Peace and hope filled my innermost being as I listened to the waves crash against the shore.

I felt the warm breeze on my face and the smell of salt was in the air.  Beautiful shades of red and yellow graced the night sky as the sun disappeared below the horizon. My spirit was renewed and I was appreciative to share this moment with my amazing husband who joined me for a sunset buffet of sub sandwiches, sun chips, and cokes. Even though our new normal was looming all around us, I felt closer to God than I had in several months.

And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love is. Ephesians 3:18 (NLT)


New Normal

The new normal had been forced on us in a devastating way. We didn’t choose our new normal. It chose us… me.

In December 2008, I was diagnosed with Stage 3a, Grade III, Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (breast cancer). Amidst my shock and denial, I was given a never ending list of do’s and don’ts, as well as a treatment plan. The main thing I heard was… ‘And you can’t be in the sun’. Seriously! The oncologist was telling me that I couldn’t go on any day trips, staycations, or vacations to the beach during the upcoming spring and summer due to the chemotherapy and surgery that awaited me. That news left me even more shattered because the beach was my refuge.

Little did I realize that I really would not have the time or energy to go to the beach or even sit in the sun in my backyard during the chemotherapy and surgery.

Once chemotherapy began, I only had the energy to work. Weekends were consumed with recovering from chemo treatments.


The Escape

After five months of chemotherapy and two months recuperating from two surgeries, it was time for radiation. I was still trying to figure out how I could get to the beach but not be in the direct sun.

In between the summer rains and blazing sun, we escaped for a Saturday night sunset.

We loaded two beach chairs in the truck and headed to the Gulf of Mexico. We planned to enjoy dinner on the beach and watch the sun go down. Everyone else had the same idea and the restaurants were packed full of hungry people.

Time was of the essence so we purchased two sub sandwiches, sun chips and cokes and headed for the beach. My energy was low and the sand was deep but I managed to make it to my chair. As I sat there, I experienced a range of emotions.

  • I was grateful for so much but most of all that God was with me through the last few months and I knew that He would see me through whatever came my way.
  • I was blessed to have family, caregivers and the best medical team.
  • I was thankful to have attended the graduation of my youngest daughter and be planning my eldest daughter’s wedding.
  • I was sad that I couldn’t come to the beach more often but overjoyed that I finally got to see the sunset, feel the sand on my toes and smell the salt in the air.

So much had changed over the past eight months since my diagnosis. I had traveled through so many emotions, questioned God and actually asked him, “Why me?”



All of those emotions seemed to melt away as I listened to the waves and watched the sun descend below the horizon. This moment gave me such hope.

I am confident of this one thing… “God will meet you where you are and take you where you need to be.” Even as I write this, I look back on this season in my life and say, “Only God.”  “Only God” could get me through that difficult season and sustain me each day.

No matter what you face today, whether it is loneliness, divorce, sickness, or financial challenges, rest in knowing that God has a plan and He is with you.

“I know what I am doing. I have it all planned out – plans take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.” Jeremiah 29:11 (MSG)

laura-starnerLaura is a breast cancer survivor and advocate for women who teaches how to get through cancer without losing yourself. She is also a wife, mom, Mimi (Grandma) author, speaker, blogger and encourager at heart. She is passionate about sharing her journey through breast cancer to encourage, inspire and empower others. Her story is published in her book Keeping It Real: Personal Reflections of My Journey Through Breast Cancer.

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