My Starfish Story

A true story of the glorious healing power of God through Jesus

My Starfish Story starts in May 2009. I was 42 years old when I went to the doctor because of a cold that had my lungs congested. I figured it had possibly developed into pneumonia; although I wasn’t sure because I’d never had pneumonia before.

My family doctor confirmed it was pneumonia, prescribed antibiotics and as a precaution decided to have me get a chest x-ray at a facility down the street a few miles. If the place wasn’t so close I probably would not have gone because I considered myself a very healthy person and thought it was unnecessary since I could recover easily with the medication and bed rest.

I’d even been working out for the previous year and felt good. I looked better than I had in years because I’d finally lost that 10 pounds I’d been trying to lose forever, but losing the weight had been hard and not the sudden weight loss you hear about when people are very ill. In hindsight, I was always exhausted after a workout but I thought that meant I was doing it right.

I get the chest x-ray and drive home. Not more than 10 minutes after coming in the door the Radiology place is calling saying my x-ray showed something and that they needed me to come back in right away for a more detailed CT-Scan. Although I’m surprised by how quickly they called, I’m still not concerned at this point since I figure it’s probably just a bad case of pneumonia and they need to take a closer look. I’d yet to find out, but it’s at this point my life is suddenly changed forever.

So, I drive back down to the imaging facility. At first, I was upset because I didn’t know a CT-Scan involved getting an IV and I hate needles. Once again I considered just walking out of the place because I was fine and they were over reacting.

I guess it started to dawn on me that something might be serious when the technicians who were doing the CT-Scan began treating me so overly kindly it seemed as if they thought I was a child. They were saying silly things like “I like dogs. Do you like dogs?”. The expression “being treated with kid-gloves” truly fits here.

In addition, I could see something in their eyes that told me something was very wrong. In hindsight I know it was compassion because they knew I was unaware of the storm that was on my horizon. Speaking of storms, my favorite saying through this whole journey was: “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass; it’s learning to dance in the rain.”

I finish the test and drive home. Within 30 minutes of getting there, the phone is ringing and it’s my doctor’s office wanting me to come in and discuss the results of the tests. At this point, my husband and I are a bit concerned because this doesn’t seem like a normal procedure for just a case of pneumonia.

It’s late now. We get to the doctor's office around 7 pm and we can see that from just the few cars in the parking lot that they are closing soon. Without delay, they take us into a back examining room. It’s a doctor I’ve never seen before and she doesn’t waste any time getting down to business. The test results show 3 large tumors in my chest, and they are all the size of baseballs.
We leave in shock and dismay; I’m the one in shock and my husband is in dismay. I remember thinking they must have goofed my test results up with somebody else’s because I felt fine and not even close to as bad as they were implying. My husband and I spent most of the rest of the night holding each other and crying.

Everything for the next several months is surreal. It probably takes around a month for me to finally accept what is happening to me because like everybody, I thought I was invincible and that these things only happen to other people.

Three incorrect diagnoses’ and three different doctors later we find out that I have stage 4 Lymphoepithelioma-like carcinoma (LELC); which is an extremely rare type of cancer that has only approximately 200 confirmed cases in the world. In my case, it had originated in my right lung and spread to some lymph nodes in my chest, my thymus, and pericardium. The doctors decide the best treatment is 8 rounds of chemo to shrink the inoperably large tumors, surgery to remove the cancer that remains after chemo and finally, radiation to kill any cancer cells that might have been missed during surgery.

Fast forward 14 years later to today and I’ll tell you that getting cancer was the best thing that ever happened to me. Without it, I wouldn’t be spiritually where I am today. With death looking you in the face you tend to look to God for help and comfort. Plus, I needed to get all my ducks in a row just in case I didn’t make it. I wanted to go to Heaven and not the ‘other’ place!

I grew up Catholic. (I have since converted and follow the Word of God; I seek the truth only as spoken and inspired by God - Father, Son and Holy Spirit - the Bible.) Up until I was around 16 we went to church fairly regularly. I was baptized, went to Sunday school and was confirmed. I never read the Bible except for the book of Revelation and it scared me so much that I never wanted to read the rest. (I have since come to study and fully appreciate the book of Revelation because we are to watch for the signs of our Lord's return, and it contains a special blessing from God.) I learned absolutely nothing at Sunday school but I’ve always had faith in God (YHWH) and Jesus (Yeshua). I had continued to pray in ebbs and flows throughout my life; always keeping God the Father and Jesus in my life with varying intensity.

I remember Jesus knocking on my door several times during adulthood in what I feel was attempts to bring me to the next spiritual level. I even consciously acknowledged it but I was never ready and ultimately chose to ignore it. Many years passed and then one day about 15 years ago while watching a TV sermon I was moved to do what the preacher prodded and asked Jesus into my heart and re-acknowledged Him as my Lord and Savior. It was an emotional moment but alas, afterward, nothing magical happened and I went about my busy life putting my continued sanctification on the back burner again.

That is until I got cancer. I feel the Lord was determined to get me to grow spiritually into the person He knew I could be and so He allowed the trial of cancer to refine me since it was an effective way to get my undivided attention and get me on the fast-track. You see, for several years before this, I had backslid and fallen into a life far from God - I was stumbling.

So, as a former member of the church of Laodicea, cancer was what I consider my 'gold refined in the fire' as described by Jesus in Revelation 3:18-19 "I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, so you become rich;... Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent." And Psalms 119:67 "Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word." I understand now that this tribulation was God's loving mercy and correction to get me back on the right path. Thank you and Halleluyah Jesus!
My starfish story occurred during the last month of chemo and about 1 month before surgery. My step-daughter called me one day to tell me about an intensely vivid dream she had where I and her dad (my husband) were eating starfish at a table during a feast like Thanksgiving. She was moved to look up the meaning of starfish in a dream interpretation book. The meaning was ‘rebirth’ and ‘regeneration’.

I absolutely loved it because the meaning I took away was that my body would physically be regenerated back to health and that spiritually I would be reborn.

I had accomplished so much spiritual growth in the months since my diagnosis. I was wholeheartedly seeking Jesus and praying daily for an understanding of our Father's Truth. Jesus is grace and truth made manifest. I was learning in leaps and bounds through the Bible and other books, resources & videos about what it means to be saved through Jesus and what God's ultimate goal is for us. That goal is that through our belief in the redemptive power of Jesus, the Son of God, we will also be made children of Father God and enter into His Kingdom.

It’s funny, but on a particularly dark day several months before this whole situation, I had prayed that God would help and guide me to be the person He wanted me to be. And He heard me! During this chemo treatment period, I had become so much closer to Father God and my beloved Lord, Savior, and friend, Jesus the Messiah. I’ve found God doesn’t always answer prayers the way you expect or want, but in the end, His plan is flawless.

A week or so after the dream, I’m getting a PET-Scan to determine if the cancer had shrunk enough for surgery. My husband and I are in the private room they put you in where you have 30 minutes to drink a quart size cocktail of yucky fluid and a radioactive tracer is injected.

I’m sitting in a chair reading a magazine in between gulps of the disgusting liquid and my husband is sitting in a chair next to me, also reading a magazine. Suddenly, I feel a pinch on the palm of my left hand. “Ouch!” I say as I drop the magazine and look at my palm. What I saw was the perfect blue outline of a starfish on my palm!

The outline was clear-cut and picture perfect. There was no mistaking it was a starfish. It had the familiar 5 arms with rounded edges - By the way, 5 is the number of grace. It was a little bigger than 1” by 1” and located next to my thumb in the lower left quarter of my palm. In awe, I show my husband. We look at each other in wonder.

At first, we thought that due to sweat some ink from the magazine had transferred the image to my palm. So we went through the entire magazine but there wasn’t a starfish to be found.

Now we get up and try to wash it off in the sink. Although we scrubbed hard with soap and water the starfish remained untouched.

Next, we call the nurse in and show him. He gets an alcohol pad and tries to clean it off. When it doesn’t work he stops and examines it for a long minute. Finally, he looks up in amazement and says he’s never seen anything like this but a vein under my skin has formed the starfish.

I’m stunned and comforted because I know something heavenly is reassuring me that “You’re going to be ok. Remember, rebirth and regeneration. I am with you.”

Glory to God!

I don’t know why it didn’t occur to us to take a picture of it. I had a camera, our smart phone which had picture and video capability and a Flip video camera in my purse. I kick myself to this day. I would have had proof! The starfish stayed perfect on my palm for around 3 hours and then it was suddenly and completely gone.

It was a blessing that my husband had witnessed it too. He is a deist and I’ve been trying to guide him for years into the understanding of a hands-on sovereign God who partakes in all aspects of our lives (when asked) and who, as John 3:16 famously says "so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life". And, I thought this miracle would surely do it. To my disappointment, he acknowledges that it happened but thinks that there must be, what he calls, a rational and physical explanation for it.

Years later it occurred to me that the reason why God ordained my husband to be there, was because it is written in Deuteronomy 19:15 "A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses". And who is a better second witness than one of a different credo? I do want to interject here that I don't think Jesus puts much emphasis on religion - look up in the Bible about what he spoke to the religious leaders of His time - but what is important is a RELATIONSHIP with Him. We must seek this.

Anyway, eventually, I did ask a few doctors if veins can spontaneously change into a new shape naturally and they both said, “They have never seen nor heard of such a thing happening.” My husband still doesn’t believe it was anything heavenly. But I know with God anything is possible.

The results from the PET-Scan showed the tumors had shrunk by over 80%! My surgeon was very pleased but said the surgery would still be very challenging. I start praying nightly that angels are present in the operating room to help him. For some reason, I asked specifically for the angels Gabriel, Patrick (there is a reason why I asked for Patrick but that is another story) and Michael. I also humbly asked that Jesus himself be there. I know – that is quite a cast of heroes!

I know something divine was there that day. Because after over 8 hours of surgery, the surgeon came out to tell my husband how it went and mentioned that for several minutes when they had first opened me up and saw the extent of the cancer they all just stopped and considered closing me back up. And this is the specialized thoracic surgical team of one of the top cancer centers in the United States. However, he and the other doctors decided to press on and finally they felt confident they got all but maybe 2% out. We found out later through pathology that the tiny amount they couldn’t remove was benign!

That day they removed my entire right lung, my thymus and a bundle of lymph nodes from my chest. They also had to remove part of my pericardium (the sac around your heart) and patch it with GORE-TEX®. I humorously like to say my heart was literally circumcised, like God says to spiritually do in Deuteronomy 10:16 "Therefore circumcise the foreskin of your heart, and be stiff-necked no longer."

It's 14 years later and I’m still here. I know it’s because of the grace of God, the healing of God made possible through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, faith, lots of prayers from friends & family, my own constant prayers, my devoted husband, and great doctors.

I had also been praying with a divine healer during the course of my treatment and when we did it I felt heat, almost an uncomfortable heat, in my chest area where the cancer was. Sometimes I felt what I would describe as subtle warm tingling when I would pray by myself.

Here is the prayer of healing I used:
“Father God, I come to you because of Jesus Christ. I believe that 2000 years ago, before I had ever experienced sickness, Jesus took my sickness on Himself when He hung on the cross. I believe Jesus became my Substitute. He took sickness so that I do not have to take it. In faith, I now receive this healing provision of Jesus. I believe that Jesus has risen from the dead and that by His Spirit, He is beside me and in me right now. In Jesus’ name I receive my healing. Thank you, Father! Amen.”
Pray this aloud. Say it in faith! Expect God’s healing power to flow through you. Prayer and praise are the most powerful spiritual instruments we have.

As it is written of Jesus in Matthew 8:17 'This fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah, “He took our sicknesses and bore our diseases.”'
It never ceases to amaze me that the starfish miracle is a gift that, as time goes by, I keep uncovering more facets too.

Not far into my journey, I learned that the Bible mentions rebirth and regeneration several times. Titus 3:5-7 says "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Spirit; which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that being justified by His grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life."

Also, one day I was thinking about the starfish and decided to look up if there was any Christian symbolism for the starfish. Here is my interpretation of what I found: “The starfish is seen as a celestial symbol which symbolizes deep divine love. The starfish also characterizes guidance.”

In addition, starfish can be found living attached to rocks, as I too, cling to the Rock of my Salvation.

Did I tell you that I love stars? I’ve been an astronomy buff since a dear friend of mine introduced me to it when I was 12. If I wasn’t terrible at math I’d have considered doing it as a profession. Is it an accident that the starfish looks like a star? I don’t think so. After all, it's commonly called a sea star!

This is all God’s perfect plan being revealed as divine synchronicity; what most call divine providence.

God is truly amazing!

What is the Gospel?

THE ABC's OF SALVATION (short video)
IN CHRIST ALONE (as a song)
Jesus said, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one goes to the Father except through me."
John 14:6

"If you declare with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord', and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, 'Anyone who believes in Him will never be put to shame.'"
Romans 10:9-11

The Starfish Poem

by Loren Eisley

As an old man walked the beach at dawn, he noticed a girl ahead of him picking up starfish and flinging them into the sea. Finally catching up with the girl, he asked why she was doing this. She answered that the starfish would die if left until the morning sun. "But the beach goes on for miles and there are millions of starfish," said the old man. "How can your effort make any difference?" The girl looked at the starfish in her hand, threw it safely into the waves and said, "It matters to that one!"