As Marci Belval awaited her biopsy results, she said she felt the Lord preparing her heart for a cancer diagnosis while enjoying their annual mid-July Beaver Lake vacation in Arkansas, where she, her husband, Andy, and three boys have created precious family memories over the past 12 years.
"This year God used this time as a personal retreat for me," said Belval, administrative assistant at Twin Oaks Christian School for six years. "He gently spoke to me and prepared me for this breast cancer diagnosis. He led me to find the actual lump in my breast which I had never felt before."
Marci had her first abnormal mammogram on July 9, a biopsy on August 4 and was officially diagnosed with breast cancer on August 6. Since then her weeks have been packed full of doctors' appointments, various scans and another biopsy that, praise God, came back benign.
For comfort, Marci is led to Isaiah 41:10, which says: "Do not be afraid, for I am with you; be not dismayed for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."
"Even now, reading this verse makes His love so palpable," noted Belval. "When I was given the actual breast cancer diagnosis in August, it didn't even throw me for a loop because I already knew!"
Her 18-month journey will consist of 12 weeks of chemotherapy, starting on Friday, Sept 25, followed by two surgeries, radiation and continued targeted therapy treatments. Marci's prayer is that she and her family will feel the presence of Christ in the days ahead, that God will be glorified even in the hard times and for God to uphold Andy and the boys as they take on more household responsibilities and serve as caretakers.
Andy and Marci celebrated their silver 25-year wedding anniversary this summer. These many years of marriage have brought many blessings, the highlights being their three sons, Jason (19), Ethan (17) and Nolan (12). Jason and Ethan attended TOCS through eighth grade and Nolan is currently in Mrs. Walker's seventh grade class.
"We are so grateful to have Godly friends to help us through Marci's care plan," said Andy, referring to the numerous brothers and sisters in Christ who have reached out to offer their prayers and support.
At the school office, where Marci is an integral part of the operation, TOCS parents and members of the church have stepped up to volunteer and provide support while Marci undergoes her treatments and works from home. "My doctor has cleared me to go to work on days that I feel well," said Belval. "By God's grace, I hope to be at work more than I am gone. I love this community and there is nowhere else I'd rather be during this time."
Providing office coverage for Marci on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays will be TOCS mom of three, Rebecca Fox, who has been serving as the Thursday office volunteer since February.
"Although Marci will be working from home, we don't want her to worry about the day-to-day office tasks, but rather focus on rest and recovery, said TOCS Office Manager Amanda Compton, adding with a laugh, "I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little anxious about not having Marci in the office, as she definitely keeps me on task. I always joke that I'm the communicative personality and she's the brains!"
Please be in prayer for Marci and her family as they navigate this very stressful time in life and for God to bless them with comfort and peace despite the circumstances.
You may follow Marci's journey at this Caring Bridge link: www.caringbridge.org/visit/marcibelval