Chemotherapy Made Me Ugly…Beautiful

I have cancer. The words permeate my brain even through the haze of sleep. They haven’t been far from thoughts, since my diagnosis the week before. I offer up another pleading prayer for guidance and snuggle back to sleep.

My double stroller cast a long shadow in the cool morning. I push it along the sidewalk in front of my house, sauntering our way to my son’s elementary school around the corner. My youngest resting inside while my four and seven-year-olds run ahead.

I have a disease people die from. The words still ring surreal. This isn’t the sort of thing that happens to women with three young children to raise. Had I done something wrong? Was God done with me? Or maybe He just wanted me home.

I push on, imagining all the changes ahead. How ugly I will look with no hair and poison killing my cells. Will I physically be strong enough to continue escorting my oldest to school when I start chemotherapy?

Peace falls over me. I stop and close my eyes basking in His presence. He is always near, but since this trial began I feel connected to God and my church in a new way. As if I could feel their heartfelt prayers. The hum had been louder and more frequent that first night of learning my diagnosis. Although, more sporadic, their prayers still stop me.

Someone squeezes my arm.

My eyes pop open and Jesus smiles.

Fear shoots through me. My savior who knows everything about me stands before me. He smiles as if he’s restraining a laugh. His warm eyes hold no judgment only excitement at what he’s about to share. My shock is replaced with curiosity.

He grasps my chin. I feel a feather touch as his hand trails down my neck and chest. His fingers separate my skin as if I’m being unzipped. Electric blue light unveils across my chest and arms.

He tosses my skin in a pile on the ground. Apparent among the folds, are my deepest scars, one from a surgery in my teens and another from childhood. My dark rooted scalp with lighter hair dye tops it. A disgusting, dirty pile of flesh.

I lift my new arm. The sparkles of light aren’t like body spray as much as what forms me—vibrant blue, glittery light over a smooth, firm translucent substance, in the shape of beautifully curved woman. I’m bare but the lines are so lovely I’m not ashamed or embarrassed. I’ve never felt so stunning.

I awake to the ringing of my alarm clock on my phone.

Did the dream mean I needed to focus on my spirit? That the outer skin is not important inner beauty is what matters to God? “Man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (1Samuel 16:7, ESV). I knew that already, but now feel it deep.

Or is He telling me to trust Him because one of these mornings when I’m strutting through life, I’ll encounter Jesus and He’ll give me a new body? Paul talks about our body as a tent (2 Corinthians 5).

A couple of months later after a few chemo treatments, I walk into my bedroom to work on the laundry that sprawls across my bed. As has become my custom, I avoid the full-length mirror. Hardly recognizing myself, I’m the ugliest in my life—bald head, no eyelashes or eyebrows, puffy face and swollen body. I resemble an alien creature. A spectacle.

I won’t think about that, instead I tackle the mound of unmatched socks. I need to remember God’s moving me forward hard and fast—giving me more of Himself, and scraping out more of me, answering my pleading prayer from before my diagnosis to increase my faith, increase my trust in Him, and increase my love for others. And decrease my evil pride.

God, I didn’t even realize how vain I was until I became ugly. 

 You’re beautiful. The words wash over me along with my memory of the dream. There’s no way that thought came from me.

Holding a sock, I sink to the edge of my bed and let the tears flow. “Thank you, God. I love you, too.”

“Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised” (Proverbs 31:30).

The next time I check my box at church I discover a note from Vanessa, a friend who seems to breath out encouragement wherever she goes. I smile reading her words of reassurance. My breath catches and I reread a line. “God wants you to know you’re beautiful.”

Tears blur my vision. The first card I receive that speaks for God and it’s something He’s already told me. Don’t you love it when God reaches out and shares His love for you?

Why is it so hard for us to realize what it means to be clothed in Jesus? We are perfect and beautiful in Him. Not by our own gifts. But what He has done for us. The cross. In Him and within the body.

Do you see how the body alive in Him moves and breathes? What if Vanessa hadn’t been brave enough to speak the words God put on her heart? What if she hadn’t recognized His voice at all? By faith we believe (Hebrews 11:3).


Dear Lord, please help us to remember to praise You because we are fearfully and wonderfully made. You made each of us unique and beautiful and for a purpose. Let us not forget we are made perfect by Christ. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Take Jonny Diaz’s lyrics to heart and know, “There could never be a ‘More Beautiful You.’”

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Have a blessed week!




26 thoughts on “Chemotherapy Made Me Ugly…Beautiful

  1. Oh Robyn, I’m in tears!!! You are truly amazingly beautiful in Him. Its absolutely humbling and I’m in awe of God to see how He always makes something gorgeous out of something impossible to mankind. Thank you for touching my heart through your life, for being an example of true beauty and sharing your inner being with all of us. I love your transparency, love for God and to be able to taste how truly good God is to all of us. I love you my sister in Christ.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dear Robyn,

    How I love yo read your words of beauty, faith and hope! Thank you for for sharing your amazing talent and your deep thoughts and feelings! Your bravery and honesty touch my heart and soul! You are truly beautiful! May God bless you today and every day!

    Love, Jeannie

    Sent from my iPhone


    Liked by 1 person

  3. I met you after your diagnosis, and I’ve always thought you were beautiful. Plus, you were the first to welcome me at Robinson. Like truly welcome, not just like hi, glad you’re here.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I didn’t know that about being the first to really welcome you! But I do remember feeling like God had answered my prayer to bring another friend into my life. I’m so blessed to know you and your sweet family!


    1. Thank you, Laurie. Just for the record, I’m still praying my hair improves by September. And I can’t wait to meet Tinsel’s creator at the conference!


  4. Ok This just about made me cry. You are a beautiful person inside and outside. And, I love sitting behind you and your boys on Sunday mornings!!!!! I am so glad we have “assigned seats”!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Come on, not one tear? I’m pouring my heart out here!!! 🙂
      We love being “assigned” in front of you, especially, when you bring us peanut butter cups! Thanks for commenting!


  5. You are an amazing blessing to so many. The transparency of your life, your thoughts, your heart for God…I’ve been thinking of you & crying on & off since yesterday,( I can finally see well enough to leave a comment😌). So pleased to see YOU, in all your God given wonderful beauty. So blessed to know see Christ through & in you…

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Your words are so touching and well written I feel I don’t have the right words to reply. Your words, thoughts, scripture and music put together to make me think how we should think more about our inner beauty. You are beautiful inside and outside!💕

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are too! I’m so blessed to have you as a heart mom. Thanks for the encouragement today and always. I couldn’t do this without you all cheering me on!


  7. Once again you move me with your God given talent for the written word. You are a true warrior for God in so many ways! I am so blessed to call you a friend and sister in him!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Wow what a beautiful message Robyn. I love love love that our savior came to you in a dream showing you your beauty and his gentle kindness. What a blessing that dream was and what a blessing to me that you shared it. I’m in ahh of the way you handled this struggle with grace and steadfastness. God is surely alive in you. Continued blessing for you and your beautiful family.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This journey wasn’t something I would have opted for given the choice but in some ways I think I asked for it seeking a deeper relationship with Christ. If that makes any sense. Count it all joy when you face trials of many kinds has new meaning now. Thanks so much for commenting. Your support means so much, sister.


  9. Dearest Robyn, I had no idea. What a beautiful testimony to faith. And that smile of yours has not changed an iota. You are beautiful, and I’m so happy to know you. You are an encouragement to all of us. No matter what comes in life, we have a loving Savior who is there every step of the way. God bless you and your family.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahhh, thanks, Sharon. I do believe I’ll be my old self again at least physically. Being His witness is not always easy but I’m so blessed when it encourages others. Thank you for sharing!


  10. Dear Robyn, What a Totally Cool Dream‼️ You explained it so well, I could See Jesus & his Healing Light!

    I Love dreams & know how they are hard to describe in words, sometimes! Thank You for being so open & sharing this with us! Love Vanessa & You❣️ Rosemary Lowe


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