Cancer U-turn


One beautiful, sunny African afternoon, my life changed forever.

For two years, I had asked my gynaecologist for a mammogram. For two years, he had told me it wasn’t necessary. Finally another specialist sent me for a “routine mammogram and ultrasound” which turned out to not be as routine as I’d hoped. I had breast cancer. And because it hadn’t been discovered earlier, it had already spread to the glands.

How can I describe the experience? 

It was like when you are tearing along the road, enjoying the scenery and eager to arrive at your destination, and all of a sudden the road turns back on itself. You jam on brakes and grip the steering wheel in an effort to keep the car under control as you attempt to navigate the U-turn you hadn’t seen coming.

It was just like that.

I jammed on brakes, gripped my steering wheel, and sped into battle against what turned out to be an aggressive form of cancer. With the use of a skilled surgeon, an unconventional and courageous oncologist, a supportive family, and a team of praying friends, God pulled me through that dreadful year of treatment. Not only did I survive the U-turn, I found myself travelling, as you do with a U-turn, in a different direction. I went from being a nursing sister to being a published author.

God promises in His Word that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him” (Romans 8:28). It took me a while to see it. But I began to realise how many invaluable lessons God taught me during my “cancer year,” and it wasn’t long before He prompted me to share these lessons with others in the form of meditations.

The words of Isaiah 40:31 followed me throughout the whole cancer experience:

They that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles.

StrengthRenewed-3DI wanted so badly to have my strength renewed, but how do you wait on anyone, even the Lord, when you are told you have cancer?

The Lord was ready and willing to teach me. Sometimes I got it right, and sometimes I didn’t. But gradually and patiently He led me through many bumpy experiences, and I emerged from the journey closer to Him than ever before.

My Book: Strength Renewed, Meditations for Your Journey through Breast Cancer tells about 90 of the experiences and lessons I learned. It is my prayer that my readers will be blessed and helped as they navigate the U-turns in their lives—hopefully with more control over the steering wheel than I often had.

Endnote: You will enjoy reading Shirley’s informative website, Rise and Soar – above the cancer valley.

Shirley is the author of Strength Renewed, Meditations for Your Journey through Breast Cancer, a book of 90 encouraging messages based on Scripture and anecdotes from her own cancer journey. She is also the author of hundreds of inspirational articles published in print and online. She lives in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.

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2017-02-16T00:44:17+00:00 October 21st, 2016|Categories: Cancer, Testimony|Tags: , , |4 Comments


  1. Ann Goodfellow April 19, 2013 at 9:48 pm - Reply

    Shirl & I exchanged books. I really enjoyed ‘Strength Renewed’. Shirl’s experiences apply to us all as we go through the trails and difficulties of life. Well done Shirl!

  2. Shirley April 4, 2014 at 8:04 pm - Reply

    Thanks Ann. I enjoyed your devotional book as well.

  3. mosa Leokaoke October 21, 2016 at 2:05 pm - Reply

    Thank you. Will definitely get the book. I was diagnosed with breast cancer which was discovered on my liver. Started chemo Jan & now on hormonal blocking pills and believing God has healed me and He will see me through it all.

    • Aldyth Thomson
      Aldyth Thomson December 23, 2016 at 8:08 pm - Reply

      Mosa, we will be praying for you in January. Please let us know how your chemo goes. Much love, Aldyth Thomson

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