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“On the 23rd April 2018 my husband Ryan and I sat across from this lovely Dr and he delivered the devastating news that I had breast cancer. I was 33 years old and I had a daughter who was not yet 19 months. My first reaction was to apologise to my husband for the ‘trouble’ I had caused us. Thankfully from the get go God gave me what I needed because that very person I apologised to promptly turned around and reminded me that “God’s got this.” Without sounding insensitive, he told me something that would resonate with me more at the end of my journey - "I believe that we are going to look back on this season as the best season of our lives, difficult, but best. God is going to show us all his goodness.” And with those words off we went into the unknown. 

The first few weeks were incredibly emotional and surreal but we have been blessed with a beautiful family and family in Christ, Cornerstone. We had so many people praying for us and encouraging us from the start and they did not stop! Community is one of the most important aspects of life especially in seasons of our lives when we feel like we cannot carry on. I learnt the hard way that isolation is not a good thing and that reaching out when you felt like you are sinking is the best thing you can do. Having this community of God-fearing people praying for us, encourage us, providing a meal for us when it was the last thought on our minds, was the strength we needed to get up and meet the next day. And we will forever be thankful to Our Father for blessing us with this amazing family and church.

Prayer. Nothing is more powerful. I don’t count myself amongst the greatest prayers but God doesn’t say you have to be. He hears every prayer. Whether it be shouted out for a hall to hear or a silent inner plea for help, He hears. We held onto this life line from the start and it sustained us. Our earlier prayers were mostly devoted to our beautiful Lucy Mae and He answered. He calmed her happy soul, she never wavered, never changed and miraculously took to a bottle for a baby that refused up until that point. As a mother I don’t think any amount of prayer will ever be enough to thank God for keeping our girl safely in His love. I am often quick to forget that although I love her more than anything that God still loves her immeasurably more. He gave her this tough character for such a time as this. He knew what she needed more than I did, He knows all her days to come and He has given her all that she needs.

Prayer was also devoted to healing and although we prayed for miraculous healing, I felt deeply in my heart that this was not going to be part of my story. Not that I didn’t believe but I felt at peace with the fact. I am reading a book titled ‘When God meets cancer’ based on the real-life journeys of different people. In it is a gentleman by the name of Guy who had lost his beloved wife to cancer years before and he had been diagnosed with incurable prostrate cancer. I won’t spoil the ending but he said something in this book that really hit home with me. He said something along the lines that he wasn’t angry with God that he got cancer because it’s in the darkness that he met Him. Oh yes I met God time and time again! Up the mountain He pulled me and in the darkness He was my light.  I was never mad with God and I never once said God why have you given me cancer? I was comforted by the fact that this trial would only make me love Him more.

I had eight sessions of chemo, surgery that was more challenging than we had initially anticipated and radiation. My amazing surgeon who has been a true blessing said that he was confident that I was cancer free. Why did I have this small fear that is was still lurking? I had my first check up after almost six months. The standard MRI, mammogram and ultrasound. Something was showing up in the ultrasound so a biopsy was needed. Biopsy came back inconclusive so now as you can imagine I was panicking. I now needed a full body PET CT scan. I was undone. I was definitely not myself the first three days of receiving this news. I would take Lucy to nursery and lie on the couch for hours watching TV and go fetch her. I was impatient, I was panicked, I was not sleeping and I felt deflated. Until one morning I cried so much that I got down on my knees and bowed my head and begged God to take it away. Simple words. I cried until I couldn’t cry anymore and then got up feeling lighter. I went into my scan feeling calm and at peace knowing that everything will be alright. Two days later my blessing of a surgeon sent me a voice note (which I have listened to a hundred times) telling me, “everything is great.” His exact words. Words that came out of his mouth but from my loving Father.

Praise the Lord, He is good.

I recently attended Cornerstone’s first ever Women’s Conference, Beauty for Ashes. I’ve tried to find the right words to describe this event and the best way to say it is that it was this beautiful bow that has been perfectly made and placed on top of the most wonderfully wrapped gift. Because that very week God gifted me with healing.  After almost a year to the day I was given the news that I am cancer free. Needless to say, after that news the Women’s Conference was finishing my week on a high!

When I stood at the conference during worship I sang as loud as my (getting over sickness) voice could go and I thanked Him with all that I am for His goodness in my life. I thought if I could wave streamers and set balloons into the sky with fireworks going off in the background I would. I cried before Him because of His overwhelming love in my life and my family’s life. And I proclaimed with all that I am that GOD IS GOOD.”

ALEXIS – CLAIRE STURGEON

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