Joni Eareckson Tada says she’s nearly finished with radiation treatment following her cancer diagnosis and shared the powerful Bible verse that's been sustaining her as she battles the disease.
“When the radiation regimen began early last month on my chest wall, I asked my radiologist how I could encourage healing in my lungs,” the popular evangelical speaker and advocate for people with disabilities wrote on her website.
Tada said her doctor told her to breathe deeply, drink lots of water, and keep her cardiovascular rate up through exercise. But as a quadriplegic, Tada said it’s impossible for her to do aerobics, hop on a treadmill, or take a 2-mile walk.
“But what I can do is have [my husband] Ken affix my hands to an arm exercise-cycle with athletic wrap, and let me go at it — after about five minutes, my heart’s pumping hard. And that means a better chance for my damaged lungs to heal,” she said.
“Yes, I’m ‘feeling the burn,’ and I’ve got 1 Corinthians 9:25 to inspire me,” she continued. “‘All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize.’”
Tada said that for her, the eternal prize is to “honor Christ as best I can through this ordeal.”
She quoted what theologian John Piper once said about his own cancer-battle: “Cancer doesn’t win if we die; it only wins if we fail to cherish Jesus Christ.”
“Amen to that!’ she exclaimed. “So thank you for cheering me on with your prayers. I’m about three-quarters of the way through radiation, asking God to zap any and all cancer cells within my chest wall.”
Eight years ago, Tada was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer and underwent a mastectomy and chemotherapy treatment. In 2015, she was declared cancer-free.
But in November, the best-selling author underwent tests on a small nodule that had developed over the site of her mastectomy. After biopsies, doctors discovered a small cancerous tumor within the nodule.
“When I received the unexpected news of cancer from my oncological surgeon, I relaxed and smiled, knowing that my sovereign God loves me dearly and holds me tightly in His hands,” Tada said at the time. “What good is it if we only trust the Lord when we understand His ways? That only guarantees a life filled with doubts.”
In an interview in 2012 with The Christian Post, Ken and Joni Tada said that in some ways cancer had actually strengthened their marriage.
“The cancer journey is an interesting journey for both Joni and I because it was the cancer journey that reignited our marriage and our love for each other. Basically, when I — when we first discovered the deformity and not knowing what it was, set up the mammogram, the one thing that we learned in that early journey of cancer was it's a hurry-up-and-wait situation. We didn't know how bad this was. We didn't even know it was cancer because no one would use the 'C' word,” Ken Tada told CP at the time.
“They would just say we need to take this next test and it wasn't until several weeks after Joni's actual surgery that we discovered yes, it was cancer and yes, it was a stage three cancer because of the size of the tumor,” he added.
“And so the cancer journey, during that time everything stopped, we got a chance to talk. We hadn't ever talked before, and the two of us grew closer together during that time — not closer just with each other but also closer to Jesus.”