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October 4, 2010

LKL Web Exclusive: Joni Tada's battle with breast cancer

Posted: 12:10 PM ET

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month and to bring attention to this disease, here is a LKL web exclusive by Joni Eareckson Tada on her battle with breast cancer.

When most people learn I'm battling breast cancer, they can't hide their shock. "You?" they ask, "but you're already dealing with quadriplegia and chronic pain. How can you handle cancer?" The truth is, it's hard. But I do have some help...

Over the past couple years, my pain issues had pushed me into the Bible to better understand miraculous healing - why does God heal some people and not others? Does God still perform larger-than-life miracles such as Jesus did when he walked on earth? I had wrestled with these questions decades earlier when a diving accident in 1967 left me a spinal-cord injured quadriplegic; back then, I begged God to heal me. Forty years later I’m happy, but still in my wheelchair. My joy, though, got tested when chronic pain became an issue. That’s when it forced me to take a closer look at Jesus' ministry of healing.

My study resulted in a book called A Place of Healing - I was so grateful for what I had learned and wanted to pass on the insights to others. The book is a raw, no-holds-barred inspection of the biblical view on miraculous healing, and in April, I handed in the manuscript to my publisher. By early June, A Place of Healing was at the press.

That was the week I discovered the lump in my breast. I was stunned. A needle biopsy and mastectomy happened in quick succession - I had stage 3 cancer and my lymph nodes were involved. Next was a meeting with my medical oncologist – in one hour, I learned a port-cath would be surgically implanted in my chest, and my frail quadriplegic body would be assaulted with powerful and highly toxic chemotherapy drugs. When the oncologist got up to leave for a moment, I began sobbing – it was the first time since hearing I had cancer that I broke down. I forgot all about my book.

That is, until I received a published copy of A Place of Healing in the mail a month or so later. Still shaking from my second round of chemotherapy, I slowly flipped through its pages. Would the answers I had found in the Bible about pain and healing still give comfort and encouragement? I started reading a chapter that focused on Jesus’ priorities when it came to physical healing. The words were a little jarring for in Matthew 18:9 Jesus says, "If your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell." Although Jesus is using a metaphor, it shows where his priority lies - the most important prophet to come along in centuries; the one who healed thousands, was willing to sacrifice a person’s physical well-being for their spiritual healing any day. Peace that's profound... a settled soul... contentment, full and rich... and joy sent straight from heaven. All these things are gifts from God.

This is the kind of healing I experienced decades ago after I broke my neck… it’s the healing that’s seen me through years of pain… and it’s true as I battle cancer. At one time my heart’s desire was to be on my feet; then to be free of pain; and now, to one day be declared cancer-free. But the bottom-line, no matter what I go through, my desire is simply this: to know God better. He is ecstasy beyond compare and it’s worth anything to be His friend. And if it takes a wheelchair or stage 3 cancer to do that, then fine.

Healing is a perplexing and troublesome topic. There’s not a disabled person I know who doesn’t pray for physical healing. But I often thank God that He never raised me up out of my wheelchair - if I had been granted a healing decades ago, I know I wouldn't now be in a ministry serving other people with disabilities around the world. And with another round or two of chemotherapy to go, will I be declared cancer-free? I don’t know. What I do know is, God's peace in my heart will see me through.

My place of healing is in the arms of God. Yes, it’s biblical to pray for a miracle (it’s only human to ask God for healing), but I want people to be healed where it’s going to count for eternity. We don't need to hold quadriplegia, pain, cancer or any other suffering in contempt - it just may be the open door to joy and peace for those who are paralyzed by unbelief and blind to deeper, more satisfying truths.

Filed under: Joni Eareckson Tada • Larry King Live • LKL Web Exclusive


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loyd haffey   October 5th, 2010 1:02 am ET

Larry: your show to-night is about bullying.

the bullys in our school had the abilty to get the teachers on their side and when the bullied complaind hey were told they were a trouble maker nand was unable to get along with others and it was their fault.

Instead of thes kids taking their own life they should consider the alternative. Eliminating the bullie. The problem is they ruin their own lives and the bullis is made a hero or a martyr.

Bullying is also carried out in families.


loyd haffey   October 5th, 2010 1:04 am ET

PS: Larry: Im sure going to miss you when you leave.

I'm also missing Rick Sanchez.


Kay DeWitt   October 8th, 2010 2:26 pm ET

Joni ...and tragically so...is one of very few Christians of whom I can say, "there is someone who truly 'KNOWS' the Lord...knows His Heart and what are the things that matter most to Him"...On Father's Day, in June of 2007, I had the awesome privilege of meeting Joni personally because, at the time, I was playing the piano at the Charlotte airport and Joni had flown in to Charlotte to attend Ruth Graham's funeral. Minutes before Joni was to pass by my piano, I decided to grab my violin and play "Danny Boy" and, since I always play the violin with my eyes closed, I did not see Joni approach the piano until she was practically right in front of me...I was so grateful that I had the chance to tell Joni that, when I am asked to speak, I very often use a statement she made, years ago, to better explain what it REALLY means to be a witness to the fulfillment of the Lord's promise to us when He said, "My Grace is sufficient for thee"..And the statement that Joni made, that I was referring to, is: "I'd rather know Him sitting in this wheelchair totally paralyzed than be up and around walking and NOT know Him"...And the reason that I so often quote Joni's state-
ment is because Christendom, at large, has made a mockery of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ because the cross that Jesus told us we must pick up, if we desire to BE His disciple, has become as much of an offense to Christians as it is to the world.
The apostle Paul said that he considered everything as loss...
"garbage"...compared to the surpassing greatness of KNOWING Christ Jesus the Lord...so, first and foremost, we are called to know Him..and the fact that Joni states that she'd rather be paralyzed and know Him than up and around walking and NOT know Him bears witness to what is the depth of her true spirituality...The apostle Paul also said, "it is no longer 'I' who lives but Christ Who lives in me", which is the end-product OF one's knowing Him...and becoming "one with Him"...THEREFORE, the Lord cares more about how holy we are
...via how much He is able to manifest Himself THROUGH us...than how healthy we are and, so, despite what prosperity preachers would have us believe, Joni's afflictions do not, in any way, NOT bear witness to the One she is becoming one with...I did not know that Joni had cancer, and I will, certainly, be storming heaven for her...
I just thank her for being a "Jesus with skin on" to her (His) dying..
sin-sick world...and that, when she departs the world, she... despite her "physical" sickness...will be leaving her world a little LESS sin-sick than she found it BECAUSE she has been "a Jesus with skin on" in, and to, her (His) world!


Beth Simpson   October 14th, 2010 5:46 pm ET

Thank you for sharing Joni's precious testimony of how faithful God has been through her life's circumstances. As another Stage 3A breast cancer survivor of 20 months and 4 days, I understand all too well the difficult journey of chemotherapy and radiation. However, I didn't have the additional health and body challenges that Mrs. Tada experiences.

Joni – keep on giving God the glory for all things he allows you to do. Your artwork and writings are such an encouragement to other "sisters" who are on both similar and very different journeys. I, too, can be thankful for the difficulties of life because of the extraordinary people I've met and places I've been that a life without cancer wouldn't have afforded.


Jan Koelsch   October 15th, 2010 5:28 am ET

As a breast cancer survivor and taking AIs for the past three and a half years, also with chronic pain, and other multiple issues, I understand where you are coming. And, I just had a friend last week pass away from liver cancer. She fought liver cancer for over a year from her diagnosis. Healing has been a question of mine especially when so many people are dealing with a cancer diagnosis.

Your statement quoted above about knowing God as a quad rather than walking around not know God really hit home with me. And I have to agree.

I have always marveled Joni at your radiance and glow that surrounds you and conveys how much you love the Lord. Thank you for giving me and others a lot to think about. Keep on challenging us, in those moments when we feel the weakest.

My prayers are with you.


PATRICIA HARRINGTON   October 15th, 2010 7:58 am ET

...JONI,,YOUR NEW BOOK-'A PLACE OF HEALING'..I BROUGHT IT'S ATTENTION TO MY FREE PUBLIC LIBRARY AND REQUESTED THEY PURCHASED IT. TIMES ARE NOT EASY,,I BATTLE MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS,,SPINAL ARTHRITIS AND SEVERAL MORE HEALTH ISSUES. PRAISE THE LORD.....YESTERDAY THE BOOK WAS PROCESSED AT THE LIBRARY..I STARTED READING IT TODAY.
ALSO LAST NIGHT WAS HORRIBLE PAIN, I CONSIDER TO BE CLOSER TO THE LORD RIGHT NOW IN MY LIFE TIME...THAN EVER. BUT IN SUCH PAIN MY EYES FELL UPON THE BOOK BY MY BEDSIDE..I DO NOT KNOW WHY GOD DOES NOT HEAL OR DOES HE HEAR MY PAIN..? I WILL PROBALLY PUT THE BOOK ON MY CHRISTMAS LIST..I HAVE BEEN A little BIT PRETTY GOOD GIRL..!
GOD BLESS YOU AND STRENGHTEN AND HEAL YOU JONI.


Sheila Estelle   October 15th, 2010 2:32 pm ET

Dear Joni,

Your life song has been such a beacon of hope and blessing for so many people and thank you for helping to shine forth the love of Jesus through your life ministry and work.

Praying for you and for the Master's divine touch! And may He anoint you
with his blessed joy and give you much peace!

In Him our Rock and fortress!!!

~ Sheila Estelle


Judy Bland   October 16th, 2010 8:49 am ET

I first met you at a seminar in Dallas in 1978 for Home Interiiors and Gifts with Mary Crowley. My 3 1/2 year old had recently started to have sever seizures. We again my family was able to meet you at Reunion Arena a few months later backstage at a youth conference and she kissed your hand. I am sure you do not remember these meetings, but they have made a big impact on our lives. Thank you for your time and kindness toward me and my family during a very rough time.
Since then both of my girls and I have worked with students and adults with disabilities for over 20 years. I was awarded the Governor's Trophy for working with this population in 2009.
I am also a breast cancer survivor of 5 years as of November 11th. I found a BB size knot on Oct. 16, 2005 and reacted quickly. My oncologist told me 2 weeks after surgery that if I had not reacted as quickly we would not have been having the conversation about possible treatments (I would not be here). I told him the knot was not there the night before discovery and he said that I was right because my cancer was hormone fed and very aggressive. I talk to everyone now about early detection and reaction, it saved my life. I am sorry that you are fighting such a terrible fight, but I know that God still has a plan for you.
If I did not have my faith in God and did not turn everything over to him, my life would be totally out of control. Thank you for being a huge influence in my family's lives. The daughter with seizures (now seizure free) has a 9 year old daughter and I was telling her about you this week.


sameh   October 23rd, 2010 7:19 am ET

Joni, please help me to join and participate in the service with you because I hope so .... I hope to see you and talk to you in your visit to Egypt


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