Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Until Next Time ...

Dearest friends, a path is a story we walk, where nothing is known but where a way is made through. I first found the courage to call myself a writer in the mid-1980’s and I had no way of knowing where that path would lead. But, for three decades now I’ve been listening to my voice and finding a way to put it out there for others to read and assess and judge, if they so desire. I’ve written books and articles and essays and editorials and guest columns, all because there was a voice inside that propelled and compelled me to do so. I like to think that writing has kept me sharp and sensitive and aware.

I’ve done my best to write honestly, but tastefully—not always sharing the sordid and deeply personal details, but still conveying the spirit of the moment, whether it be joy or sorrow, satisfaction or embarrassment, disgust or anger.

And it was in 2005 when one of my beautiful nieces introduced me to the blogging world. I was a big skeptic at first but soon fell in love with the kindred spirits I encountered online. Blogging became a quiet place in which to reflect and mull over this thing called life and its many components. With over 750 blog posts under my belt, it’s safe to say that I’ve spilled my soul, and sometimes my guts, right here in this space. Having you along for company has brought me immense pleasure.

I still have plenty left to say, but as a wise man once said, "To everything there is a season," which brings me to the point of this rambling post. I am stepping away from blogging. Maybe forever, maybe not, but I wanted you, my faithful friends, to be informed, should you stop by here in a month or two or five and wonder what happened. With the exception of my cancer story, published back in 2009, I have also decided to deactivate all of my 750 previous posts, at least for now, just because.

There are no words to thank you for all of your generous comments, your prayers, and your friendship over the last eight years. Your presence has meant more than I can express, and, if you are so inclined, please come find me on Facebook. I'd love to see you there.

Until next time, dear friends, keep walking your path and keep speaking your truth.


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Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Unseen Hand ~ My Cancer Story


Not all cancer stories have happy endings, but some of them do. These happy endings can sometimes be attributed to advances in medicine; other times they are made possible because of faith in God, and a divine healing touch.

This is my cancer story and it all began on a crisp September morning in 1973, when my father drove me to the dentist’s office for a routine filling. As the dentist prepared to administer a shot of Novocain, he stopped short.

“There's a knot right here,” he said, pressing an area inside my left jaw. “Have you noticed this before?"

I felt inside my jaw and found the small knot. I shook my head no. I’d never noticed this before.

The dentist seemed concerned and asked if I had a parent with me. I told him my father was in the waiting room.

After a brief conversation, most of which I don’t remember, the dentist sent me and my father down the hall, where an oral surgeon examined the area in question and said he needed to lance it for a biopsy. “I will call you with the results," he told us.

A few days later, the disturbing news came. It appeared that the knot inside my jaw was a cancerous tumor. We were referred to the Head and Neck Clinic at M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston for a complete evaluation.

At M. D. Anderson, we met Doctor Oscar Guillamondegui (fondly called Dr. Guilly by the staff), who ordered more testing before a final diagnosis could be made.

Over the next few weeks, my life became consumed by tests and people poking me. But at last, we sat in a small room, waiting for the report.

Dr. Guilly got right to the point. "The knot in Dayle's mouth,” he said, “is a mucoepidermoid carcinoma buccal mucosa—that is a malignant tumor of the minor salivary glands." He said it was rare in someone so young. He recommended immediate surgery, followed by 25 rounds of radiation, but said he wouldn’t know my prognosis until he observed how deep the roots were.

A heavy silence filled the little room, broken only by an occasional sniffle from my mother.

We asked for a moment alone before making any decisions. All year, we had planned a trip to the mountains in order to attend a Christian convention. The convention was the following week, and I begged my parents to let me go. Maybe God had a special healing for me there.

After seriously considering our options, I will always be grateful that my parents agreed that we would go to the convention, as planned. Dr. Guilly wasn’t thrilled with waiting, but he understood the reason behind it. He asked that we schedule surgery immediately upon my return.

On the last night of the convention, my father—a minister—had arranged for me to be prayed over, according to the Scripture found in James 5:14-15: “Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord, and the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.”

Standing with my dad at the front of the large arena, a group of ministers touched my head with oil, asking God to heal me. It was just a simple prayer, really, but my young heart was bursting with faith. I fully expected something spectacular to happen—indicating I’d been healed—but nothing out of the ordinary occurred, at least not just then.

After the service ended, my sister and I were walking with friends to a nearby café, when I had the strangest sensation inside my jaw. It felt as if the tumor was being squeezed—like a pimple. The sensation lasted a second or two, followed by a feeling of excess moisture in my jaw—again, much like squeezing a pimple. That may sound crude, but it’s the only way I know to describe it.

With a heart filled with hope, I reached inside my jaw, fully expecting to find the tumor gone. But it wasn’t. I said nothing to no one, but kept faith in my heart. I knew something supernatural had just occurred.

The next day, we drove back to Texas to prepare for my surgery. Since The Knot was still evident, I decided to say nothing about my experience to anyone. In retrospect, I wish I had spoken up and shared what had happened with my family, but I didn't. I was afraid maybe they wouldn't believe me. I did, however, ponder it in my heart the whole way home.

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On Halloween night, 1973, I was escorted to a hospital room trimmed with black cats and orange pumpkins. Undaunted, I slipped on a hospital gown and crawled into bed.

Early next morning, a nurse came in with a gurney. I climbed aboard and we rumbled down a wide hallway, my family walking beside me in a solemn line. When we reached the place where we had to part ways, we joined hands while my dad led us in prayer, asking that all would be well.

Inside the operating room, a woman took my hand. "I'm the anesthesiologist,” she said. “I'm going to give you a little stick now.” Slowly, she pushed in the syringe. "What is your doctor's name, Dayle?” Even though she stood at my head, she sounded far away. I tried to answer, but couldn't. Then the room went silent, and I knew nothing.

Hours later, I lay in my room listening to Dr. Guilly describe the surgery to my family. He explained that when he reached the tumor, the roots appeared to have been—in his words—"shriveled up.” He said it as if it were the oddest thing he'd ever seen. He said because he was certain of complete resection, no radiation would be needed, just frequent visits for check-ups.

Even though my jaw stuck out like a grapefruit, I smiled a victorious smile, goose-bumps covering my entire body. Suddenly, the feeling I'd had outside the café made perfect sense, for that's precisely what it felt like—a hand squeezing my jaw. I had no doubt whatsoever that I had received a miracle of healing.

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Last year, I visited an Ear Nose and Throat specialist about a chronic sinus infection. While there, the subject of my long-ago cancer came up (just a routine question on a form) and when the doctor asked what my diagnosis had been, he turned around sharply and said, “Well, it must’ve been a low grade tumor because had it been a high grade one, you’d most likely not be here now. The survival rate for patients with minor salivary gland tumors isn’t very good.”

I was thrilled to tell him, “I'm not sure what grade tumor it was, but prayers went up all around the country for me.” I said, “I’m sure that the surgeon did a great job, but it’s because of God that I’m here today.” The doctor smiled and said, “Well I’d never be too proud to share that kind of credit, that’s for sure.”

In summary, I am a testimony of the healing powers of The Great Physician. I don't know why God chooses to heal, or why He doesn't. My father-in-law passed away from cancer at the young age of 59, even with us praying for a miracle. I can’t explain why I received my healing; it's certainly not because of any goodness in me, or because of anything I have done. Some things just can't be explained; some questions have no earthly answers. But I do know that I'm forever grateful for God's mercy and favor. If I’m diagnosed with a dreaded disease tomorrow, I will not complain, for since 1973 I have been living as a walking miracle! Who could ask for more than that?


Merciful Father, life's trials have given my faith roots—unshakable and unmovable. Without hardships in our lives, we'd never know the thrill of receiving a true miracle. Thank you for granting me another year of living!

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A version of this story appears in Silver Linings (Pacific Press), by Dayle Allen Shockley. All rights reserved.