Coping With Cancer: Give and Take

By Margaret Nyman

October 16, 2009

My dad was a conservative Swede. Wanting to minimize risk, he decided to wait a while before marrying. When a firecracker of a young woman came into his life and proposed, he fell to cupid’s arrow and married her. He was 42, and his bride was 13 years his junior with the energy of a young kid. Even as an old lady, Mom’s incredible pace was a marvel. Dad would shake his head and say, “You should have seen her when she was young!”

When Dad grew older, he shared his thoughts on getting married in middle age. One of his comments has always stuck with me: “Since I got such a late start, I never expected to live long enough to see my children graduate from high school.”

But God took care of that, and Dad saw his three kids graduate from high school, college, get married and bring 15 of 17 grandchildren to him. His greatest joy was studying each one and alerting their parents (us) to special character qualities he saw in them. He reminded us of the importance of new life and was a model of exercising patience with children.

“Before you judge them, look at it from their point of view,” he’d say. He relished his role as a grandpa.

Fifteen months ago, Nate and I had the spectacular joy of becoming grandparents, too. Skylar Grace came to our Linnea and Adam through remarkable circumstances. Five months later, Nicholas Carl arrived through Hans and Katy and is now a nine-month-old citizen of both the UK and the US. Eight months after that, Linnea and Adam surprised us with the news that Skylar would have a baby brother in February! And now, during this stressful month of cancer discovery and daily sadness, God has surprised us again (and also Hans and Katy) with news of twins arriving in April! And the frosting on this family cake is that Linnea’s baby is due on her sister-in-law Katy’s birthday, and Katy’s babies are due on her sister-in-law Louisa’s birthday. God’s creativity and gift-giving leaves us speechless!

As Scripture says, the Lord does take away but he also gives. To think of three new babies arriving into our family during this time, a season of adversity and mourning, is nothing but God’s lavish outpouring of blessing. Shall we indeed accept good from him and not accept adversity?

Guest contributor Margaret Nyman chronicles the 42 days after her husband Nate, a patient at Rush University Medical Center, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Read more posts by visiting the Coping With Cancer section or subscribing to the RSS feed. Her personal blog is at

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