Stacy Voss

See life differently. Live courageously.

When Suffering Leads to Identity

“I hate cancer and I hate what it’s doing, but I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything.”

Those were the words (or close to it) that my former boss said in a sermon he co-preached on suffering last night. He spoke the words while putting some pressure on the trach that was inserted into his throat, a result of the stage four thyroid cancer that wreaked havoc on his vocal cords.


I’ve never battled cancer (thankfully), but there are some incredible heroes in my life that have, all of whom share one great commonality: fluff became a thing of the past. Spiritual cliches were retired once and for all, replaced by a deep-rooted faith, a confident knowing of the One who clutched their hand through the hardest of times.

My friend and author, Michele Cushatt, is another example of these real-life heroes whose faith might have wavered at times during her horrific bouts with cancer, but ultimately strengthened into a living, breathing belief that oozes out with every lisped word (the lisp as a result of the last round of cancer when the doctors removed a large portion of her tongue). She had been climbing the Christian speaking circuit when she first learned of the cancer in her mouth–one typically found amongst those who chew tobacco, although she’s never touched the stuff. I can’t begin to fathom all that she went through emotionally, physically and spiritually, yet my mind keeps recalling one scene I lived many, many years ago after learning of my husband’s infidelity.

We had been missionaries and his actions cost him (us) our job. Returning to the states, I began taking 13 keys off my keychain. I no longer needed the key to the house we rented in Mexico, or the gates securing that property, or to our car that was about to be given away, or anything else. Within minutes, I went from toting a heavy, rattling set of keys to an empty “0.” That’s how I felt–empty, hollow and purposeless.

Who am I?

Sure, I knew I was more than a car-key wielding person, but each little piece of metal seemed to hold a portion of my identity that got tossed in the trash.

I’d imagine that’s how Michele felt, too, as the thought of speaking again seemed to disappear.

Or as her hair disappeared.

Or as her ability to do many of the normal, everyday things plummeted.

And she, too, had to ask, “Who am I?”

Her answer will astound you. No, scratch that. It isn’t truly her answer. Yes, she wrote the book “I Am: A 60-Day Journey to Knowing Who You Are Because of Who He Is,” but the words were scribed many, many years ago. Michele just brings them to life for those of us who have gotten tangled in the infinite things that try convincing us that our value is less than it really is. Here are but a few little peeks at what you get to uncover during the 60-day journey with Michele:

-I am heard

-I am sinful

-I am lost

-I am renewed

-I am fought for (oh, mercy, yes!)

– I am empowered

-I am enough

Amazing, right? It is!

This incredible book releases January 24th. BUT, if you pre-order (as in today!), then you get a bunch of freebies, too! You can go to for more info or to grab a copy. Or, your fav bookstore should have it in stock in the next few days (but of course, if you wait, you won’t get all of the great extras!).

If you ever ask “who am I”, this book is for you! If you’ve never asked that question, well, I’m just stumped because I’ve honestly never met anyone who hasn’t, myself included!

Happy reading!

Stacy Voss



  1. I am an 8 year ovarian cancer survivor and can so well relate to the emotions and statements made by you and Michele. I look at cancer as a challenge no different than any number of challenges (personal, financial, faith, abuse, etc) a person can face in a life time. I believe that we are to learn and grow to become better people from these challenges. I have written about my experience with cancer and how I coped with it in my award winning book, Outshine: An Ovarian Cancer Memoir. I also have a weekly blog ( where I write about health/wellness, relationships, and spirituality. I invite you to follow me there and perhaps write a guest blog there.

    • Stacy

      January 23, 2017 at 9:08 pm

      Hi Karen,

      Wow! Your statement about cancer being the same as many other challenges we face just baffles me. I fully get it and yet I fully don’t. I’m heading over to your blog right now. Thanks so much for telling me about it!

  2. Beautiful post, Stacy. You know well the struggle to know who you are … you have stood in the fire and come out strong! Only Jesus. Much love to you, friend.

    • Stacy

      January 23, 2017 at 9:06 pm

      Oh, friend, I can’t imagine the pain and love that you poured out while writing I Am. It truly is such an incredible book. Thank you for using your gifts–and the suffering you faced in a way I can’t imagine–so that we can get a better taste at who we are as a result of the ultimate sufferer’s gift for us. Love you, friend and I’m so, so proud of you!

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