My name is Amanda Pipella, and I’m a proud breast cancer survivor.
I was fifty-one when I was told that I had stage II lobular breast cancer. With no prior breast cancer history in our family it came as a tremendous shock. At first I felt as if I’d been hit by a bus. I was dazed, unsteady, afraid. And terribly, terribly sad. I found myself questioning my Creator God as to ‘why?’ more times than I care to admit. Hadn’t I lived for him? Served him and his people? Eaten well and exercised regularly? Hadn’t I been through enough challenges already? All these questions filled my heart and mind.
My husband Barry and I had gone through many ‘dangers, toils and snares’ by God’s grace over the thirty-odd years we’d been married, but in the winter of 2013 that one small word forever changed our lives. We have been passionate followers of Christ for many decades, and we fellowship regularly with our church family at our local Baptist church, New Peninsula Baptist, which is on the Mornington Peninsula, seventy kilometres south of Melbourne.
If we could survive a military coup in Bangkok, a tsunami threat in Hawaii, devastating financial and business losses, the sorrow of losing three much-wanted pregnancies and many more ups and downs over the years, surely we could survive cancer!
Surely, I could survive cancer! But nothing quite prepares you for becoming a Pink Lady, and nothing compares to the moment you are told ‘We have found cancer’ either.
As a spirit-filled believer I knew I had to pull out all the resources of years of faithfully living under the banner of God’s love to move through my mapped-out year with grace, confidence and purpose. Romans 8:28 tells us that ‘in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.’
How would I turn my sorrow into joy, my mourning into laughter? How would this diagnosis work for good? How would I give honour and glory to my Lord while I was undergoing treatments that ravaged my body? Six rounds of chemo, eight surgeries (amounting to twenty-five hours, including a twelve-hour day), five weeks of daily radiation, and more needles and procedures than I can remember— how would my test become my testimony?
From the day I was told I had cancer, I was determined to praise God no matter what the outcome might be. So I began to write down my inner thoughts and prayers to remind myself to keep my heart and mind soft towards God and others in the hardest of times. I had always kept a journal, so writing my cancer story down was a natural thing to do, and through it I could share the truth of what a faith-filled believer might think and feel when faced with fighting for her life. What faith actually looks like in the darkest of seasons.
I always believed that God was my healer, and I’d had the privilege of praying for healing for many others over the years, but this time it was me on the receiving end of those many faith-filled prayers. It was a wonderfully strange place to be and an honour. The 23rd Psalm became my go-to scripture. I often pictured myself as God’s little lamb, being carried, fed, nurtured, protected and eventually taken to cancer-free pastures. And I still do.
Music, in the form of praise and worship, became my warm blanket, wrapping me up in the moment to comfort and soothe my weary soul. The Melbourne Christian radio station 89.9 LightFM became my constant friend, as did Hillsong and Planetshakers worship (both churches I had attended over the years). I often listened to them day and night, to keep a sweet and lifted spirit.
Barry, who was by then at the top of his game in the corporate world, shifted everything to ensure that he could and would be there for all my appointments, chemo treatments and hospital stays. He was with me at every critical moment, literally holding my hand. When we shared our vows all those years ago, promising to love each other ‘in sickness and in health’, we could never have imagined how meaningful those words would be. Our love and commitment strengthened in ways we could never have imagined. In a strange way, my cancer journey gifted our marriage with a fresh perspective and deeper love and appreciation of each other as nothing else could.
My story kept growing; my journals filled up. I wrote come rain, hail or shine, cheered on by Barry and my friend Coral Vass, an author. Often I was crying as I wrote. Every story, event, grief and victory went into my journals that year. I wanted to record the truth just as it happened—losing my hair, undergoing treatment, finding support, figuring out whom I was post-cancer—with no holds barred. Maybe down the track my story would encourage and inspire someone else who, like me, felt desperately alone in their thoughts and feelings during their unwanted cancer journey. What is so special to me now is that I never set out to write a book—it just unfolded.
Writing From Cancer to Cancan took the same amount of time as my journey through cancer. Two years. Many times I wanted to give up, but then I would remember that my story was in God’s heart and mind long before mine and I would continue on. Writing it became part of my healing.
From Cancer to Cancan is raw and real and truthful. It is my way of turning what was so challenging and traumatic into something wonderful and worthwhile. I didn’t want cancer to have the last word! Inside its pages, you will walk with me both on my cancer journey and on my journey of faith. God is in control, and he uses the medical world in truly incredible ways to complete his work. God is the master builder of our lives, and his plans are higher than ours.
I am blessed that Tim Costello, CEO of World Vision, wrote a foreword to my book. And I am thrilled to the core when I receive feedback from a fellow Pink Lady who has read it and feels that it is her story too. I hope it validates her suffering and gives her story a voice also. What an honour and a privilege to be a conduit of truth and grace, and to shed light on a subject that most of us know little about.
Barry and I are passionate about helping find a cure for breast cancer in our lifetimes. We will donate 10% of every book and ebook sold to the Breast Cancer Network Australia. The print book is available nationally at Koorong bookstores and the ebook can be found on Amazon and my website.
Loving more deeply, sharing more passionately, and praising God with my whole being for the gift of each new day, has become my new assignment. I am excited to offer you my story, and pray that you will be encouraged, blessed and inspired as you journey with me From Cancer to Cancan. And through it all, may the Bible verse that sustained me ring out loud and clear: ‘I can do all this through him who gives me strength.’ (Philippians 4:13)
We have 6 copies of “From Cancer to Can-Can to give away. Complete the form below to register your interest.