Editor's note: Hilda Swindle is a former community columnist for the E-T. This column, written in 2012, was one of the last columns she submitted. Hilda passed away Sunday and her family asked that we publish this column again. We are happy to do so, and hope her words offer comfort during this time of mourning.

Many times the doctor paints a dark and dreary picture. Describing terrible side effects of treatment and a bleak prognosis. I have decided to take charge, paint a self-portrait.

I want light, in the darkness of my cancer diagnosis. I had to tell my oncologist that I really did not care what the tests said, my Lord is painting this portrait. At every visit he would ask what my level of pain was. At every visit I would assure him that I did not have pain, only mild pressure.

“Just a matter of semantics,” he would say, a matter of interpretation. I resent that! I know what I feel. I feel the spirit of my Lord filling me with peace and determination. That is not pain! Psalm 112:7 (NIV) says “He will have no fear of bad news, his heart is steadfast in trusting in the word.”  

I will paint my portrait using that medium, the medium of the Word.

I studied art history at Tarleton. Art is a study of light and dark. In scripture, Satan is sometimes referred to as the Prince of Darkness. (It pains me to capitalize those words.)

Satan runs at me every day with the darkness of cancer. He says to me “God may heal, but He isn’t healing you.”

That is when I have to bind Satan from me in Jesus’ name. Get out the turpentine Satan, clean your brush, you are done with my portrait!

As I gather my canvas, paints and brushes, my mind begins to sketch.

I begin with the brightest blue sky and a wide ray of sunshine. Like the pictures we all saw as children with Jesus looking down upon us. His face reflecting love, and peace and comfort. I’ll paint my kids and grandkids playing in the tree house we just built. We will have a picnic. Even with the trees full of spring leaves, the sun will warm us. Laughter echoes as the kids tease their PaPa. Our spoiled poodle, Sophie, will drag in firewood for the wiener roast later in the evening.

Even as the day begins to dim, there will still be a ray of sunshine, of hope.

The Prince of Darkness has no place in my picture. There is no sickness and no pain. My picture is full of light.

I’ve read that a cancer survivor should picture the way things were prior to diagnosis.

When you “paint” your self-portrait, do so in a healthy state of mind. When you begin to paint, do not let darkness paint one stroke on your canvas. Paint life.