“Check my war wounds, check my war wounds, every soldier gotta story to tell”…Master P War Wounds 2005
We have all been in a storm and made it though. Most of us have scars, and whether they are visible to the naked eye or something not seen, they all tell a story. I used to be so proud of the fact that I had barely any scars growing up. Except for the little stitch scar on my right ear when I had a keloid removed at 9, I was essentially blemish free!Now have four scars, one under each arm and one on each breast.
I, Shelley Renee’ Barnes, am a cancer CONQUEROR. Yes, not survivor, but CONQUEROR. Technically, these scars represent the simple locations of incision to remove two malignant tumors, and to check my lymph nodes for cancerous cells (which by the way are negative…woo hoo). But when I look at these scars in the mirror, I see faith, unconditional love, hope, encouragement and courage. Surviving means to endure or live through…conquering signifies that I overcame by force and gained the victory after the battle. I like that better lol. Nothing but the grace and love of God has enabled me to view my situation they way I have. His presence gives me peace, and He has surrounded me with people whose prayers and love have made this journey sweatless. My scars remind me of the surprise preparation party with my girls threw for me before my surgery, where they prayed over me and we ate great food, and the prayer Ab wrote for me the night before, or the day when I was so emotionally drained that Roi came over with gummy bears and flowers and sent me a link to Tupac’s “Keep Ya Head Up”. Or how my sister comes to every doctor’s appointment and remains a pillar of strength and how Tekeah encouraged me to write this very blog to express myself. They remind me of how much my parents really love me, not just that I had cancer. It’s not our scars that define us; it’s our character and actions going through that crisis which matters the most. It’s the testimony that we come out of the storm with. It’s coming out on top, being amazed at how much strength you really have. God never ceases to amaze me, and through every challenge we endure, the greater good will be triumphant.
When I told my Dad about my 2nd diagnosis, he began to send me a Daily Word email with a link to a short message and scripture. One day, the word for the day was GRACE, which is also my sweet grandmother’s name. For the first time in my 27 years, he shared with me her cancer story. He was a 20 year old college student, and the doctor’s diagnosed his mother with liver cancer and 6 months to live. She went thru extensive chemo and radiation, and in his own words “Mom never complained or embraced a moment of fear…Mom in her true moment of GRACE, taught us all a lesson about faith and lived another 21 years to see my children grow into strong young girls. Remember Grace’s healing moment this week. She loved you very much and you have her DNA and determination.”
That simple email gave me a boost of faith and confidence in God that was unstoppable. And my father sharing that with me was a breakthrough, his own way of letting me know that regardless of how things look, I have the victory.
John 16:33 (The Message)
31-33Jesus answered them, “Do you finally believe? In fact, you’re about to make a run for it—saving your own skins and abandoning me. But I’m not abandoned. The Father is with me. I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.”