Story told by Fulya Hansen.
Me and my daughter, Tiffany, the summer before my cancer treatment began.
At age 47, I was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer. My doctor thought it would be best to attack it aggressively and I began chemo and radiation at the same time.
Except for the weekends, I spent my days alone. My young daughter, Tiffany, was at school and busy with sports. I had left my family behind in Turkey years before to move to the United States. I loved it here, but I missed them. Thankfully, my husband, John, was able to take care of me in the evening. But he was gone all day at work, and I was isolated in my suffering.
My bones ached. I was weak and sick to my stomach almost all the time. Food tasted metallic and made me nauseous. I began to lose weight. Each day I spent moving from the couch to the bed.
Me and Tiffany on a Saturday after treatment began.
The pain I felt wasn’t only physical. In Turkey, I had received my degree in architecture and when I got to the states, I designed houses. But the economy had gone down and the housing market was weak. To give myself an income, I bought a coffee shop. When I became too sick to manage it, I lost all the money I had put into it. In addition to work trouble, my marriage had been failing. Despite John’s care, our relationship was still difficult. Each day, as I lay in bed, I grieved my losses.
The only good thing during this time, were the gift of books that people from my daughter’s school, King’s Way Christian, left on my porch. I had told someone at the school that I loved fiction by the local inspirational writer, Karen Kingsbury, and almost every day one of her books, along with a devotional, landed on my doorstep.
Before I got sick, I hadn’t read much, even in Turkish. I was too busy. But during this time, God and I read together, and he spoke to me through the books. He was my best buddy. I talked to him about everything. My emotional world began to brighten as I began to rely on God for my every need. I knew he was healing me, and I felt his love.
I had been sick for months when we invited my husband’s family for Christmas dinner. Even though I was weak and it was difficult to decorate for Christmas, it was a wonderful distraction.
Then one night just a few days before Christmas, I felt a pain worse than any I’d felt before. I cried out to John, and he called an ambulance. I have no memory of the ride to the hospital, nor being hooked up to intravenous feeding tubes. My daughter told me later about the family who took turns sitting next to me while I lay unconscious in the hospital. Everyone thought I would die.
But after ten days, I was well enough to return to the home I had designed and built for my family. I was sorry to have missed Christmas, but I was so happy to be home. After all the days in the hospital, it looked like a mansion to me.
I admired my large, beautiful walk-in closet as I stepped inside. But then I stopped in shock and disbelief. Reflected in the full-length mirror I saw what looked like a 90-year-old woman! I had lost so much weight that I looked like a skeleton. Suddenly, death seemed very close.
Instead of feeling afraid, I was excited that heaven was near. I was filled with joy, knowing when I died, I would be even closer to God whom I had grown to love so much.
I had missed Christmas with my family, but suddenly it didn’t matter. The promise of eternity in heaven with God was the best Christmas gift ever.
The gift of a future with God in heaven is for you too.
“But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all people. Today in the town of David a Savior as been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” Luke 10:11.
I have lived cancer free for more than ten years. God is my best friend and I still look forward to my eternal life with him in heaven.
Fulya Hansen loves the rain of Washington State where she lives with her sweet cat Asha. She also loves the sunny warm beaches of the Mediterranean when visiting her family in Turkey. Her daughter, Dr. Tiffany, is the pride and joy of her life. And her interior design business is going strong.