Special Post: Blessings through Cancer in Honor of Dixie Pritchett
From Troy and Julie Pritchett and Micah and Elizabeth Pritchett (Dixie’s sons and daughters-in-law):
Visitation Tuesday, July 14th , 6:00-8:00 PM
Brindle Mountain Chapel
3552 Highway 231
Lacey’s Spring, AL 35754
Funeral Wednesday, July 15th , 2:00 PM
New Canaan Baptist Church
2204 Union Hill Road
Somerville, AL 35670
To honor Dixie’s life and her legacy of faith that will continue to bless many, OCOAH is re-posting her story today:
Blessings through Cancer
One spring Sunday morning in 2009 our pastor preached that God is always with us during trials, just as He was with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace. That evening he spoke of the faith of the four men who brought their paralytic friend to Jesus by letting him down through the roof. I prayed Lord, is my faith enough to bring my brother to You? I asked the Lord to grow my faith. My brother Phillip and I attended church every Sunday with our family as we grew up on the farm. We made professions of faith and were baptized, but he had hardly darkened the door of a church in 40 years.
The following day I had a routine mammogram. A few days later I was called back for more tests. When they told me my doctor wanted to see me right away, I knew instantly that it wasn’t good. I prayed Thank you, Lord, that You and I together can do this in a way that will glorify You. Jesus wanted so much to glorify the Father. Should I want less? My prayer was that whatever happened God would be glorified.
Following a lumpectomy and more tests, the cancer was determined to be stage four. It would be treated aggressively with chemotherapy and radiation.
My first appointment with the oncologist was on our 43rd wedding anniversary. But my husband Troy and I resolved that this day was for celebrating our wonderful, strong love and would not be hampered by the serious words of a doctor.
But a few days later I was overwhelmed with fears and questions. What if I am claustrophobic and can’t tolerate the PET scan? What if after months of tests, surgery, chemo and radiation I have aged 10 years? What if my body can’t endure chemotherapy? I will be taking the strongest chemo drug. Lord, all these questions with no answers. Where is the quiet peace You blessed me with at the beginning? Lord, make me way stronger than I am. If cancer is to be my way of escape from this life without having Alzheimer’s disease, give me and my family grace for that. If that is the case, should I fight the cancer? My mother was a victim of Alzheimer’s disease for nearly 20 years. All of us were victims of her disease as we cared for her and watched her deteriorate. I did not want this for my family and I had prayed I would not have Alzheimer’s disease.
I was desperate for a word from God so at 12:05 A.M. I turned to the devotion for the new day. I could see the scripture was about obeying when God calls us to a ministry or task. This didn’t seem like the passage God would have me read, but I had asked for His direction and this is where I found myself, so I half-heartedly began reading Isaiah six. But verse eight grabbed my attention. “Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, ‘Whom shall I send and who will go for Us?’ Then I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!’”
God was calling me to a task, the task of fighting cancer. It seemed the Lord was saying, “You fight the cancer, I will take care of the Alzheimer’s disease and your family.” I felt such a strong calling on my life to fight cancer, as strong as I had ever felt the Lord lead me to do anything. Lord, help me fight this battle with cancer in a way that glorifies You!” and I read II Chronicles 20:15 “…Do not fear or be dismayed…the battle is not yours but God’s.” Lord, help me and my family do this well.
This calling compelled me to carefully follow the doctor’s instructions such as eating healthy foods and drinking plenty of water. It gave me a task, a responsibility—not to endure the treatments but to embrace them, to help them! This was a profound event in my life. I was seeking God for answers and peace, which He graciously granted, even as He called me to a task. And He made me incredibly aware of His strong, gentle presence in a way I had not known before!
This calling also released me from feeling responsible for my brother’s spiritual condition. I had witnessed to Phillip a few times over the years and I wrote Bible verses in his birthday cards. I prayed more fervently after he was diagnosed with mesothelioma a year earlier. I asked God to give Philip faith to come to Him.
The times I didn’t feel well enough to attend church, Troy would say, “Many people asked about you and said they are praying for you.” It was incredible the way God blessed us through the prayers and ministry of others, a perfect example of Romans 15:1. “Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength.”
When I received my first chemotherapy, it was less than the prescribed amount because my platelets were only 68,000, which was about normal for me, but below the minimum of 160,000.
My platelets dropped to 23,000 and my white count to one. The nurse gave solemn warning that if there was not a substantial increase in these numbers I would not be able to receive the second treatment on schedule. Lord, I cried, this feels fatal. What if I am not able to take chemotherapy? I searched the scripture for a word from God and discovered Isaiah 6:8 again! The Lord brought me back to the verse He showed me a month earlier. I prayed, Lord, I will fight cancer. Help Troy and me to not just fight, but fight to win!
The following week my platelets were 112,000 and my white count was 7.5! I did receive chemo as scheduled! I asked the doctor if it was normal for such an increase so quickly. He shook his head and said, “No. I have no explanation medically for your numbers going up that much.” When I told him many people had prayed for good numbers, he smiled and said, “Oh, that’s why.” It was a miracle. God did it!
When we visited Phillip Thanksgiving he told us his doctor had told him he needed hospice care. “You know I have never been a very religious person,” he said. I responded to his doubts and fears and read from Romans 10. When I asked if he wanted to accept Christ, he did. Other family members also prayed to receive Christ!
Phillip told me he had a confession to make. “You know those devotionals you have been sending me? I threw all of them away.” It didn’t matter that he threw them away. God used them anyway! Never give up on your loved ones! Our attempts at witnessing that seem to have no effect and are even thrown in the trash can be used by God.
It was such a joy to talk with him and hear how he and his wife were enjoying the Bible, and were more relaxed. Less than three weeks later Phillip went home to be with the Lord. Praise God, I will see him again! Cancer is a scary word but even in the midst of terrible things, God is doing great things. He is still working. He is still blessing.
God never leaves us alone in the fire, just like our pastor said that Sunday morning. He continues to strengthen my faith and He gave my brother faith to accept Him. I finished the chemotherapy and radiation, and the cancer went into remission. As a six-year breast cancer survivor I have experienced set-backs, but the victories are always joyfully celebrated with our still-praying family, friends and church family!