also started a non-profit, Inheritance of Hope. The book is available on the website http://www.inheritanceofhope.org. I will continue to storm the heavens on your behalf asking God to provide all you need for this journey. May God richly bless you and your family.

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