Janelle Hail knows firsthand what it means to struggle with fear, doubt, and spiritual uncertainty: diagnosed with breast cancer at age 34, she came face to face with her own mortality. But in turning to the Bible and her faith in Jesus Christ, she found the strength to press on—and she’s gone on to encourage thousands of others facing cancer through the National Breast Cancer Foundation, which she founded.
One of our driving goals at Bible Gateway is to help people see the value and importance of bringing God’s Word into their everyday lives. We asked Janelle to talk about her relationship with the Bible as she faced challenge after challenge. Here is her story, along with the specific Bible passages that she relied upon.
Your Journey Through the Bible Reveals Your Destiny
A guest post by Janelle Hail
Under the semi-smooth layer of her hair was a bleached-blond tangled web trying to support her poufy hairstyle of the 60’s. At a time in fashion when school girls had to dress alike and look alike, there was little left to individuality.
Sarah and I were in several classes together in junior high school. As much as she tried to be identical to the other girls, she seemed to meander away from fashion. The snobbish girls in school made fun of her hair because she could never get the messy mass covered by the straight layer of perfection that the other girls achieved.
When others talked about her behind her back, I struggled to find something positive about her, but always came up with some insignificant comment. It never seemed right to me to gang up on her behind her back because she was different.
On rare occasions I sat at lunch with Sarah to make her feel good about herself. She tried to be acceptable to the others, but her philosophy of life was more tangled than her hair. From the time she was a small child, her parents gave her no training on the values of life. Whatever religious ideas she came up with were fine with her parents. Each to their own was their family motto.
Sarah and I had long conversations, but there were so many roadblocks that held her back from understanding the importance of studying the Bible. My background was engrained with teachings from the Bible, led by my mother, who fought her way through a fractured marriage to train her children in the ways of the Lord. She gave my brother and me understanding of God’s great love by making sure we knew His life-saving truths. “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Psalm 73:26).
As I grew into a young woman, my greatest desire was to please the Lord and follow after Him. After years of marriage and children, I faced the life-threatening disease of breast cancer. At the crossroad of decision of how I would deal with the rest of my life after breast cancer, I leaned heavily on things I had grown to love about the Bible’s teachings. “Shout for joy, you heavens; rejoice, you earth; burst into song, you mountains! For the LORD comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones” (Isaiah 49:13).
A deep yearning of my heart to help those who were needy and cast aside by breast cancer led me to found the National Breast Cancer Foundation in 1991. Today we serve millions of women and families ravaged by breast cancer and provide free mammograms across the nation to those who cannot afford help, as well as educational resources for early detection. “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3).
I am a thirty-three year breast cancer survivor, living a happy and fulfilled life. One of the greatest honors of my life has been to write the foreward for the new NIV Pink Bible, to tell others of God’s love and hope that they can have a life filled with happiness in serving the Lord. “The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped” (Psalm 28:7).
Your story is undoubtedly different than Janelle’s—you’ve faced, and are facing, your own challenges. Is God’s Word a constant companion to you as you make your way through life’s ups and downs? Are there Bible verses that have acquired a special meaning for you when you were struggling? If not, why not consider inviting God’s Word into your daily routine?
Janelle Hail is the Founder & CEO of the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc. (NBCF), one of the most highly recognized and respected breast cancer charities in the world. You can hear more about her powerful testimony at the I Am Second project. The NIV Pink Bible—which she mentioned above, and to which she contributed the foreward—is available as this week’s Bible Gateway Bookperk offer.