Last August, a breast cancer diagnosis brought Anne Graham Lotz’ busy schedule to a screeching halt. Instead of her usual agenda of traveling and speaking, she underwent surgery, seven brutal chemotherapy infusions and a month of daily radiation treatments. But as she described in a recent interview with Decision—the day before her final radiation treatment—God had a purpose and a number of blessings for her in the midst of the struggle.
Q: How are you feeling as you approach the end of your radiation treatments?
A: Tomorrow’s the last day (April 24). I’m so thankful. I’ve really sailed right through radiation; I’m just very, very tired. If I sit down for long, my head starts to nod. Sometimes when I go to pray, I fall asleep. But it’ll be over soon, and I hope to get my strength and energy back.
Q: I understand you’ll be continuing with infusions every three weeks into October.
A: That’s right. We’re doing all this so that it never comes back. But I have no doubt that the Lord has healed me—I believe He’s said that to me from Scripture several times, but at the same time I believe, because He led me to these doctors, that I was to follow through on what they told me to do.
Q: How anxious are you to get back to speaking and teaching?
A: My heart’s aim all my adult life has been to be where God wanted me to be. I’m pursuing Him, not ministry, and I want to be where He is. So, if He puts me here, I’m just happy to be here. If He puts me back on the road, I’m happy to be back on the road. If He never puts me back on the road, I’m happy with that, too. Right now, I have absolute confidence this is where He wants me to be.
And what I’ve loved is that God will bring something to my mind, and without being on a schedule, I’ll write a blog or I’ll put something on Instagram. When you have time to be alone with the Lord, time to listen through the Scriptures, you hear things that you don’t hear when you’re busy.
Q: What were your thoughts when the doctor told you that you had breast cancer?
A: The Lord had let me know the day before. And I just had the sense that when I had my mammogram, that’s what they would find. When you have a mammogram, if you’re fine, they release you right away. But they had me wait and wait. And then they came back and wanted to do an ultrasound. I said, “I know you found something.” And they said yes. The radiologist took my hand and said, “Mrs. Lotz, are you OK?” And I said, “I’m fine. And I’m fine because I know God is in control. God knew from the time I was born that this would happen.”
But as I drove home on that Friday, it sort of shook me that it was Aug. 17 between 3 and 3:30 when I was diagnosed, and that was the very time three years earlier that I had found my husband, Danny, unresponsive in our pool. Same date, same time of day. That sent a chill through me because I thought, It’s the devil at work.
But just as I was forming that thought, the Lord reminded me that it was also a Friday between 3 and 3:30 in the afternoon when Jesus died on the cross, and His death trumped the devil and death and disease. I did not have to be afraid that this was of the devil. It was timed by God. So I had a strong sense of purpose that this was my next assignment.
God gave me a supernatural confidence. Philippians 1:21 says, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain,” and the next verse says, “If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me.” So, I’m not one to cling to life. I want to cling to God’s will. I want to fulfill what He has for my life, and if I’m finished, I’m finished. So I’m OK.
Q: What has God been teaching you?
A: Many people who are diagnosed with something like this wonder, Why did this happen to me? Why didn’t God protect me? Does He not love me? What did I do to deserve this? I felt like I needed to set an example as someone who loves the Lord. I love Him more today than I did when I was first diagnosed. This cancer is not any indication that I’ve been bad or that He doesn’t love me or that He hasn’t blessed me. It’s just my assignment. It’s what He’s given me so I can use it to glorify Him.
Q: You’ve put many of your cancer posts into an e-book for people to download. Do you feel like there’s another book taking shape in your mind about the things that you’ve been learning?
A: Yes. I have one coming out in October. I contracted for it maybe a year and a half or two years ago, but I was writing it when the diagnosis came down. The title is “Jesus in Me: Experiencing the Holy Spirit as a Constant Companion.” I feel like I couldn’t have made it through without that constant companionship of the Holy Spirit. He has enabled me to get up every morning to do what I’ve had to do, to handle some of the horrendous chemo side effects.
I think my overall message after going through this is the blessings of God. He has poured out His blessings, and if there’s one thing I’d say to women who are going through this, it would be to ask God to give you the eyes to see His blessings because they’re all around you. But we miss them if we don’t look for them. We shouldn’t be so focused on our own pain or our own discomfort or disappointments or the fact that what we had planned didn’t come about that we miss what He has for us.
One of the huge blessings is my family. I have a daughter who doesn’t have any children, and she felt called of God to be with me almost every moment. She’s done my grocery shopping. She’s nursed me. My other daughter has three children, but even so, she has been with me almost as much as my other daughter. And my son has come down a couple of weekends a month to do all the “honey do” things I can’t get to. It’s a blessing, the strength that you receive from family. Every day I get up with thanksgiving in my heart, and every night I go to bed with thanksgiving in my heart, for what God has done.
Q: What kind of advice or encouragement would you offer others who maybe are going through this kind of thing?
A: I think one is to start your day with prayer and Bible reading. And then look for the blessings. Don’t look for the disappointments. Don’t look for the things that you can’t do. In fact, somebody has written about the things that cancer can’t do, and I probably got through four or five of them and then I got tired of it. So I wrote a list of about two dozen things that cancer can do. It increases your joy. It develops your friendships. It develops your prayer life. We just need to look for the blessings. And then, if you don’t have a prayer partner, ask God to give you one.
Q: How can people be praying for you?
A: The thing I’m most concerned about is that I don’t want to miss what God has for me. I don’t want to miss the assignment. If He puts something on my heart, I don’t want to miss it. I just don’t want to miss His whisper and what He has for me now.
Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version.
Interviewed by Bob Paulson, editor, Decision.