Joy Bachman didn’t spend much time thinking about cancer. With stage 1 melanoma removed from her neck via surgery a decade prior, her life was rich and full. This mother of four was happily married and looking forward to celebrating her husband’s birthday. No one could have seen it coming – the grand mal seizure in her sleep that left her flat on the floor by the bedside, not breathing.
Her husband’s 911 call and the subsequent trip to the hospital kept her alive, but only to be given the news that cancer was back. Doctors found three tumors in her brain, tumors in her lungs, bones, and adrenal glands. Should she say no to surgery, she’d have two weeks to live. Yes to surgery, and it would buy her three to six months. Surgery was the obvious answer, and after the brain tumors were removed, her life forecast was extended six to eight months. Upon gaining consciousness after the surgery she told the doctors, “When you leave this room you can only come back when you have more positive information.”
Joy, a Bend native and a lifelong Christian, had all the support a woman could ask for. Her faith in God meant she was 100 percent confident in God’s ability to heal her. But would he? “I have battled fear and anxiety all my life,” she confesses.
Her greatest fear in these new circumstances took shape in the form of the throat-clenching possibility that she would not be around for her kids and husband much longer. “I wanted to make sure my kids wouldn’t be mad at God if He took me,” she says. “I wanted them to know God is in control. Philippians 1:6 says, ‘He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ,’ and I believe my kids are my good work. I wanted to complete my good work within my children, as their mom.”
Joy’s immediate family, consisting of her husband, Sonny, and four children, Rylynn (23), Randon (21), Rhynn (10), and Reid (8), rallied with her extended family and Westside Church community to press into prayer as never before. Together they all welcomed with great faith a miracle of God to intervene and save Joy’s life.
That first seizure had left her partially paralyzed. She could not move any of the left side of her body. Rhynn, who was 7 at the time, prayed over her mother, asking Jesus, “Will you heal her by tomorrow?” That night Joy was able to begin moving her toes. Not much later she could move her foot. Then her leg. “Jesus tells us to have faith like children,” Joy says. “Rhynn had huge faith and I experienced healing because of it.”
The prayers of her community never ceased. At one point Joy got down to 89 pounds, her body full of cancer, and was put on hospice. A trial drug had caused her body to go septic. In early 2015 she was given five to ten days to live.
Sobbing one night, she asked the Lord for a word from Him that things would be okay. Jeremiah 29:11 came to mind, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” Joy did not know if she could trust how the verse just came to her, so she asked the Lord to confirm it. The next day her sister walked into her hospital room with a bracelet displaying Jeremiah 29:11.
“These kinds of things happened over and over to build my faith,” says Joy of the countless moments God showed Himself throughout her healing journey. Prayers would be said and God would directly answer or grant timely affirmations that He was present as Guide, Protector, and Healer.
When her doctor put her on another medication that worked, her cancer began to decrease and her strength began to increase. Joy started yet another medication, and in the spring of 2017 she was declared in remission and cancer free. The scar tissue in her brain continues to cause seizures, so she does not drive, receives infusions, and continues on medication. But, “I am alive and no longer have an expiration date!” she says. “Jesus healed me.”
“It’s not like I’m glad I had cancer,” she says, “but since it happened so many stories and confirmations from the Lord took place that built my faith.”
Through the process of questioning why God would allow this to happen to her, Joy began to see that one of His beautiful purposes involved her expanding platform. Joy’s life and healing story allows her to connect with people whose hearts are otherwise closed to the gospel, from innocent strangers to caretakers and doctors.
Her oncologist, Dr. Ericson, became a dear friend through their many appointments. The depth of his compassion for Joy showed through the tears he wept while delivering the news that she had only five to ten days to live. In that moment, she had inexplicable peace, one that could only from the Lord. When she shared the gospel with him, he would later pick up a Bible for the first time and he recently finished it. He has joined Joy and Sonny at church, and today remains a friend who is more open to knowing Jesus than ever before.
“My old youth pastor, Rory, used to say, ‘You know it’s a miracle if it’s doomed to fail unless God steps in.’ I was doomed to fail and God stepped in. Oftentimes people in the medical field say they do not understand how I’m alive today, that it does not make sense. But God healed me and that is the truth; it’s the story I get to share with others. He has extended my life because of others’ prayers and faith, because of my faith, and because He’s not done with me yet. He is the God of the impossible. Nothing is impossible in Him.”
Written by: Jodi Carlson || Photos by: Joleen Reed