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 church 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.


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.


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!


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


  1. Hi Dayle,
    Most inspiring testimony of God's healing power, I have been so blessed by this. I really like the statement the last Doc. made. Thank you so much for sharing, like Denise says God Is Good!

  2. What a beautiful post testifying to our God being a miracle making, mountain moving (and tumor killing) God! Amen! and Amen again!

  3. Hi Dayle, Thank you for commenting on my post because it lead me to your blog and very inspirational post. I have a sister who was diagnosed with breast cancer several years ago but is cancer free today after several rounds of chemo, a double mastectomy and many prayers. Your story reminds us to always have faith in God, especially when faced with a deadly disease. Anita

  4. I am so glad to hear your testimony. Keep on telling it every chance you get because it builds our faith! A very close friend of mine was also healed of terminal brain cancer (never had treatments) five years ago and he is also doing great.
    Thank you, Lord!

  5. What a wonderful testimony. I love reading testimonies like this, I'm so glad you shared it today.
    God Bless,

  6. This is such an inspiring post! What an awesome, loving God we serve. I do know how you feel about knowing you had so little to do with it. God chose to bless you with this miracle, and Praise God that he did. So many blessings to you, Debbie

  7. What a beautiful testimony of God's healing. Thanks for sharing with us.

  8. Dayle,
    A wonderful testimony to the goodness of God! Thank you for stopping by my Spiritual Sunday post as that is how I found you. I love your writing and will be back to visit again!

  9. What an inspiring testimony. God's hand was surely evident in your healing. It gives me hope to hear stories like this! Janie

  10. Dayle, thanks for sharing your miracle. I rejoice with you. Maybe God healed you so you could minister to many through your writing. So glad I found you on FB. I enjoy all your blogs.

  11. I enjoyed reading about your journey with cancer and the healing you received. PTL! Prayer is the greatest gift you can give someone. We have experienced more than a few major answered prayers in our family. God is good.

    Have a beautiful new week...Kathy

  12. Dayle, what a beautiful story!

    You asked about the location of the photos on my blog - They are taking near Mount Washington Hotel in Bretton Woods, NH while on vacation. Here's the link, if your are interested, Have a good day. :)

  13. Hello, this is Yoli. I want to sincerely thank you for recently posting comment on my old blog, Apron of the Month Club. Your words of faith and encouragement are very special to me especially with our sudden relocation news and increased stress.

    The company I work for is relocating my job to a new city by January 1st. I also co-own an online boutique with my sister Jessica, and we have decided to professionally seek solo creative directions. So, I am opening up a new online boutique and new blog. I look forward to God opening new doors. My kids and are excited about new adventures.

    Please know that I read each and every comment you post. They are my inspiration and confirmation of God’s love. Please add me to your list of blogs that you follow.

    God Bless You!

  14. What a wonderful testimony of the power of prayer. It warmed my heart.

  15. An amazing story, though I am not be surprised by God's ability and care and love to you in this frightening situation.

    Your life and your blog is so full of encouragement ~ a joy to visit!

  16. Oh my, I have huge GOOSE BUMPS on my arms. I love this story, and I'm going to share it around.
    Blessed is the Name of the LORD.

  17. "God Bless you Dayle". I will certainly pray for you every day. I have been very touched by your story and am very thankful you have shared it with us...
    Big Loving Hugs to you,

  18. A powerful story, Dayle. To have such strong faith at such a young age is a wonderful testimony to you and your parents.

  19. You were touched because you still had work to do here. And wow, you have made God happy.
    I hope you share this every year!!

  20. Thanks so much for stopping by and for your very helpful input. Wow, I'm amazed with your truly remarkable story. The power of prayer never ceases to amaze me.

  21. What a wonderful testimony of God's healing power and grace!

  22. What a beautiful story. I was riveted. I'm not sure why God decides to heal some and not others. But your outcome is one of the miraculous ones and just in the telling, increases faith.

  23. Dayle, as I was scrolling down your page, I happened to notice your cancer story...I don't know how I have missed it in the months I've been following. As I read, chill bumps formed on my arms and tears in my eyes. What a remarkable testimony to the healing power of God! I'm so glad I scrolled down to see this!


  24. This is absolutely amazing. I don't know how I found your blog, but here I am. That's wild! Sid Roth would say, "That's Supernatural!" It is!

  25. Such a sweet story- of your miracle. May I tack onto that my own? I do believe God Heals. He heals in various ways. He does still give us miracles in our lives. My family has known that...I share one of those on my blog on a page titled "Pop's Story" fact I refer to our years In Texas as our "Miracle Years". When it comes to physical healing: I/we don't question how God chooses to heal whether miraculously making it go away, using doctors and medical science to make it all better/or healed completely forever, or the healing takes place upon leaving this earth at death. When my husband was first diagnosed w stage 4 cancer in 2012 we began praying as we knew to do having faith that once again God could perform another miracle in our some time passed we came to the conclusion that we should simply pray [not for healing] but for God's best-his perfect will and plan for our lives knowing His best would be better than anything we could ever imagine, dream of or ask for. We trusted Him. His best was that my incredible sweetheart of 54+ yrs died here at home with his family on this day [18th] 2 yrs 2 mos. ago and the entire leaving was such a beautiful, perfect gift and example of God's working, No questions, No debate, no regrets-no doubts. I would love to be able to share the whole story with you but I do share it in various forms on my blog beginning in 2012 when we got the diagnosis. I knew when I first discovered your blog that I would be encouraged and blessed at this place. Thank You!

  26. The power of prayer always amazes me. God is good.

  27. Each of your stories is even better than the last! ;-)

    I am so glad I read this.

  28. Very special story of faith, prayer and our great God!

  29. God is so good. Thank you for sharing this.

    Susan Freeman from Ash Tree Cottage blog is currently hospitalized with cancer. She updates on Facebook. If you think of her, please pray for her and her husband. Thank you.


Dear Readers, I adore your company and your comments. If you ask questions here, I respond to them here, so please check back when you have a chance. Kind regards, Dayle