Coping with the Confluence of Cancer, Chemo and Covid 19–A Testimony, Part II

Breathe on me breath of God

James Cleveland – Breathe On Me


Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, I am a survivor of an aggressive stage 3 cancer. Yet in the waning days of the initial 120-day phase of my treatment plan, I am doing a victory lap now. I have emerged from the harrowing abyss of mental and physical pain and suffering known as chemotherapy. And, I still have joy.

From the day of my diagnosis, Jesus said my sickness is not unto death; that I would live to tell about my journey. Furthermore, he said the battle before me is not mine but His. I was to “soldier on.” A soldier on assignment; my commanding officer is the Lord, the Lord of Hosts, Lord Sabaoth is He. My assignment: to extrapolate and expound upon the Kingdom purpose in a journey such as mine—not calling attention to myself, but calling attention to the Lord to whom the glory belongs. This is a call to a transparency some might find jarring.

The nature of my treatment has been cyclical. So, when asked, if I were in a bad way, I was in a bad way. Conversely, if I were in a good way, I was in a good way. When I could pray, I prayed for me. When I couldn’t pray, others prayed for me. When I could go to work, I went to work. When I couldn’t go to work, I did not go to work. At every point of inquiry, whatever the good, bad or indifferent response, I have sought to give God glory.

Surprisingly, telling my truth as it was has led some to attribute to me some extraordinary measure of courage. Know that in and of myself, I am not so much as courageous as I am fortified. With every plunge into the abyss of suffering, I looked for my commanding officer to bring me up and out; and He has. With every respite from the abyss, I looked to my commanding officer to use that season to fortify me for the next challenging stretch; and He has.

I am sharing my testimony because the call to soldier on is a universal one. No one signs up for cancer, chemotherapy, COVID-19, unemployment, bankruptcy, abandonment, betrayal, or any of the myriad of life’s maladies and misfortunes. Yet and still, some catastrophic, life-altering experience is on each of our horizons. And at that juncture, we can choose to cave to the: “Why me? Why now? Why not them?” Or we can choose to soldier on, in agreement with Lord Sabaoth, that the battle is His and not ours.

I am a survivor, because the Lord says so. If I am courageous, it is because the Lord makes me so. I chose to answer the call to soldier on, for as Sir Isaac Watts once aptly put it: “Sure I must fight, if I would reign. Increase my courage Lord. I’ll bear the toil, endure the pain, supported by thy Word.”

Beloved, whatever the Lord of Hosts has done for me, the Lord of Hosts can do for you. At the juncture of your next life challenge, I pray you will be of good courage and make choice to the soldier on. As you soldier on, I pray you, too, will give God glory.

The Rev. Dr. Letitia Williams Watford is the Presiding Elder of the Tuskegee District, Ninth Episcopal District, where Bishop Harry L. Seawright is the presiding prelate. She is the first vice president of the Ninth District AME WIM. She practices dentistry in Union Springs (Bullock County), Alabama.


mon oct 3 2022 7a cdt mgy REmbr… G is, as G can only BE. GOOD

In Memory of Akiriyiah (Kirah) McClellan
June 22, 2006 – Feb 16, 2022