The Year Of The Two Big Cs

Joy Roxborough shares how her faith in God helped her over the COVID pandemic and cancer, and why she’s hopeful about 2024

For me, the past couple of years seem to have merged into one and has been reminiscent of the proverbial rollercoaster ride. As much as I may – to some degree – relish the thrill of fairground rides, there are those points when I inevitably scream, “Stop! Stop! I want to get off!” My stomach churns and I wonder how I ever found myself on this ride in the first place. But I can’t stop it and know I have to wait till it runs its course. I keep the end in view, knowing it will only be a few minutes before I feel that gradual slowing down – the signal that my feet will soon be on firm ground again.

The only problem with the rollercoaster of the past couple of years is that it lasted much longer than a mere few minutes, I had no idea when it would end and, if and when it did, I didn’t know whether my feet would ever touch the ground again.

One of the major occurrences was, of course, the pandemic. It was horrendous for everyone, whether you contracted it yourself or not. I don’t remember exactly when it all started but I tend to refer to the title of a Spotify playlist I created at the time. I called the playlist, ‘Faith Hope Songs – started 2020 – The Year of the 2 Big Cs’. The two big Cs were COVID, which I did not personally have, and cancer, which I did.

I say it in rather a matter-of-fact way now, but at the time of diagnosis for breast cancer, I was in utter disbelief. I can’t say I was a burgeoning bundle of faith either. My stomach did churn. I was on my knees, and I was scared – to death – of dying. Some people survive but not everyone does. Which group would I be in? This was the one thing I never wanted to face – well, not just then anyway.

I was in the middle of doing a master’s degree at the time and had completed half of the two-year course. My part-time job had come to an end at that time too, and I had no recourse to any of the usual financial assistance because of my student status. So, I was faced with either abandoning the course or continuing without finances. Taking time out was not an option either – for reasons beyond the scope of this article to explain. Suffice to say, I felt caught between the devil and the deep blue sea.

I plodded on through the quagmire of bewilderment, fear, fatigue, tears, treatment, work, some amount of sleeplessness and, at times, irritation – even anger – holding onto God as best I could.

Reflecting on it now, I think the magnitude of what I was dealing with only hit me afterwards, when my feet felt as though they were somewhat back on the ground. This was the point when several people started to say to me, “I don’t know how you did it.”

I felt I only did what I had to do at every juncture, but it wasn’t merely my doing. Reflection has also overwhelmed me with the breadth of support that God surrounded me with through it all: from the friends who spent time with me on the phone; to the friends who took me to my appointments and came and sat with me at home for hours, making sure I had eaten a meal before leaving; my mother, across the seas, who supported me with practical medical advice and encouragement; the friends who supported me financially; the MP and staff who helped with dealing with the onerous financial regulations; my brother, who always checked on me and carried the burden bravely, having already lost a sister through the same disease, and whose happiness I witnessed when he saw improvements in my countenance; the people who prayed for me, sent me flowers, visited, did my shopping; my tutors at the university who supported and signposted; and the hospital staff and various charities, who supported with well-being sessions, advice and practical support.

No one knows what the future holds but, as we move into a new year, one thing all this has taught me is that the same God who was with me through the highs and lows of the past few years’ rollercoaster ride is the same God who will continue to be with each of us…no matter what.

Joy Roxborough is a creative writer and regular contributor to Keep The Faith magazine.

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