Heather Hancock on Faith Through Illness: Spastic Diplegia Cerebral Palsy
Welcome to another Warrior of the Week guest interview. In this Faith Through Illness series we will meet various chronic illness warriors who'll share their faith journey with us. How does chronic illness affect their faith and how does their faith affect their condition?
This week I have the honour of sharing Heather Hancock's story. Heather is a Christian Inner Healing Coach helping women to find freedom from their emotional scars and spiritual wounds. She has a gorgeous blog where she writes about healing and overcoming through faith. I'm sure you will be as encouraged by her story as I am.
Faith Through Illness Interview
What is your diagnosis?
I have Spastic Diplegia Cerebral Palsy and Post Impairment Syndrome. I have lived with CP since being born extremely premature. CP is a condition where the signals from your brain do not get to your muscles properly. Every person is unique in how this manifests in their bodies.
Spastic Diplegia means that my muscles are always in a state of partial contraction and can be tipped over into a spasm extremely quickly. Diplegia means half...in my case my legs are the most affected, though I do have some spasticity in my arms.
Post Impairment Syndrome is something we deal with as we get older. People with CP use 5-8 times more energy to do basic things. Over time, that and the way our muscles pull on our bones results in chronic pain, chronic fatigue and loss of function in various areas.
Briefly explain the process you went through to get your diagnosis.
When I survived birth (I weighed 1lb 6oz. at 25 weeks gestation) that was a miracle. I wasn't walking until I saw my younger brother walking, so at 20 months I started trying to copy him. It was at that point, my parents realized something was wrong as I was walking on tiptoes with my feet turned in so I would fall over them.
At 2 years of age, I was finally diagnosed with Spastic Diplegia Cerebral Palsy by a Paediatric Orthopaedic Surgeon at Alberta's children's hospital. I underwent heel cord stretching surgery on both legs, followed by casting so that I could put my heels down and walk. I had both done at age 3 and the right one again at age 7.
How has chronic illness affected your faith? Why do you think this happened?
Since I have known nothing else, I would say it is what drives me to Jesus every day because I cannot do this without Him. My faith has been made solid as I learn to stay present in the moment with my eyes fixed on Him. I live one day at a time.
It wasn't always so, I gave my life to Christ at age 14 when I was very suicidal as a result of years of abuse and being told that I shouldn't be here. I have walked with God for 36 years and counting.
Through that journey, I have come to the place that Job did and am able to 100% say, "Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him!"
God's ways are not my ways and neither are His thoughts my thoughts.
How has your church family responded to your condition and need?
I have been in various churches. Living with a disability means that most churches are inaccessible if you cannot navigate stairs of sit in tiered seats. I attend my current church when I am able to, but that's about 1-2 times per month (when they meet in our building).
I have limited contact and do not hear from my pastor very often at all. I do not feel supported by my church in the ways that I need to and most of that is just because of ignorance or a lack of willingness to adjust to my needs.
Do you have any habits that you feel strengthen your faith or bring you comfort and peace?
I read my bible, pray, write in my journal and listen to worship music.
Which character in the Bible do you most resonate with during your illness?
Wow, that's a hard one. I resonate with so many as my condition is life-long. I resonate with Joseph, with Job and with Esther the most. All of these characters faced situations that forced them to shift their mindsets and they became overcomers. I am an overcomer.
Share your favourite Bible verses and why they are so meaningful to you.
Jeremiah 29:11 reassures me that God does have a plan for my life.
Psalm 139 reminds me of how precious I am to God and the value that He attaches to my life.
2 Corinthians 4:16 brings me comfort in the midst of my suffering by reminding me that this life is temporary but eternity is infinite.
What Is Your Favourite Christian Website?
What Is Your Favourite Christian Book?
Hind's Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard
Do you have a message of encouragement for those struggling with chronic illness?
Keep your eyes on Jesus. He is both your anchor in the storm and the rock that you stand on. He is your strength and shield.
He understands your suffering, your pain... the things that no one sees. He is with you always, even to the end of the age.
Thank you so much for doing this interview, and sharing your story with us, Heather!
Connect with Heather
Would you like to be featured in this series?
If you would like to share your journey of faith through chronic illness, visit this page and complete the interview form. Your interview might be slightly different as the format has been updated. I look forward to hearing how the Lord is working in and through your life - Char