She never knew her dad, her mum was a bar girl, then last year she found a lump in her breast. How much more can she bear?
by Christine Leow // December 23, 2022, 3:43 pm
When Prisca Loke discovered a lump in her breast last September, she did not dare ask God why it happened for fear that He would say: "Why not you?" Photos courtesy of Prisca Loke.
Prisca Loke knows heartache and hardship.
She grew up without knowing her father. To this day, he remains nothing more than a name on her birth certificate. Her mother worked most of her life at nightclubs.
“She was what you would call a bar girl,” Prisca, 58, tells Salt&Light.
Because of her mother’s job, Prisca moved from nanny to nanny as a child, often suffering abuse at their hands. She was five before she got to live with a nanny who gave her some stability. For the next 10 years, Prisca lived with this nanny who “changed her life”, giving her the love and structure she so badly needed and taking her to church where Prisca became a Christian.
“Till now, we are very close. They consider me like their own family. I call her Godmum.”
When she was 16, Prisca moved to Kuala Lumpur to live with her mother. By then, her mum was a gambler, an alcoholic and a “kept woman” moving from man to man. They often did not have enough money, and mother and daughter had to share one meal to get by.
“Once she was so drunk, she came home and squatted in the room and nearly peed on my face.”
In her 20s, Prisca walked away from church towards the life of partying and clubbing she had once sworn she would never live. But God pursued her and in her 30s, she returned.
She would live through challenges in her marriage, difficulties in parenting her son who felt she neglected him, before settling into life in her 50s.
Then, last September, she discovered a lump in her right breast.
A good doctor
As part of routine health checks, Prisca goes for annual blood tests. She had just gone for one in September last year.
“I asked the doctor, ‘Can the blood test detect cancer markers?’ He said, ‘Yeah, yeah.’ But the report didn’t find anything.”
So, when she leaned against her bolster one night and felt a sharp pain in her right breast, Prisca brushed the incident aside even though she already had a niggling feeling that “something was not right somewhere”.
“I thought perhaps I had injured my breast. After all, the report hadn’t said anything.”
Prisca, who served in intercessory prayer and the healing ministry in her church, did begin praying for her own health, though.
“The name of the hospital just dropped into my heart.”
“As the days went by, the lump become bigger and started to harden till the nipple pulled back and became inverted. But I didn’t feel sick.”
By February this year, there was another, smaller lump in her breast.
“In my heart, I was quite fearful.”
She decided to heed God’s prompting to consult a doctor.
“I prayed very hard, ‘Lord, please give me a doctor who will not scold me for coming in so late, who has compassion. Please give me a good doctor so that I don’t have to run around seeking a second opinion but can go straight for relevant treatment.’”
Prisca called the hospital closest to her home. When they did not pick up her phone call, she tried another.
“The name of that hospital just dropped into my heart.”
She did not know it then but the hospital is the best for cancer treatment in Selangor where Prisca lives.
God would step up for her even more.
The hospital allowed Prisca to select the doctor who would treat her. They sent her three choices.
“The first was a man, the other two were women. When I saw his picture, tears just flowed. He was the one who had attended to my late mother. I was very comforted. I felt the peace. God is good.”
An unusual calm
While waiting for an appointment to see the doctor, Prisca would pray every day. On the night before her PET scan, she prayed as usual.
“I told God, “Can I make some requests? If I have to go through chemo, suffer and still die fast, then please take me home. As a Christian, going back home is something everyone would look forward to.
“But I also told God, ‘If it is not my time Lord, I want to fight this battle because fighting this battle is also to glorify Your name. I will do whatever it takes to fight the battle.
“You know everything. Nothing happens without Your knowledge (Lamentations 3:37). I don’t know what is the purpose. But I don’t dare ask You because I’m so afraid that You will speak to me in an audible voice and say, ‘Why not you?’
“Then I said, ‘Lord, I’m going to surrender my life to You because this is the life You gave me.’”
She did, indeed, have Stage 4A breast cancer. But the assurance from God the night before stilled her soul.
After the PET scan, Prisca had to wait for the results. The night before, “the number 4 dropped into my heart” while she was showering. She feared it meant that hers was Stage 4 breast cancer.
“But I felt the Lord telling me to be still and know that He is God (Psalm 46:10a).”
It was with this mindset that Prisca went to the hospital the next day. The doctor told her that the cancer had spread to her spine and lymph nodes. She did, indeed, have Stage 4A breast cancer.
But the assurance from God the night before stilled her soul.
“I was so calm, it surprised me. I was more concerned about what to do next.”
When her doctor, who is not a believer, asked her what she had been doing since she first felt the lump six months before in September 2021, Prisca said simply that she had been praying.
“I told him, ‘If I didn’t pray, I think today the result might be even worse.’”
After that, Prisca cried only once about her diagnosis, when she thought about breaking the news to her husband and her children – a daughter, as well as a son in Australia. Till now, her son does not know she has cancer because she does not want him to rush home for her.
When she eventually told her husband and her daughter, everyone was calm.
“It helped that they saw that I was very calm. My calmness helped them pull through it. If I had broken down and cried and sobbed, they also wouldn’t know what to do.”
The battle against cancer
Prisca admitted that, while she was calm, she did feel trepidation about her diagnosis.
“I am afraid. Who is not afraid? But this is a battle. I have no time to cry, I have to start the warfare against cancer.
“Through this, my relationship with my husband became so much closer.”
“I am a trainer in emotional mind management and had been in the prayer and intercession ministry for years. If I didn’t apply what I had learnt all these years, it would all have been wasted.”
Prisca discovered that the entire medical team caring for her is Christian and she was further comforted.
“It was God’s way of assuring me.”
Prisca has plenty of other Christian support. On top of the various prayer groups interceding for her, God also led her to a group of Christian women going through breast cancer treatment. They now support each other.
More reprieve was to come. She had been mentally prepared to undergo chemotherapy and to experience all its side effects.
“My good friend even told me, ‘What you want to eat, I bring you to eat before you go for chemo.’”
Instead, her doctor put her on targeted therapy and hormonal therapy. But she was told to lose some weight because being overweight could affect the efficacy of her treatment. She took the doctor’s instructions seriously and began running 4km daily. She also started hiking with her husband.
“Through this, my relationship with my husband became so much closer. We have so many things to talk about.”
With the exercise and a change to a healthier diet, Prisca lost 9kg in two months. She has maintained her weight ever since.
She also slowed down her work as a trainer, choosing to only work two days a week. In her quiet moments with God, she prays through all the verses she can find in the Bible about healing.
It has been eight months since Prisca started her treatment. Her doctor tells her she is responding to the medication. Her condition is considered stable.
By the second month of treatment, the hard lump in her breast softened. By the fifth month, her doctor asked her to return for check-ups every two months instead of monthly.
“My friends tell me, ‘Miraculously, you don’t look sick.’ I tell them, ‘Sometimes, I also forget I have cancer.’”
She is not in the clear and treatment is ongoing. But she feels well.
“I believe God is leading me to change my life. I exercise, have reduced my training jobs and eat better.”
There have been other changes. Her relationship with her husband has become much closer and he has become “more open” to talking about her faith.
“The Holy Spirit said: ‘All these years, I have given you a natural gifting for this language. What do you think was the purpose?’”
Because of that, Prisca prayed for a church that worships at a later time on Sundays so she could continue hiking with her husband.
God brought her to one such church. Prisca was at a supermarket located at the hospital where she was getting treatment. The woman running the place turned out to be an old acquaintance who had become a Christian. The woman worships at a church near Prisca’s house and the worship service is on Sunday afternoons.
“But the service is a Chinese service. How? Many years ago, I had been very interested in Chinese and had learnt the language on my own.
“The Holy Spirit then spoke to me, ‘All these years, I have given you the natural gifting to learn this language. What do you think was the purpose?’”
Prisca decided to move to that church. Even when she travels for work, she makes sure to join the service via Zoom.
On one such occasion, she realised that some of the people in the virtual service did not understand the Mandarin service as well.
“He is leading me into a newness of my life mission, which brings much meaning and joy in my daily life.”
She was prompted to translate the message for them, typing in the translation in the Zoom chat. So, a new way for her to serve was born.
Even as she is continuing to fight against cancer, Prisca recognises God’s gracious hand and provision in the big and small things of her life.
She is grateful for her growing closeness with her husband and the support from her group of sisters in Christ who are also cancer patients.
And when darkness threatens to overwhelm her thoughts, she stops herself from googling information that gets her “all worried up” and instead holds fast to God’s reminder to “lean not on my own understanding but trust in the God whose Word is Yes and Amen.”
Despite her challenges, she sees God’s hand clearly in her life.
“As I draw near to Him each day, I sense that He is leading me into a newness of my life mission, which brings much meaning and joy in my daily life.”
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