By Josephine Titchmarsh
The song “Living Hope” by Phil Wickham truly touches me every single time I listen to it because I’ve experienced first-hand what it is like to go through the toughest year and a half on my life with critical, near-death conditions and difficult decisions to make.
During the first UK Covid-19 lockdown in May 2020, I was diagnosed with endometrial cancer. The tumour had grown considerably such that surgery was the only treatment option. The surgery was successful, but it was more complex than expected because doctors discovered that the size of the main tumour was about 9-12 centimetres and had already spread from my womb to the surrounding lymph nodes. Because of this, I underwent chemotherapy 4 weeks after the abdominal surgery.
After some time, I started to suffer from symptoms of brain metastatic cancer, and this was the worst time of my life. I was earlier told that there was only a 0.01% possibility of the cancer spreading to the brain and asked myself what wrong I had done to be among the ones who got it.
It felt like I had reached the end of the road. I was in total despair and without hope when one of the radiotherapy consultants broke the news that I had 3-6 months left to live and advised me to make the most of my time to get my affairs in order and to do all things I want to do on earth.
Out of kindness and concern, my cousin, Cynthia Eng, who works in Cornerstone Community Church Singapore (CSCC), contacted me after she heard about my condition. She connected me with Mabel from the CSCC Freedom Ministry to pray for me. Mabel advised me to sign up online to receive prayer for healing after the Saturday service, which I did.
“Jo, do you believe in God?”, Mabel asked me during our first meeting. “Do you have faith in God?” At that time, I told her that I did not have any answer to her questions. I had walked away from God since I moved to England 20 years ago. Nevertheless, Mabel continued to call me every week to pray for me. She told me to keep listening to the audio Bible even while I was resting or sleeping to let the Word of God renew my mind. She also encouraged me not to give up.
Initially, the doctors revealed that brain metastasis could be treated with targeted radiotherapy. However, in my case, the tumour was too big and growing too quickly such that the only treatment option was to undergo brain surgery (awake craniotomy) to excise it. On top of this distressing procedure, the greatest fear that hit me hard was the neurosurgeons informing me that all symptoms that I was experiencing – slurred speech, a lopsided face and not being able to write properly – would be permanent. That night I went to sleep in tears.
It was then in this darkest hour of my life that I dreamt of an incredible light that came and held onto my right hand. I felt as though there was someone holding me, and the light I saw was the brightest I had ever seen. I was laughing so much through the night.
The next morning, I was beaming with joy and there was a liberty in my spirit. I was no longer weighed down by fear and anxiety. Instead, my burdens were lifted, and I was filled with such hope. While we were having breakfast, my husband told me that I seemed like a completely different person. Indeed, God’s love gave me comfort and I understood that I could lean on Him. I also decided to go for water baptism not long after.
The day of the surgery came, and even though I was still fully aware of what was going on in the operating theatre, songs of worship kept running through my head. The same bright light that I had seen in my dream brought me through the ordeal. It was so bright I could see it so clearly even with my eyes shut. Many friends were also supporting me in prayer and there was such a peace in my heart throughout the procedure. God saw me through the surgery and even healed me of the symptoms that was said to be permanent!
Two weeks after the brain surgery, I had to deal with yet another piece of bad news. My CT and MRI scans revealed that the cancer had spread to my liver, two more lymph nodes and the dura (lining) of the brain, and immediate treatment was necessary. I remember being alone in the hospital, filled with sadness and pain, asking God why I was still suffering from this disease when I had received Christ?
God faithfully guided me to read the Bible and He answered my question through the Scriptures.
Before I received Christ, every piece of news I received was worse than the last. Things always seemed to be going downhill. After I received Christ and surrendered completely to Him, I had the assurance that He would see me through any kind of suffering. He has given me a hope that never changes.
With that, I went through five sessions of whole brain radiotherapy after the abscess surgery. How amazing it was when the MRI after the brain radiotherapy showed no sign of tumour on the dura. God promised to deliver me, and He did! I couldn’t stop praising God for His kindness! No one around me could understand or help me, but God could.
Most patients diagnosed with advanced stages of cancer experience high possibility of relapse. However, I know God keeps His promises. My hope and confidence have been restored ever since Jesus Christ entered my life.
No one knows how long we will live. But I know that He alone will see me through every season of my life. Every day when I wake up, I give thanks to God for His grace and His love, and for the greatest promise of eternal life. He has shown me mercy and cleansed me of my sins. I have encountered the God of miracles. Because of Him, I have surpassed the six months of life which the consultant had pronounced on me. Blessed be His name!
Hallelujah, praise the One who has set me free, and death has lost its grip on me. Jesus Christ, my living hope. Jesus Christ, He is my victory!