Breast Cancer Survivor: I Am Dead to Self and Alive to Christ

Women’s History Month is a month-long celebration of women’s contributions to history, culture and society. As The Recycled Mom, my focus this year is to promote and celebrate moms through my I AM project.

The I AM project features moms whose stories have inspired and blessed other women. My hope is that when moms see another mom’s powerful “I AM” statement it will be an encouragement to them.

Meet Sandy Burkart. I met Sandy when she contacted me a few years ago to coach her oldest daughter in singing and performing for the AMTC (Actors, Models, Talent for Christ) finals in Orlando. Through the next year we got to know each other better and Sandy and I found ourselves talking long after her daughter’s lessons were over. Not only did we have her daughter’s interests in common, we had a common faith in Jesus Christ. Sandy’s I AM statement is such a testament to what God has done in her life that I am going to let her words speak here:

“There are so many titles that make up my identity – Daughter, Sister, Wife, Mom, Business Owner, Accountant, Breast Cancer Survivor, Christian, American. I would never wake up in the morning and wonder if I am a Wife or a Mom or an American. But why do we as Christians question who God has told us we are – Holy, righteous, redeemed, loved with a love that passes understanding, totally accepted in the heavenlies, blameless children of God? I think the answer for me is an inward focus and not a Godward focus. If I am focused on my failures or successes, my ability to obey God or not, my faith or lack thereof then I am trying to work out the Christian life in my own strength with a focus on me and not Him.

Romans 6:6 says “We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose it’s power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin.” It’s all because of what He did and we need to really believe what God says – that our old selves were crucified on the cross. Don’t let your actions that look like your old self keep you from believing that it was crucified – God said it and it’s true. Sanctification is a process and it takes time. As I learn to depend on Him more and focus on who He says I am then I am free to let Him do a good work in me as He sees fit.

One way God saw fit to do a good work in me was with a cancer diagnosis. In August 2016 I had to go back for an ultra sound after my Mammogram showed something. I honestly thought it was nothing, 85% of the time is, but then after the ultrasound I had to do a biopsy. To be honest I was more scared of them sticking a needle in me while I was awake then of the diagnosis.
I dug into the Word to seek peace in God. I was so scared I was crying just before the procedure. But God met me right where I was at. He sent an angel – a nurse who was so kind and compassionate. She told me it would be easier than getting a cavity filled. She turned on Christian music for me. They dimmed the lights for the procedure and she reached out and held my hand and squeezed it. God’s peace washed over me. As we waited days for the results I actually found out I had cancer by googling my ultrasound results I grabbed online. They said I had a Bi-rad 5 (google said that meant a 95-97% chance of cancer) and a few days later they confirmed. My first thought was God loves me and there is NOTHING that can separate me from Him and His love. I had 3 surgeries, 3 months of chemo and 5 weeks of radiation over a 9 month period.

During this time God provided for all of our needs. I had no clue how I could keep my business going but I did. Miraculously I was back to work 4 days after having a bilateral mastectomy and during tax season my parents stayed with us for 3 weeks and helped me around the house and with my accounting work. God had one of my friends help do some bookkeeping work as well. Friends and even strangers from church showed up with meals, friends visited me, sent me cards and helped with my kids.

I met so many incredible men and women during all of it especially living at the Hope Lodge in Baltimore during radiation. Jesus literally mopped the floors at the Hope Lodge (a Hispanic Pastor named Jesus). Who knows what is in store for me next or how long I will be on this earth but I do know that whatever it is it will be used for His good.

Be encouraged ladies – Philippians 1:6b says “that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” How freeing is that? He is the one doing a good work in us!! I still don’t know everything God will use my cancer for but He orchestrated me meeting other women with breast cancer around the Country on Facebook and I am now doing a Bible Study with them. Most will think my cancer was a horrible thing that I had to go through but I say I am blessed beyond belief – I got to know God in a much more intimate and deeper way and I saw him carry me through things that were really hard. Our only responsibility is to depend on Him and as we get to know Him and His character we start to experience His life in ours. My identity? I am a child of the living God – completely loved and accepted. You are too if you know Him, and if you don’t He wants you to know Him.

If anyone would like a Bible Study that really helped me grow in my knowledge of God and prepared me for my cancer diagnosis – please reach out to me and I will send you the ebook – jcknocks@shentel.net”

Sandy has been such an encouragement to many but most of all, I think she was an encouragement to herself. As she grew closer to the Lord throughout this experience, she became stronger in her faith which, by her own testimony, helped her to more fully understand her identity – which is in Christ Jesus.

Shine On!

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