The Branch family’s story of faith

September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, which means this topic is so important to discuss right now. When the sweet Snead family asked me to write about this topic and my family’s experiences, I was so honored. Summarizing the journey my family and I have faced is far from easy but I feel it is so important to share the details that have tested and strengthened our faith. I can only hope that sharing our perspective can help others through their challenges in life.

Cancer. A small word that can shake up your entire life. When paired with the word childhood or the name of a loved one, this word can feel even more devastating. Cancer has brought so much chaos into my life but has also brought me closer to God. I may hate this word but it has truly made me a better Christian. This awful word, this terrible disease has affected me in more than one instance in my life. Once when I was a senior in high school, and the second I’m living through right now.

My sister, Karley, has Ewing’s Sarcoma.

Ewing’s Sarcoma is a type of cancerous tumor that occurs in the soft tissue and bones of the body. This cancer is most common in children but is extremely rare. The Ewing’s Sarcoma tumor developed on the upper part of her spine, T8 and T9 of her Thoracic Spine.  My sister was first diagnosed with this type of tumor in April 2013, and the tumor recurred in March 2018. I find it so hard to summarize Karley’s battle with cancer when so much has happened with her story. If you are interested in more details about Karley’s story, check out the “About” tab on her Facebook page. 

When faced with the heart wrenching news of Karley’s diagnosis, my family’s faith was tested. After the initial feeling of shock, questions whirled around in my head. Questions like, why us? Why is this happening again? Why would God put us through this? Is God punishing us? Is God trying to get our attention?

For most of these questions, I do not have an answer, and I probably will never find an answer throughout my time on Earth. You better believe I’m asking about all this when I get to heaven though! But for now, I think the key to all of these questions is to just let go and lean on Him. This whole cancer nightmare is way bigger than us. God has shown my family this throughout our whole journey. From Karley’s first diagnosis we have turned to Him and even through the thick of the chaos, God has shown little glimpses of His grace.

When asked to write this post, I wasn’t sure how to go about it. I’m not much of a blogger but I wanted to write something meaningful to help spark awareness for this month. I figured that turning to scripture would be the best place to start and reflect. And this verse stood out to me right away…

Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.

Isaiah 58:8-9

When I read this verse I think about the little glimpses of grace or hope God gives us. I think about the little bits of light that break through to help us in our darkest moments in life. This verse reminds me that even when we are in the worst parts of life, God will give us better days.

For my family, we have seen God work in miraculous ways with Karley. Throughout this battle, God has brought so many blessings in so many different ways. These big and small blessings were part of God’s light. From big blessings, like Karley gaining the ability to walk again. To little blessings, like all of the amazing relationships we have developed with so many nurses, doctors, friends, and loved ones. These rays of light we call blessings have helped us through an evil, dark time in our lives.

I may not get the answers to my whirling questions but I truly believe God has a plan for my family. He has shown us once the power of prayer and I have faith that He will show us again. God had our back the first time around and He will have our back again. This challenge we are faced with is a test of our faith in Him and our best way to cope is to lean on Him. Our family is taking each step of Karley’s treatment one day at a time and trying to stay as positive as possible. I pray that Karley’s journey will help give others hope and restore their faith in the power of God.

For all of those who are fighting their own battles, I pray that you continue to lean on God. At times, it may not seem like the dark moments in life will end, but God will give you rays of light to help you through. Use these rays of light to stay positive and keep your faith. God puts us through these rough patches of life to make us stronger.

Our family is still praying hard for Karley and looking for those small rays of God’s grace everyday.

Until next time,

Hanna

If you feel led to donate to Karley and offer her your support, follow this link

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