O Lord, my God, I cried out to You, and You healed me. — Psalm 30:3. I can’t think of a single family that has not been affected by cancer. And many of those families have been affected by breast cancer.
I’ve been aware of breast cancer since I was a little boy because there was a lady in my church of origin who was affectionately called “Sister Eunice” who testified of being healed from cancer through prayer.
The doctors had diagnosed her with cancer following an examination she had for pain in her breasts. She believed in the power of prayer to heal and the church prayed and believed along with her and she lived a long time, well into her 80s.
Her miracle took place in the 1940s. She had the wherewithal to get examined, which resulted in her diagnosis, but she also went back after her healing to be re-examined by the doctor.
I mention this story because there is a religious culture that believes that physicians are unnecessary and, so, many women do not go for annual examinations. They rely solely on faith healing for physical maladies and believe that the healing of a person can be brought about by religious faith through prayer and/or rituals (like the laying on of hands) that stimulate a divine presence and power toward correcting and even eliminating disease and disability.
Many Christians, for example, take the New Testament as proof that the Lord heals you from all types of diseases, and He does, but, at least, do what Sister Eunice did and get the examination. Awareness and education about breast cancer will eventually lead to the cure for breast cancer. And simultaneously we pray for the cure.
In 1982, Susan G, Komen lay in bed dying of breast cancer. Her sister, Nancy Brinker, promised that she would do everything in her power to end breast cancer. In 1982, that promise became reality with the establishment of “Susan G. Komen for the Cure.” And since that organization was founded it has donated more than $1 billion toward breast cancer research and treatment.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which is an annual campaign to increase awareness of the disease. While most people are aware of breast cancer, many forget to take the steps to have a plan to detect the disease in its early stages and encourage others to do so.
Awareness and education about breast cancer — which affects men as well as women — is essential. About one in eight U.S. women — just under 12 percent — will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. Last year, an estimated 230,480 new cases of invasive breast cancer were expected to be diagnosed in women in the U.S., along with 57,650 new cases of non-invasive or in situ breast cancer.
About 39,520 women in the U.S. were expected to die in 2011 from breast cancer, though death rates have been decreasing since 1990, especially in women under age 50. These decreases are thought to be the result of treatment advances, earlier detection through screening and increased awareness. Last year, there were more than 2.6 million breast cancer survivors in the U.S.
There are four things that all women can do to help with the cure of breast cancer, which I call the four P’s. First, perform self-examinations regularly. Second, practice getting regular examinations by your physician. Third, participate in discussions online, in small groups or at seminars to empower yourself and other women about developments in cancer research. Then, finally, pray for the cure.
If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with breast cancer and receiving treatment, this prayer written by Naomi Levy is wonderful: “May God heal me, body and soul. May my pain cease, May my strength increase, May my fears be released, May blessings, love, and joy surround me. Amen.”
*Walter T. Richardson is pastor-emeritus of Sweet Home Missionary Baptist Church in South Miami-Dade County and chairman of the Miami-Dade Community Relations Board. He may be contacted at wtrichardson@Bellsouth.net