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  • Writer's pictureJulie Murphy

The Little Book

I eyed the clock as I started dinner and prayed that the doctor would call with the results of my biopsy. She said she would get back to me by Friday and now it was 4:30. Her office would be closed for the weekend. Really? Would I have to wait until Monday?

As I chopped veggies, I wondered why I was so bothered. I couldn’t have cancer anyway. Nobody in my family got cancer. All my life I had taken good care of myself. I paid attention to what I ate and kept lean and active. At 69, I was healthy and strong.  

Five o’clock arrived. I had to know. Grabbing my iPhone, I signed into MyChart in a burst that matched the November shower outside the kitchen window. The nurse had warned me against trying to interpret results on my own. But I knew I would find good news. It was time to put this concern behind me.  

I clicked on the Test Results link. The medical notes looked like a foreign language to me. All except for one word: carcinoma. It shocked me like a bolt of lightning. I slammed my eyes shut and blackened the phone. There must be some mistake. Maybe they got my tests mixed up with someone else’s. The nurse called an hour later, confirming what I didn’t want to hear. I had breast cancer.  

I remembered back in college fervently praying for the healing of my roommate’s friend who was seriously ill. I was shocked when he died. If only I had enough faith – just the size of a teeny mustard seed! How did a person get faith like that?

On Sunday at church, my pastors and friends gathered around me to pray. I felt a flood of peace surge through my core, and I knew that God would see me through.

As doctor appointments were set and tests scheduled, it didn’t seem real. But God felt close and encouragement through his word felt personal. With each passing day I felt my faith increase.

I sat in my oncologist’s exam room for the first time, straining to understand what she was saying. Her Covid mask and thick accent made it even harder to grasp the confusing terms of cancer and the tests and treatments I would need. One thing was clear. She was in a hurry to get started. It was all too much.

As my husband drove me home, I aired my frustration. “I can’t understand her. This isn’t going to work.”

Michael nodded his agreement. “Start looking for another doctor. If nothing else, we need a second opinion about the results.”

By the end of November, I knew I didn’t just have breast cancer. I had an aggressive form of breast cancer, and I needed to start treatment soon. But what kind of treatment? And who would be my doctor?  I couldn’t get in to see the one recommended to me until after Christmas. Was I foolish to delay treatment?

I woke at 3:00 AM that night, darkness wrapping around me like a shroud. I prayed, What do I do, God? Michael is worried I’m too thin to tolerate chemo. Maybe a mastectomy would be enough. Radiation?" For sure I would find a naturopath. My friend Sharon had good luck with hers. 

Slipping out of bed, I headed to the living room couch to pray, carefully stepping where the hardwood floor didn’t creak.  As I walked past the bookshelf, I saw a book lying out of place and tried to find a spot to shelve it. The bookshelf was full, but there was a manila envelope shoved between two paperbacks. I pulled it out and shelved the misplaced book with a sense of satisfaction.

I looked at the envelope curiously. It was addressed to me from my friend Arlene. When I shook it open, out dropped a little book entitled Healed of Cancer. “You have my attention, God,” I whispered, remembering Arlene pulling the envelope out of her purse and giving it to me a couple years earlier to offer consolation when a family member was injured.

I clicked on the lamp next to the couch, curled up in its circle of yellow light, and opened it. As I read, my heart began to burn and glow with the presence of the Holy Spirit. Healed of Cancer was the story of a woman like me. She had always lived a healthy lifestyle and her cancer diagnosis had seemed to strike out of a clear blue sky.

When the doctors could do nothing more for her, she was sent home to die. But instead of giving up, she and her husband searched the Bible for what was written about faith in God for healing. And now, God had handed me those same words of faith.

I cling to these verses from the little book on healing that God dropped into my hands that night:

"Listen to me…,you whom I have upheld since your birth, and have carried since you were born. Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you." – Isaiah 46:3,4

I have a much wider perspective of what it means to have faith than I did as a young person in college when my roommate’s friend died.

Faith moves mountains, absolutely.

But faith also trusts that God’s purposes are greater than our understanding.

I know without a shadow of a doubt that God is with me, and he will guide me forward.


Julie Murphy was born in Washington State and has remained a happy Washingtonian all her life. She operated a landscape design company with her husband for many years, and then followed her dream of serving as a pastor. The outdoors, gardening, and exploring family history give her joy. She love-love-loves living near her grown children and five grandchildren (3 are triplets!). And her husband is pretty great, too!

If you like stories about hope in dark times, check out Janet Asbridge's exciting new novel, Atomic Secrets, here.



May 02

Julie, thank you for sharing your journey. Your story is inspiring and a great reminder that God hears us and meets us in our point of need. He is faithful! You are a blessing sweet sister.


May 01

Read this with tears in my eyes. Julie is my cancer sister and we share the same powerful, loving father who is capable of healing any disease!


Laurie Gaither
Laurie Gaither
May 01

Wow! That's all I have. Julie has always been a source of wisdom and faith in my life. Even in the darkness of a cancer diagnosis, she soothes me, teaches me, inspires me. So GLAD she shared her story!

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