Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen;
it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.
By Dusty Donaldson
When Charlotte Hummer was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer in April 2001, the prognosis was grim. The 5-year survival rate for Stage IV lung cancer is less than 10 percent. Charlotte’s oncologist encouraged her to live her life to the fullest, without destroying her quality of life by undergoing harsh chemotherapy.
Charlotte knew lung cancer was deadly. She watched helplessly as lung cancer claimed her husband Lee during the summer of 1987. He was gone a few weeks after his diagnosis.
Charlotte has been a fighter all her life. As a 13-year-old girl, Charlotte remembers her mother lying on her death bed with a grave heart problem. The prognosis was dire.
“Everyone was gathered around my mother,” says Charlotte. “They were all wailing and crying.” Charlotte went off by herself, shut the door to her bedroom and desperately prayed. That was the day Charlotte first put her faith in the Lord. “God, please don’t take my mama. I need my mama.”
Heaven heard her heartfelt plea. Charlotte knew in her spirit that her mother was going to recover. She had faith. She told those who were mourning prematurely that her Mother would be OK.
“The Lord told me my mother was not going to die then,” Charlotte says. “They looked at me like I was crazy.”
Her Mother indeed did recover. She lived another 10 years…long enough to see Charlotte’s firstborn child born.
Lung cancer wasn’t Charlotte’s first battle with cancer. Charlotte had sparred with two other types of cancer previously. She was diagnosed with cervical cancer when she was pregnant with her third child, Johnnie. Given the choice of carrying the child to full term or aborting him to undergo treatment, she carried her son to full term. She delivered a healthy son. Then she had a hysterectomy.
A few years later, cancer took another jab at Charlotte. She was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a double mastectomy. She knew lung cancer would be a fierce opponent. But with her faith and fighting spirit, she was ready. When the doctor told her she had advanced lung cancer, she pressed him for a time line. He reluctantly told her that she probably wouldn’t make it until Christmas. (The median survival rate is about eight months.)
Her pastor’s wife was with Charlotte when she received the diagnosis. Charlotte applied her faith to what Scripture instructed her to do. James 5:15-16 states “Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well.” The elders of her church, Faith Missionary Alliance, laid hands on her and prayed. When one elder’s hand was placed on her back (she does not know which elder) “it felt like a hot iron,” she says.
She knew then—just as she knew when the Lord healed her mother—she was not going to die soon. This April has been nine years since Charlotte’s diagnosis. Since the diagnosis, Charlotte has celebrated eight Christmases. Ironically and tragically, her beloved oncologist who gave her the diagnosis, died in a car accident.
Charlotte’s message is one of hope. She wants to share it with others. “Never. Never. Never give up hope,” she says.
Maybe what keeps her going Christmas after Christmas is her memory of how precious her own mother’s life was to her as she knelt down and captured the Lord’s ear. She now fights for her family.
“For my children and my grandchildren,” she says.
Charlotte had a recurrence of lung cancer last fall. She hasn’t stopped fighting…but she is aware that her time here may be running out. “There’s just nothing else they can do,” she says.
Yet Charlotte has peace about where she’s going. She has enjoyed all of these years with her family. She has faith that she is going to be in the Lord’s presence. But she has a special request of Him. Charlotte doesn't think she will feel at home in a "mansion."
"I don’t want a mansion,” she says. For Charlotte, outdoor camping is the closest thing to heaven. She hopes her mansion in the sky will be a campground surrounded by nature.
Editor’s Note: Charlotte Hummer told her story on Christmas Eve 2009. She peacefully passed away June 11, 2010, more than nine years after her oncologist gave her a few months to live.