Coping With Cancer: We’ve Been Prepared

By Margaret Nyman

October 4, 2009

Tonight as our daughter Linnea and I walked the dog around the block, we decided to see if there were ways God had prepared our family for the cancer crisis we’re now experiencing. Listed below are our seven children, each one brought close to their ailing father by a sudden change of circumstances:

Nelson (36): He felt strongly he ought to sell his Nashville landscaping business last June. When the season was at its peak, he prayed for a buyer. A friend of a friend who had a landscaping business mentioned he’d like to expand. Word got back to Nelson and within a week they’d struck a deal. When the news of pancreatic cancer came, Nelson was free to drive home, as he said, “For the duration.”

Lars (34): He’s been based in California since first becoming a college student in L.A. 15 years ago. Recently, his boss offered him a job transfer from San Diego to the Chicago area. He was weighing the decision when the news of his father’s cancer arrived. He took the new position and within 72 hours was moving to Illinois, 90 miles from us instead of 2000.

Linnea (32): Having taught high school English in Ocala, Fla., since she and Adam married six years ago, her job was tenured and secure. After taking a year’s leave of absence when Skylar was born last year, she had to return to teaching this fall or lose tenure. She signed the contract to begin in August. In the weeks between signing and starting, she learned she was pregnant with baby #2 and let her job go. When the cancer news arrived, she was free to come to Michigan to stay indefinitely.

Klaus (28): He was based in Nashville, working in the volatile music business. When his assignment came to a sudden end in early September, he wasn’t sure what was next. He found a sales position in Chicago, two hours from us rather than eight.

Hans (27): He and his British wife Katy live with baby Nicholas in England. Although he has been aching to come home to be near his dad, he’s been blocked by passport and visa complications. This story is too spectacular to squeeze into one paragraph so will be the subject of the next blog.

Louisa (21): She lived through two very difficult years after high school, then chose to spend six months out of the country on a mission trip. She returned a changed girl, strengthened to bear what was about to rock her world, a father with terminal cancer.

Birgitta (19): She visited Nashville hoping to rent an apartment, take a job and sing/write songs in her off hours. But Louisa persuaded her to be her Chicago roommate. They rented an apartment in one of their uncle’s buildings, got jobs within walking distance, and are located one hour from our Michigan home.

As Linnea and I walked tonight, we ran out of block before we ran out of blessings. Only God could have plucked all seven of our children from jobs and homes scattered far and wide and brought them together exactly ahead of our cancer news. But here we are, weathering the storm, all in one place, all at the same time.

Guest contributor Margaret Nyman takes us step by step through the 42 days after her husband Nate, a patient at Rush University Medical Center, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Follow her posts by subscribing to the Coping With Cancer RSS feed. Nyman’s personal blog is at

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