Nancy Buffalow is a retired CPA and current watercolor artist. She and her husband Ed, a retired architect, have two adult children, a lovely daughter-in-law and a cute little grandson. They live in the Issaquah home that Ed designed nearly 40 years ago. They both love to garden, travel and encourage people in their faith.

Photo above: Watercolor class self-portrait assignment


It was a crisp, fall day in 2019. My husband, Ed, and I were living in our home during a major remodel. We decided it would be better to be onsite during the work, but it was quite challenging to actually live amidst the chaos. Our floors were down to bare plywood, we were camping in our daughter’s old room and most of our belongings were either in the garage or in one of two storage pods parked in the driveway.

On this particular day, I received a phone call from my doctor. Dodging the various tradesmen in our home, I found a quiet spot upstairs only to hear the words, “Your biopsy came back positive for breast cancer”. My heart pounded as I took in the news, and I thought “Please, not this…not now.”

Celebrating our grandson’s first birthday

The period of initial shock was followed by weeks and weeks of medical appointments and tests. I spent a lot of time waiting. My doctors had full schedules, so I had to wait to get in to see them. There was time waiting outside their offices and time waiting at home for test results. To keep my anxiety at bay during all this waiting, I wrote down Psalm 23 and turned to it often. It begins, “The Lord is my shepherd. I have all that I need.” I remember letting those words sink in which brought me peace.

The Lord is my shepherd. I have all that I need.

Psalm 23:1

I think the most important truth, though, during this time was what I’d remembered hearing from one of my pastors. He said that when you go through hard times God will draw near to you and will bring others alongside to help you.

I did feel God’s presence through His truth in the Bible and during worship services. There were two particular songs that touched me deeply and reminded me of God’s care. One was “Take Courage” by Kristene DiMarco with these lyrics:

Take courage my heart
Stay steadfast my soul
He’s in the waiting
He’s in the waiting

Hold onto your hope
As your triumph unfolds
He’s never failing
He’s never failing

The other song was “Stand in Your Love” by Josh Baldwin. It brought tears to my eyes in church when we all sang the lyrics, “My fear doesn’t stand a chance when I stand in your love.”

I was new to the role of Anchor treasurer at the time. I thought it was important to let Katie — our founder and director — know about my medical challenge, so she’d be prepared in case I wasn’t able to cover my usual tasks. I remember her not being worried about my work but rather much more concerned that people were praying for me. So, she prayed for me and encouraged me to reach out to our Board Chair, Kathleen, who often prays deeply for people.

Kathleen invited me to a special worship service where people come forward for prayer for all sorts of needs. Kathleen and another team prayed for me. I had the distinct sense afterwards that God was waiting for me at the end of this challenge and that all would be well.

As my surgery date arrived people came forward with all sorts of practical help and encouragement. One friend organized people to bring meals. One couple, longtime dear friends who are both in the medical field, helped us navigate the process. Another wonderful couple sat with my husband while he waited during my five-hour surgery. And because the Anchor is a very relational, caring ministry at its heart, every board member sent me a special something: a card, tea, a fun book to read and flowers.

What I learned by this experience was that, yes, God does bring people to come alongside us during hard times, but we do need to let people know what we are going through and allow them to care.

I’m one who tries to be self-sufficient, but I’ve become more and more certain that we’re created to be in community and to be a blessing to one another. I do know that having so many people encircle me during my health challenge inspired me to be there for others when they are going through their own difficult times.

Written by Nancy Buffalow for The Anchor Journal