< Previous Post: | Next Post: >

Living Joyfully When Your Husband Has Cancer

Allow me to introduce you to my friend, Trudy. We were just acquaintances when she and her husband, John, attended our wedding. As friends go, she has become one of the “best of the best.” When the kids were little, she would babysit for them, accompany me on errands or just come over to hang out for fun and encouragement. Though we no longer live in the same state, her emails, cards, and calls always brighten my day.

This year (2017), marks 12 years since she discovered her husband has cancer. It’s been a rough road with plenty of ups, downs and uncertainties. As her friend, I’ve witnessed the struggle the journey has been. Through it all – the good, the bad, and the ugly – a few things have risen to the surface. These are joy and security.

 

I’m so pleased and thankful that she agreed to be the first guest in the new series:

 

Ordinary Women - Extraordinary Joy: Interview Series

 

I’ve asked her to share her heart on maintaining joy during the unexpected challenge of living with and loving a husband with brain cancer.

 

First of all, my name is Trudy Feyereisen. I’ve had the privilege of being Abi’s friend for about 16 years now, and it’s an absolute joy for me to be a part of the ministry the Lord has given her here. To give you a bit of a background … 

My husband John and I were married in 1999 and met Abi and her husband through biblical counseling classes. John was in the midst of writing his thesis to complete his master’s degree when he was first diagnosed with brain cancer back in 2005 (oligoastrocytoma, grade 2) – just 6 years into our marriage. 

John’s 1st surgery was in June of 2005. Since then, he has had 4 more – one in February 2013 and 3 more within the last year – June, October, and February. He is now classified with an oligodendroglioma, grade 3. We have not pursued conventional treatments like chemo or radiation, but instead have been fighting the cancer with nutrition and alternative treatments.

Maintaining Joy When Your Husband Has Cancer

 

Living With Joy When Your Husband Has Cancer

 

You’ve been walking this road for awhile … would you start by telling us what the hardest part of first finding out about John’s cancer was?

It’s been so long ago now, it’s hard to remember. I guess just the mere shock of it all. How it became such a defining moment regarding what this life, that was totally unexpected, would now be like. How that would affect and change our direction in life and all our future decisions.

 

What have been your greatest struggles and doubts with the ongoing process of living with cancer?

Why “us”?! We’ve set our sights on pursuing full-time ministry and are working so hard at growing in You, LORD, and living for YOU. This “seems” to distract us from that goal. Because of that, I’ve doubting God’s LOVE.

The most recent struggle has been, “why now?!” when You, heard and answered our deep desire to move back to the Midwest (10 years of prayers). Only to have the cancer reappear here, in Michigan. Initially, this was a great disillusionment.

 

What habits have you developed to help you maintain joy through the ups and downs, the struggles and sorrows, the long days and uncertainty?

  • Making sure to have time ALONE with the LORD to regroup my thoughts, listen to His “voice” found in His Word, and talk to Him in prayer
  • Meditating on Jesus’ suffering in His earthly life – “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” – thinking about all He went through on my behalf to save me
  • Reminding myself of God’s attributes and how He first described Himself in words in Exodus 34: 6-7 – compassionate, gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth
  • Finding great JOY in my privilege of depending on the LORD as His daughter and having full access to the throne of grace because of Jesus. It’s a beautiful thing to KNOW you need the LORD and to find Him FAITHFUL!
  • Making sure to get regular exercise as it is very beneficial to overall well- being and mood as you can handle stress better when in shape
  • Reminding myself … “One day at a time” (cf. Matt. 6:25-34)

 

Is there anything specific you do to turn your thoughts and attitude around when you realize you’ve lost your joy?

  • Make Scripture index cards with verses that are particularly helpful to my heart and situation. I can grab them  to arrest my sinful thinking in a weak moment or just be encouraged in God’s Word when I’m hurting. Topics like “Thoughts to Combat Doubting God’s Goodness,” “Truths to Set my Heart Upon When I’m Afraid,” “Scriptures for Serving Others with JOY.”  Here’s one based on Psalm 34 that you can print.
  • Listen to good, Christian music with uplifting lyrics
  • Get out in nature and take a walk or do something light-hearted
  • Watch something comedic
  • Call and talk to a friend and ask for prayer

 

Learning your husband has cancer is an unexpected jolt. Many emotions will come and go; JOY can still rise to the top. Encouragement from a wife who's been there.

 

What Scripture passages, doctrinal principles, or music do you regularly turn to as “lifelines”?

  • “You, Oh LORD, will not withhold Your compassion from me; Your lovingkindness and Your truth will continually preserve me.” Psalm 40:11
  • “The LORD is for me among those who help me.” Psalm 118:7
  • The Psalms in particular have been a GREAT comfort and encouragement to me. Specifically Psalm 34 and Psalm 116
  • Lamentations 3: 25-26, 32-33; Hebrews 4: 14-16; Hebrews 12: 1-4; 2 Corinthians 4: 16-18 and the entire book of 1st Peter – my favorite!
  • Christian artist Jason Gray has blessed us far and above any other Christian artist. His last 3 albums are all full of deep insightful lyrics that are transparent and real about the struggles of the Christian life yet joyful and filled with hope. We cannot say enough about how his music has ministered to us. Some particular song titles we love are “Nothing is Wasted,” “Love Will Have the Final Word,” “Sparrows,” and “Glow in the Dark”
  • Lauren Daigle’s song, “Trust in You” and Chris Tomlin’s song “Angel Armies”
  • Old hymn, No One Understands Like Jesus (click link for a printable copy)

 

What have been the best ways that others have encouraged or served you during these years?

  • Truly listening and entering into our situation with genuine interest
  • Asking questions, wanting to KNOW us and taking the time to do so
  • Meeting our financial needs – finding it a JOY to be Jesus’ hands and feet
  • Praying for us and letting us KNOW of these prayers
  • Praying WITH US OUT LOUD. Hearing others pray on our behalf and bring God’s mind to the situation with compassion is a blessing beyond words
  • Cards and emails that contain Scripture or thoughts of God that are elevating. These make it evident that one has truly spent time considering how to minister and be a blessing
  • Phone calls to check in and let us know they’re prayerfully thinking of us

 

Is there anything else you’d like to share? 

It’s truly been an honor, a privilege, and a blessing to think through these questions. It’s greatly edified my soul as I prayerfully hope it will be used by the LORD to edify yours.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned through all these years, it’s a simple truth from the classic children’s song, Jesus Loves Me . . .  I am WEAK, but He is STRONG!! 

There really is something sweet and special that comes when God graciously weaves suffering into our experience. The promises of God become all the more precious and real and attractive to hold onto. As the LORD helps me take advantage of my suffering position by submitting to my need for grace, there is a joy and a trust that blossoms there that cannot be equaled. It truly is a gift from God to see my need and total dependence upon Him. It’s a beautiful thing to KNOW I need God and to find Him faithful!

 

As the Lord helps me take advantage of my suffering position by submitting to my need for grace, there is a joy and a trust that blossoms which cannot be equaled. Trudy Feyereisen

 

I’ve also learned there is no shortcut to this “lesson in life.” It’s an ongoing process that we’re all going to be on until we go to heaven, and it’s a battle. A battle for our mind and our heart’s affections. I have so grappled with having a right view of God amidst my trials . . . but as the LORD has helped me have a right view of Him. That is what has also helped me rest in Him. We cannot rest in God if we don’t know Him and trust who He says He is. This only happens as we intentionally study His Word and ask the LORD to reveal Himself to us. To help us believe that what He says is true.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how faith is simply believing what God says and acting upon it. BUT . . . I’m also deeply aware that I need His help and enabling grace to do so. This newfound JOY through dependence upon His grace has been one of the greatest lessons I’ve learned on this journey, along with the JOY of knowing His undying love and experiencing His profound faithfulness.

 

 

Note from Abi: I just discovered a new blog for caregivers called Blessed But Stressed. If you’re taking care of a husband with cancer or any other loved one with a pervasive disease, take a look. I think you’ll be encouraged.

 

Shared at: Grace & Truth,

Comments

  1. I love this. What a fantastic series! I can’t imagine going through something so tough, but Trudy has such a wonderful perspective and great advice for leaning on God. She’s blessed me today. Thanks so much for sharing!

    • Thanks for reading and letting us know you were encouraged, Laura. Definitely a great reminder for us all to lean on God no matter what our trial is.

      • Music to my ears! So thankful to the LORD that you were encouraged, Laura! There’s nothing greater than getting to see how the LORD, in HIS kindness, using something for good. And it was a true honor to join Abi in ministering for the kingdom!

  2. I love this article. And certainly am looking forward to the next one. Bless you Abi. Thank you Trudy. May God pour out His love and mercy to you both and your families.

    • Thanks for reading, Sherry. The next article in the series should be available in early July. Enjoy your week.

      • Thank you for your sweet words, Sherry! Oh how I am so deeply aware of my need for DAILY mercy on so many levels! =) Just recently (a week ago today) I was in a head-on collision and totaled our one and only car! By God’s GREAT MERCY I was not injured too badly. Another opportunity to put into practice the things the LORD used Abi to help me recall to memory. Bless my friend …

  3. Thank you Abi for doing this series. Thank you Trudy for allowing us to peek into your life and show us how we can trust God is greatly moving despite the circumstances around us! I will be praying for your family. Thanks again.

    • So glad you like the series, Lee. I appreciate you reading and sharing.

      • Oh Lee … your words greatly minister to my heart as I’m so grateful to the LORD to be used by Him, as through all this battle with cancer and writing updates, He’s grown in me a real love for writing. Abi asking me afforded another opportunity to find JOY in doing what He’s given me the joy and desire to do … encourage others through writing. =) Praise His Name! It helps ease the pain/disappointments of this earthly life as it forces me to think through and rise above them as the sweet enabling of the Holy Spirit inspires the writing. =) Thank you for your prayers!

  4. Brittany says:

    What a wonderful idea for a series of articles! I love it.

    • Little did you know . . . you’re next on my list of people to interview. And I’m not kidding. 🙂

      • I am so sorry that it looks like you and I have the cancer journey in common and I already feel for you in what you have, no doubt, suffered through as a result, but I’m also looking forward to hearing the story the LORD has given you and your family, Brittany! May He greatly bless you in the process as He did me! There’s a fellowship that comes about in suffering that cannot be denied, both with the LORD and with those who have been there or see to enter in. In many ways, it’s an unwelcome fellowship, but yet it also brings a sweetness that is precious. Love to you, sister! =)

Your turn! I'd love to hear your thoughts or questions.