Janelle's Blog

I Am Second

Many people have asked me to share the story of how my faith in God helped me face breast cancer as a young woman 30 years ago. That faith has become the sustaining strength of my life.

Over the years, when something bad happened to me, instead of dwelling on it, I have always tried to optimistically look forward. Somehow, taking only the positive memories with me helped make the journey easier. That was difficult to do with breast cancer. It carried the weight of fear, uncertainty, and change in my life forever. At times I didn’t know how to move forward, but I had to keep going since I was a wife and mother of three young sons, ages 13, 10 and 3. Responsibilities and my love for my family were foremost. During that time I came to understand God’s love for me.

When I returned home from the hospital after having a mastectomy, I was getting dressed one morning and caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. It was as though I came face to face with the reality of the scar that now landscaped my body. I loathed the scar because it symbolized the interruption and destruction that had come to my life.

That morning I stopped and stared down the scar as though to say, “One of us will win today.”

I dropped my head and softly cried, “Lord, please help me see myself as you see me.” That’s it. That is all I said. At that exact moment I felt a warmth come over me from the top of my head all the way down to my feet, as though a cloud of peace had settled over me. It was then that I knew how much God loved me. He opened my eyes to see myself as He saw me—not as a broken and marred body, but as His beautiful child.

I looked at my hands and held them out saying, “Thank you, God, that I have two hands to work for you. I have two feet to go where you want me to go. I have a mouth to speak for you.” At that moment gratitude overtook me and erased the scar on my heart.

To truly live life beyond breast cancer, you have to recognize rare moments in life when you allow others to catch a glimpse inside your soul. For many years I kept my personal life to myself. Because I care about you who are reading my blog and want you to understand what brought me to this place in life as CEO of National Breast Cancer Foundation, I share my story today, best told in the video I Am Second.

Take a look inside my heart and you will find that I Am Second.

Thought for Today:

Maybe the atheist cannot find God for the same reason a thief cannot find a policeman.” Author Unknown

Live Life,


Let’s Talk: How have you found God in your darkest hour?

Reader's Comments

7 Responses to I Am Second
  1. fielding
    October 21, 2010 | 5:26 pm

    thankyou for youre story may god bless

  2. Emily
    November 14, 2010 | 5:11 pm

    My mom was diagnosed not too long ago…I will definitely be sharing your story with her. 🙂

  3. Suzanne
    December 28, 2010 | 5:29 pm

    I especially love your thought for the day… it’s so true! I know “athiests” that seem to be more scared of God and more angry with Him than they know. I’ve been there, and it’s truly jarring when you realize that all this time, when you thought God didn’t care, you’ve been running from Him.

  4. stev
    February 9, 2011 | 1:24 pm

    thank you,yes I will definitely be sharing your story with her.

  5. Charlotte
    June 18, 2011 | 12:36 pm

    I am a two year bc survivor lost my sister two years younger than me with this disease,she passed away one month after my operation on the same date when my mastectomy was done.God help us to get trough all our pain,without my fait in Him life would not be the same.The day when my doctor told me it is cancer i was so heartbreaking but after i told this to my children i was looking forward to the operation on my mind was to get this beast out of my body.I will never forget when i wake up i pulled the blanket down and say to every one my boobs is gone,so my fight against this disease start their.Treatment was tuff today i can motivate other women never to give up to fight this beast.Janelle thank you for your story.Sending your way a big Hug and lots of luv.Charlotte.

  6. Candy
    July 14, 2011 | 11:37 am

    I am so grateful for reading your story. I was diagnosed in March 2011 and am on treatment #3 of chemo (cytoxan every 3 weeks) for 4 treatments; followed by taxol weekly for 12 and then 332 radiation treatments. I have always looked for the good in difficult circumstances – and have so much faith in my God. He has always walked beside me and let me know that He is there. What a comfort. I have the comfort of so many family and Christian friends — but I have disconnected from God. I am trying to hold on but prayer doesn’t come easy these days. I used to be in constant communication with Him all day. My pastor has recommended a Philip Yancey book — Where is God….when times are tough I think is the name.
    I continue to go to church,prayer meetings and bible study. I have seen other women sail through their chemo and thought with my positive attitude I would be one of them. I am home resting more than I am up. I denied going through any grief over my diagnosis — Bring it on I am ready for the fight. I will still deny the grief. I think it is more anger and a letdown feeling that life is just moving on right now without me. (It’s hard to be on the receiving end…and yes I know this is a lesson from God as well.) Loved your message.

  7. Candy
    July 14, 2011 | 11:37 am

    oops – 32 radiation treatments – not 300!!

Leave a Reply

Wanting to leave an <em>phasis on your comment?

Trackback URL http://janellehail.wpengine.com/2010/10/i-am-second/trackback/