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Cancer Survivor Impacts Young Lives for Jesus

Erin Weidemann, founder of Bible Belles, shares how a cancer diagnosis changed her faith and persuaded her to help young girls discover real beauty through the Bible. Read Transcript


In 2006, Erin Weidermann was diagnosed with thyroid cancer.

Doctors determined that the cancer

had metastasized throughout her body, including her brain.

Take a look.

NARRATOR: In 2006, Erin Weidermann

was a self-proclaimed atheist when she

got the shock of a lifetime.

Erin, an avid athlete, had cancer.

When a powerful radiation treatment quarantined her,

she hit her knees asking God for help.

Erin battled cancer four more times in the last 10 years.

Please welcome to "The 700 Club" Erin Weidermann.

It's nice to have you here.

Thanks so much, Terry.

It's exciting to be here.

You grew up, Erin, in a Christian family.

How did you go from that Christian upbringing

and being taught about Christ to becoming an atheist?

What determined that for you?

You know, I think early on for me,

I just did all of the check-the-box church things--

stand up, sit down, repeat after me, memorize your catechism,

all the normal things you would do in a church-school combo.

And as I got more into school and athletics and academics

and the competition that exists between kids and, you know,

insecurity and comparison and all those negative emotions,

I didn't hold onto the truths of God's word.

And I had never really made a connection with God.

So I fell away from my faith right around high school.

TERRY MEEUWSEN: Mhmm.

You discovered at a young age--

I mean, here you are an athlete.

You're very strong.

You're very able.

And you're diagnosed with cancer.

What happened?

ERIN WEIDERMANN: A couple years into my college experience,

I had felt just a small lump on my neck.

I went to get it checked out by a team doctor.

And they just said, you know, this is normal.

When you get sick, your lymph nodes change.

And this is totally normal.

You have no symptoms, so just don't worry about it.

So I didn't worry about it.

It wasn't until I was 26 that I was in the doctor's office.

You know, he checked me for just a few seconds.

And he put his hands on my hands and looked into my eyes

and said, Erin, you have cancer.

What are you doing tomorrow?

We're having surgery.

TERRY MEEUWSEN: Wow.

You know, for a lot of people, Erin,

when they get a diagnosis like that,

their faith is what they rely on.

But here you are.

You're an atheist, and you get this diagnosis.

How do you respond to that?

I approached it like an athlete would.

I put my head down.

I thought, I can persevere.

I've trained and done strength and conditioning

and weightlifting and all the things you do to grow yourself

up to become a strong athlete.

And I thought, I can push through this.

And I just hit my breaking point in June 2007, ended up,

you know, in a quarantine and realized

I couldn't do it by myself.

TERRY MEEUWSEN: Yeah.

Cancer treatment is difficult. You

went through some pretty extreme treatment.

You came to a place of faith.

Tell me how your faith impacted this walk that you were on.

I mean, for me it really started,

you know, during a 72-hour quarantine.

I was dizzy and panicked and had just worked myself

into this scared frenzy.

And I laid down in my parents' bathroom

and put my face against the tile.

And after not having prayed for years

and really thought that God was listening, I cried out to Him.

And I said, God, I need you.

I need help.

I can't do this by myself.

TERRY MEEUWSEN: Yeah.

You know, you survived the first bout.

You went on to school and became a teacher.

You got married.

Four more times this attacked you.

How did you keep pressing on?

How did you keep your head up?

How did you say, you know what, this is not going to get me?

ERIN WEIDERMANN: I think that initial prayer was just

the moment that, where I turned to face God,

He was right there to meet me in my place

of complete brokenness.

And, you know, every other bout with cancer since then

has been walked.

You know, He worked on me.

He softened my heart.

I was introduced to my husband, who

was instrumental in helping me understand who God really is.

So it got easier, which is kind of hard to say because cancer

is a hard thing to go through.

But it does get easier when you're walking with the Lord

because you know He has a bigger play at work

that you don't quite understand.

What's your diagnosis today?

I'm five years cancer free.

My last surgery was 2012.

Hallelujah.

Wow.

Wow.

It's awesome.

Did you have moments in the middle of that where you just

felt, even as you were walking in faith--

I mean, five times to have this repeat, a lot of people

would have said, well, this is it.

Yeah.

I think I was a little timid at the beginning

only because I didn't understand how big God is

and just the, I mean, magnitude of what God can do that

is so different than what we can do as people.

You know, we're so small and limited in what

we can do, the way we think.

And just learning more about God and growing

closer together to Him throughout the process

has really sustained me.

And it's given me hope.

ERIN WEIDERMANN: You know, one of the things

you said earlier when you talked about growing up

yourself and walking through some

of the just performance of faith,

one of the things that was real in your life

and in the lives of young women around you

was low self esteem, like just not knowing who you were

and feeling a little buffeted by life.

You've created some amazing books.

Did it come out of that time in your lives?

Yes.

I think Bible Belles was born from a lot

of different experiences but, first and foremost,

my own struggle with insecurity and comparison

and trying to measure up against the world's

definition of beauty.

This is a struggle that girls and teens and women

are going through for generations.

And it's time to do something about it.

ERIN WEIDERMANN: Yeah, I want to talk about these because I

think they're so great.

Of course, I have a granddaughter in my home.

So I'm really excited--

"Hannah, the Belle of Prayer."

You've got "Esther, the Belle of Patience."

I mean, these are beautifully done.

I've read them.

The stories are awesome--

"Abigail, the Belle of Bravery."

What do you want young girls to take away from these books

when they read them?

Bible Belles-- I mean, it's really

about helping girls understand there

is a progression, a journey they can take to grow closer to God

and get into His word.

And that progression is a five-step progression

that we identify in the series.

So it's prayer, patience, bravery, loyalty,

and leadership.

ERIN WEIDERMANN: I love that.

I love that.

You know, I know there are also some people who

are watching right now listening to what you're saying

who are maybe themselves under a diagnosis that's difficult.

What would you say to them?

I would say that placing your faith and trust in God

will give you that peace and that hope for a future

that, right now, maybe it doesn't seem like you can have.

But God's plans are working together for good.

And just because we don't understand what He's doing

doesn't mean He doesn't have a glorious, wonderful, blessed

life in store for you.

So hang onto hope.

ERIN WEIDERMANN: And sometimes, you

know, when you're going through these treatments that

are so difficult and your body is robbed of the ability

to be strong, faith kind of steps in and buoys your spirit

and gives you the courage to keep pressing forth.

That's what I see in your story.

Absolutely.

You know, the lesson of not being

able to do it in your own strength is one I, I mean,

think about daily, you know, and even just in growing a business

and being a new mom and being married.

All these are new, exciting adventures.

But trying to do it in your own strength,

it's not going to be successful.

ERIN WEIDERMANN: Yeah.

It's not the way it's supposed to be.

No!

Jesus says, apart from me, you can do nothing.

That's right.

So, you know, get together with Him

in whatever it is you're experiencing in your life.

Erin's book series of Bible Belles--

it's Bible heroes for girls--

is awesome.

I think you'll really enjoy it.

This one in the series is entitled

"Hanna, the Belle of Prayer."

But there are a number of others.

They're all available where books are sold.

And I just think they're a fun gift.

Put them in your child's Easter basket this year,

a great way to learn about the women of the Bible.

Also, later today, check our Facebook page

for a web-exclusive interview with Erin.

All you have to do is go to facebook.com/700club.

So check that out.

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