The doctor’s voice was gentle on that evening of July 4th, 2008. “It looks like cancer, Michèle. Invasive ductal carcinoma.” I hung up the phone when he’d finished his instructions and braced myself on the bedroom dresser. The world seemed to buckle, tilt and right itself.
But it never quite came back to plumb. Cancer does that. It alters the ground we thought was level. The surface doesn’t so much crack as shift…then turn to sinking sand.
I locked my mind on stubborn hope while my heart succumbed to cancer’s steady pull. I knew the war of fear and faith would forge a new reality. And wondered if this Independence Day would be the last I’d see.
Seven years have past since my battle’s bleak beginning. As I remember the turmoil of those early days, I contemplate the Words that carried me and the Resolutions that redeemed the dread and pain. The song posted below expresses the Words—a reminder to myself of God’s kept promises. It’s imperfect and unpolished, but it’s exactly me.
Be still my soul.





The Resolutions that carried me still echo these seven years on. They sway and saturate survival. My life is richer for contemplating death. My goals reach deeper. My faith rings truer.
I’ve purposefully Lived since July 2008. Loved too. Learned. Leaned. Laughed. Launched. Longed. And the ticking clock where youth’s delusions used to be metronomes my fragile days of cancer-free.
My illness motivates and galvanizes me. It’s the one outcome I can chose, the only one that’s truly up to me. What carcinoma took, I’m wrestling back. The sands still shift with every test and scare, but intentional uncertainty will always trump a mindless certainty.
This cancer makes me want where waiting used to be enough.
I want to quell illusions first—dispel the myth that I am strong and brave. I’m not immune to fear, the low-hum angst that surges every time a friend falls ill again. I know the hope that lurches two steps back with each grim hell-story I hear. The peace that trembles—mute—when calendars count down toward more tests in sterile, cheerful places full of healing and of death.
Despite the joy and peace that shimmer in my consciousness, I know that I am mortal. And in that weakness. In my weakness. He is strong.
I want to explore the questions I ignored before test results nearly caused my undoing.

What do I adore with the time I invest?

Who do I enslave with the habits I hide?

Do I give enough thanks for the blessings I’m forgetting?

Have I hobbled the frail to make myself feel grander
or humbled my pride to grow gentler and nobler?

How much would I give to share God with a stranger and
how much would I hoard if my God sought my treasure?

I want to exhort from the healing I’m living—the lessons now carved in the stone of surviving.

Those woundedas I am—you know God is for you.
Give mercy and time to the scars that impede you.
Be sure of the One who fights in you and with you.
Seek Light—strive for Right. Your Comforter is near you.

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I want to undo all my hate-words and lies.

Restore, rediscover, connect and unite.

I want to retrieve hours and days I have wasted.
I want to love better.
I want to bore deeper.
I want to live fully immersed in my Savior.
I want
I want

And you—
do you want too?

If you know the “I wants” and have both health and time, why not begin now with “the wisdom of dying”? With conviction and purpose. With focus and grace. With joyful commitment to leaving a trace.

July 4th is my milestone—one more year surviving.

Come what may
when it may

I’ll be going down living.


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    • Lori Wibberly

    • 9 years ago

    This was a gift to me today. I was driving home from volunteering at a nursing home, feeling sad. This song, “Be Still My Soul” sprang to mind and here it is! Sorry, for not actually answering your thought provoking question, Michele, but thank you for the song.

    • Kacia Ingraham

    • 9 years ago

    Thank you for the reminder to keep living to the fullest. Happy Anniversary.

  1. Michele, my MAC sister, my spiritual mentor, my dear friend.
    Tuesday night I concluded a 5 week session on D.A.N.C.E. sharing all you have taught me about living a life of abunDANCE. The “E” dance step of Extend & Encourage…..remembering to extend (share) all you learn in your struggles on your life’s journey as an encouragement to others.
    My closing was from an October 8, 2009 email from you—“Tell them that you stumbled. Tell them that you wanted to give up. Tell them that you were bruised by doubt and battered by despair…but that you made it. You. Made. It. And the view from the summit of survival? It’s priceless.”
    I am who I am today because of your faithfulness to share the steps of your MAC (cancer) journey with me. I love you dearly. Dotsy

    • Pauline Phibbs

    • 9 years ago

    what a beautiful gift I received today. I have survived kidney cancer and breast cancer and learned that cancer does bear gifts. As you so beautifully said, it brings with it the knowledge that we are not always in control of our situations but we learn so dramatically who is. Trust became my crutch when I felt too weak to walk on my own. Sunsets became more beautiful and my family the bright lights that kept me focussed. Thank you for sharing!

  2. Dear Beloved friend and sister, the radiating reaching beauty of your song and message penetrated the casual silence of this day. With emotion welling up in my throat I whisper a groaning thanks for your life. How many times do I share your words, your love, your advocate passion for those trapped within nets of culture, time zones, and unexpressed pressures. You inspire in such visceral ways through words, music, laughter, play and tears. If you were here I would take you on a walk by the seaside thankful that these shores did not confine our ancestors seeking a new life and land. You also ventured forth a pilgrim from the familiar, but growing restless place that used to be such a home to return to the land of liberty – to help others have a voice. We are now separated by these shores, but my heart and love and thanks for you knows no bounds. I still have dreams to share with you – keep living on my friend embracing the pain and uncertainty expectant of unforeseen joys and jubilation. Loves keeps us strong and able to “walk on water”. Love knows no bounds.

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