“How many months have you been in remission?” Bill, my new psychologist asked.
“And how does that make you feel?”
“Good, I guess,” I pulled at the hem of my shirt. “But, I can’t shake
the thought that…it’ll return. I just wanna know…am I cured or not?” My chin trembled and I grabbed a tissue off his side table to dab my nose. “You’d think going through the treatment’s the worse part. It’s not. I mean, it is…but so is that doubt in the back of my mind. That lingering thought that I’m going to die. Sorry.”
“Why are you apologizing?”
“I don’t know, I guess because I’m complaining, speaking my fears.”
“And do you think someone in your condition has the right to complain?”
“What other thoughts or fears do you have?”
“I don’t know,” I crossed my arms.
“What do you hear yourself say?”
My eyes shifted to the ceiling, then around his room. “What do you mean?”
“What else do you tell yourself?”
I hated this. I knew what he meant. “I’m pale, scared, bald, ugly…dumb.
People don’t take me seriously because I look young or say things the
“Um…” I played with my dampened tissue. “I’m unorganized, don’t do
enough at home. I’m tired and lazy. The house is a mess. I make
mistakes. My oncologist told me I’d have chemo brain. I didn’t really
know what he meant. Now it’s clear. I forget things, and repeat
“And this makes you feel dumb?”
“Everything makes me feel dumb. I made mistakes at work and almost
got fired years ago. I’m a horrible writer. I freeze up when writing a
thank you note. Since treatment, it’s gotten worse. I forget dates,
special events, appointments. The other day I pulled out of my
driveway and turned a corner. Madison’s car seat tilted over. I forgot
to buckle my own child in.” I let out a breath. “Who does that? It’s
kind of funny now, but I felt foolish at the time—especially thinking
what could have happened if we were in an accident.”
“Why do you beat yourself up?”
“What do you mean?”
“Why do you tell yourself negative things? Do you think other people
make mistakes, like your boss or your husband or your neighbor?”
“I guess. But my mistakes are simple. Things average people wouldn’t do.”
“I see.” He paused. “I am going to disagree. God says you are
beautifully and wonderfully made. And if it makes you feel any better, even Moses felt inept.”
He wrote something on his pad.
“That’s a device of the Enemy, you know? To slip that wedge of doubt into our minds, He accuses us of being worthless, that no one would want to listen to us or use us. You should not think you are the only one. Look how much Moses accomplished, even with a speech impediment and a debilitating fear to confront others.”
He took out a clean sheet of paper and started writing.
“We are going to change your view of yourself. First, tell yourself
‘Stop’ every time a negative thought enters your head. You have a
broken record. Each minor mistake you make your record is there to
remind you. Are you willing to work on a few things?”
I hugged my stomach. “Yes, sir.”
“Great. We will start with daily affirmations. Each morning you will
repeat these things.” He wrote a few more sentences and handed me the
sheet. “Read them out loud, please.”
“I am perfectly happy to be me, for me.”
“I am good enough just as I am, for me.”
“I love and approve of myself, for me.”
“I am a competent worker, for me.” I put the paper in my lap and turned my head.
“Why did you stop?”
“Because it’s hard to read something you don’t believe.”
“Please, keep going.”
“I am a creative, prolific writer, for me.” I sighed.
“I am intelligent, for me.”
“I am organized, for me.”
“I am healed and whole, for me,” my voice broke. I dropped my head and
wiped the sudden tears.
“Why are you crying?”
“It’s hard—I don’t feel these things. I’ve never told anyone my fears
before. It’s embarrassing.”
“There is no need to be embarrassed. I am here to help. But the only
way I can is if you repeat these affirmations for six months.”
“Yes. Every morning read these five times each while looking at
yourself in the mirror.”
“I know. It seems excessive. Trust me. This is how we change that
broken record. The first week will be difficult. You’ll feel foolish, maybe even laugh as you say it. That’s okay.” He leaned forward on his desk. “Next, I want you to get in the habit of journaling your thoughts daily. Write whatever comes to mind. If it is destructive or private, you can rip out the page or shred it. What is important is to get these feelings out.” He paused. “Then, read your Bible. Even if it’s only one verse. Start somewhere.” He smiled. “Come back and see me in two weeks and tell me how you are feeling. Sound
I nodded, never knowing I’d only need one more appointment with this
man…that what he was saying was really true: I wasn’t the only person
battling mental bombardment and I just needed to retrain my mind, and
replace my thoughts with living words.
“Before you leave, I want to you to pick out of the treasure box.” He pointed to a gold container on the table beside me. “These slips of paper are God’s promises for you. His Word was written to guide us.”
I pulled out a verse. “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”
“Perfect. He is the Strength-Giver, isn’t He?”
I struggled with whether or not to include this chapter in the book. In the end, it was cut, but there was still a valuable lesson that I needed to remember. I can’t do life alone; not on my own strength, and I certainly needed to rewire my negative thoughts. Maybe that’s why God tells us to “strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up,” (Hebrews 12:1).
The sin (fear) that entangled my mind was a very human reaction. I obsessed and worried my days away. Looking back on this chapter of my life, I wish I could whisper in this young girl’s ear, “Life gets better. I promise. God will use this pain to reach others.” But at the time, I certainly didn’t see any hope.
Praise God for His word, and the ability to rewire negative thoughts with positive ones, and for sending people into my life to speak encouragement when I was so fearful of opening up.