Many of you don’t know why I and others started using that hashtag around the middle of August 2019. It’s imperative that I tell this story now as it will build on another blog post that I will release next week.
Back in July, my good friend, Kevin (the one who started the fundraiser for me last year), told me about the upcoming women’s conference at his church, Right Direction Church International in Columbia, SC. He believed that it would be good for me to come down and attend. I remember talking to him and him stating that he believed that God was going to do something for me. So, I was like, “Cool.” I registered for the conference and booked my hotel room.
The conference began on a Thursday evening. The plan was to drive to Columbia Thursday morning. That Monday and Tuesday I received chemo. By Thursday morning, I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to make the short 2.5-hour drive. I was in extreme pain. My legs felt like they were burning. Neuropathy had set in, and I was a mess. It was too late to cancel the hotel reservation, so they were going to charge me for at least one night. But it didn’t matter because I was in agony.
I contacted Kevin to tell him that I probably wasn’t going to make it after all. Now, Kevin is a voice I trust. This goes all the way back to undergrad at Wake Forest University. His faith was on 1,000 and he truly believed that something different, refreshing, and supernatural would take place just for me. Kevin wasn’t pushy but he was persistent that if I could, I should try to muster up the strength to make the drive. He just wanted to see me better.
Eventually, I decided to make the drive. Surprisingly, the drive wasn’t bad at all. I was, however, so exhausted when I arrived. I grabbed something to eat and fell asleep and missed the opening session Thursday night! But God’s plan wasn’t to be derailed.
Friday evening arrives and I pull myself together. I was nervous because I was going to be wearing a face mask. (I tell others that having cancer prepared me for COVID-19. I was already wearing face masks and gloves and have hand sanitizer, bleach, antibacterial soap, Lysol, and toilet tissue in bulk.) The face mask is needed even more so the days after I receive chemo as that’s when my immune system is the most compromised. I felt uncomfortable wearing this bright yellow face mask in front of strangers. Hey, I’m an introvert. I don’t like to stand out!
The church is full as far as my eyes can see. Praise and worship begins. You can feel the anticipation in the air. No one needs to be pumped or primed. I am surrounded by at least 800 hundred women whose only desire is to worship God. Hands are raised; hearts and mouths are crying out to the Lord. As someone who loves corporate worship, this is everything to me. My hands are lifted, and tears are rolling down my face leaving my face mask a wet mess. I’ve been in services before where there’s no doubt God is moving, but there was something unusual about this service. I began to weep because His presence was so tangible. I wanted to get down on my knees and just stay in that place. I could have worshipped forever.
My memory is a little foggy here. Blame that on chemo brain. But I believe it was sometime around the offering when the service shifted. The entire service shifted.
Just. For. Me.
Pastor Marcia Bailey called me out. I stuck out because of the mask, but I also knew that this was different.
Initially, my introverted self wanted to shrink and disappear. But a peace and feeling that I was safe overtook me. She came down off the stage and walked towards me. Prophetess Brenda Todd (the Thursday evening speaker) walked towards me as well. I remember Pastor Marcia asking me what my illness was. Through tears, I told them about the 2 forms of cancer. They began to pray, and before I knew it, all the ladies were standing, worshipping, praising, warring, and pleading with God on my behalf!
Just. For. Me.
Soon, the shouts, cries, and sounds of all 800+ women seemed to disappear, and it was just me and God alone. My focus was on Him. I felt Him in a way that I hadn’t in such a long time. It was overwhelming. I would never be the same. I was coming out of this differently. I didn’t know whether to jump and shout or fall on my face. I remember feeling hands that were holding me up. I felt such a calm and so much love. Oh, how He loves me!
I’m not sure how much time had passed. Surely, 15 or 20 minutes. Maybe more. I didn’t want to leave this place—His presence. I was acutely aware that not only was God working on my spirit, but He was also working on that dreaded disease called cancer. Eventually, I came to myself and finally sat down. However, the ladies in attendance were still going strong glorifying and magnifying the Lord on my behalf.
It stirred something inside of me. Before my mind had time to catch up with my spirit, I was running all over the church. I soon stopped and my feet got light. I began to dance. I didn’t come out of my clothes, but I surely danced like David did. The strength to dance came from the Lord because physically I was drained.
After getting back to my seat, they tried to move the service along, but it was to no avail. By now, I would say that maybe 45 minutes had passed. Pastor Marcia asked me to come up front, and I told everyone about my cancer fight. As much as I “talk” about my journey on social media, this was the first time I spoke about it aloud to a group of people. I don’t remember all that I said; God was speaking through me. But I do remember repeating “I believe I am healed.” Pastor Marcia asked me my name and then others began chanting “Tia Cooke is healed.”
I have no idea what happened the rest of the service. After I returned to my seat, I took off my face mask and put on another, only to have that one soaking wet quicker than the first. I was in awe that God chose to interrupt the service for me—to let me know that even in the midst of all the challenges, sorrow, and pain, He has not forsaken me. I am on His mind! And, He chose to do this publicly in a room full of people I didn’t know to show me that I am not alone.
Despite all that has happened since then, these two things remain: Tia Cooke is healed, and if He did it for me, He’ll do it for you!