BALD (Blessed Abundantly, Led Divinely)

By Jennifer Soza

/files/chcc images 2 - about us/Unfolding/Ellen_Edman.jpgHaving a bad hair day? Then here’s some good news for you! A bad hair day is actually a blessing … it means you have hair! Ellen Edman, had a recent experience with going bald and thought she would never be the same. She was right.  Ellen’s journey with breast cancer changed her hair, her health, and her body. It also changed her heart and her life—for good!

Ellen’s journey began in a garden. The act of gardening includes evaluating things, removing unwanted and threatening things, and planting new things. It is a chore we endure, at times with love and at times with reluctance, because we desire the result – a beautiful and healthy garden.  As Ellen worked outside with her husband on that pleasant Saturday afternoon, she felt what she describes as a “tap on her shoulder” and something telling her to go in and do a breast exam. Initially she ignored the strange prompt but when the tap felt stronger and the call became louder, she went inside to do a self-exam. Ellen discovered a hard lump.

She nearly fell over in fear and disbelief, rechecking herself repeatedly in hopes that she had made a mistake. The doctor appointments quickly began, and in just over a week Ellen’s fears were confirmed: she had breast cancer. The diagnosis unleashed many questions and concerns. Anxiety arose. How would she cope with the needle phobia she’d had since childhood or endure the treatments when she is a self-proclaimed “chicken” of all things invasive and hospital-oriented? How would she survive this disease? Ellen questioned the future of life as she knew it – including her health, the job she loved, and, yes, even her hair. The unknown reality of Ellen’s condition left her feeling overwhelmed and scared.

Like most cancer patients, Ellen was headed down a dark road she neither chose nor expected. Nor did she expect that God would use this experience to reveal Himself and His love for her every step of the way. She often prayed that God would use her to shine brightly for Him. Originally she wondered how God could possibly make her useful under these conditions. What she learned was that God always has a plan!

For the first time, Ellen began to journal, frequently noting how good and faithful God had been to her. From the beginning she took comfort in the reassurance and prayers of her women’s Bible study group. She saw her anxieties ease in the dark of her first MRI as she repeatedly recited the verse, “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).  She was constantly blessed with the best of care. Amazingly a Christian oncologist so busy that he wasn’t even taking new patients took Ellen. And then God gave her Cindy, her “cancer companion.” One morning Ellen was sitting in a Starbucks writing a tribute to Cindy for her precious friendship when the song Stand By Me played in the background. With the lyrics of the song God gave Ellen yet another confirmation of His tender care for her.

When the night has come
and the land is dark
And the moon is the only
light we see,
No, I won’t be afraid,
oh, I won’t be afraid
Just as long as you stand,
stand by me,
If the sky that we look upon
should tumble and fall
 Or the mountain should
crumble to the sea,
I won’t cry, no, I won’t
shed a tear
Just as long as you stand by me.

The tears ran down her face as she recognized how divinely blessed she was in that moment. Ellen says, “God truly gives abundantly more than we could ever imagine.” From day one He walked her down that broken road; the tap on the shoulder, the wise counsel for an immediate self-exam, the friends, doctors, and all the songs and Bible verses that gave her perfect comfort at the perfect time. Several weeks after Ellen’s diagnosis, an internal question piqued her interest: “What was the daily devotional I read on that morning of September 26th? I went back to my book and found yet another God moment. I had highlighted, ‘Whatever you are doing, do it heartily to the Lord … for it is then that God will tap you on the shoulder and give you tasks that are even more significant for the kingdom.’ ”

What started out as a frightening journey became a blessing because Ellen allowed God to be a part of her struggles. His plan was becoming evident to Ellen. He didn’t wish for her to merely limp along, but rather to walk confidently with purpose, even through the challenges in life. He provided everything she needed as she trusted in Him. God has put on her heart a compassion and love for other women going through cancer. She knows firsthand the difference a “cancer companion” and support group can make in the life of a woman who’s facing the unknown. Ellen hopes to be a shining light in their lives. Ellen and her husband came up with an acronym for all those who share this struggle—BALD: Blessed Abundantly, Led Divinely! No words could more perfectly describe the way Ellen feels throughout her breast cancer journey.