Patty shared darkest moments in cancer fight
For Patty Fischer, this Christmas in particular will be a time of great joy and thankfulness. Told she had cancer a year ago, she's watched God heal her body of the disease.
“From where I was in my cancer journey last year at this time, there was good reason to expect that I would not be alive to celebrate this Christmas,” she said. “The odds were against me, but God had other plans.
“Either way, by life or by death, I was determined to give God praise and to trust Him for His ultimate decision in my life, because even in death I have my hope in Christ.
“As my six-year-old granddaughter Maggie states so well, ‘Sometimes God says yes to our prayers, sometimes He says no, and sometimes He says wait.' We as a family rejoice that God said yes this time and allowed me another Christmas to celebrate the birth of His Son, my Saviour, Jesus Christ.”
Mrs Fischer started feeling that something “wasn't right” with her body in October of last year when she began suffering from terrible indigestion.
The 63-year-old, whose husband Robert is the senior pastor of the Evangelical Church of Bermuda, decided to get checked out by a doctor.
“They did some testing and the ultrasound came back confirming I had ovarian cancer,” she said. “The doctors didn't know how serious the cancer was until they got the results back from some further blood tests. They confirmed it was stage 3B, which is advanced. With ovarian cancer, anything beyond stage one is likely to be fatal.”
At Moffitt Cancer Centre in Tampa, Florida, doctors found two tumours — one measuring 18 centimetres and the other 11 centimetres — pressing on her stomach, blocking the acids needed for proper digestion.
They predicted she would only survive six months. Mrs Fisher went through seven chemotherapy treatments before doctors felt confident enough to remove the masses.
“Each time I had chemo, we would have to wait three weeks in between,” Mrs Fischer said. “Twenty-one weeks passed with that and then they opted to try the surgery, which took another six weeks for me to recover from.”
After the initial shock of the sudden illness — which brought many questions for God — Mr and Mrs Fischer began praying for peace.
“We had those ‘why' moments of course, but what was powerful for me through this experience was when we decided at the beginning we wanted God's will to be done,” she said. “I had to rely on the truths I knew about God and His word and put my faith in that, trust His promises and rely on His presence to guide me through the process.”
Believing that the Lord would walk with her — no matter what the outcome — helped to keep fears and worries at bay.
Then on March 19, Mrs Fischer experienced what she believes was a miracle from God.
“From what I've been told, advanced stage ovarian cancer can spread — that's what makes it so dangerous and the chances of survival so slim,” she told Religion. “It's one of the most deadly types of cancer.
“The doctors decided to go ahead with the surgery, a full hysterectomy, to remove all the cancer from my body.
“Before the procedure, we asked God to let the doctors see His glory, whether that be through my life or death.
“When the doctor opened me up the cancer was completely contained in the two tumours. They looked everywhere in my body and couldn't find any other sign of cancer.
“The oncologist said in all his years he had never seen that happen.
“They were able to completely remove the tumours and everything else came up as benign. I remember him saying, ‘You are now cancer-free'. We were just so off-the-wall excited.”
Mrs Fischer hoped her story would serve as a testimony to inspire others in their faith.
She started blogging about her health scare through a Facebook page, Prayers and Praises for Patty Fischer.
The platform also served as an encouragement to her in her darkest moments, as friends and family posted their prayers, favourite songs, scriptures and uplifting messages for her to read.
“People were so wonderful in their responses to me,” Mrs Fischer said. “Even though it was a challenging time, I wanted people to see God in the midst of that for who He is — a kind and excellent Father.
“He reveals His true character through His word and we have to cling to that hope when the tough times come.
“When we go through something like this and are truly at the end of ourselves, that's when you find that He is there, present with you through that process.
“It's such an intimate thing and nourishing to one's faith to have a relationship with Him in all situations.”