Anne Hartslief’s faith that her body was a temple was shattered by an unexpected cancer diagnosis. Here she explains how she began to love herself again. 


Source: Supplied

I’m a mother of two children, wife and a business owner. I’m goal directed and ambitious. I had openly declared to friends that I was pursuing what I had termed: “next level health”. The robust plan around “next level health” including trauma release exercises, going to a functional fitness class two to three times a week, running at least twice a week as well as stretching and doing yoga. The strength of my physical fitness mirrored the degree of strength I felt in my life. In fact, I would often say to myself: “The stronger I become the stronger I am because of the great I am (Jesus).” 

So my cancer diagnosis on September 16, 2022 following a routine mammogram came in what felt like the prime of my life. I was at my physical and mental peak doing my most purpose-filled professional work in building businesses that matter. I had no idea that a routine screening was about to change my world as I knew it - stage two lobular breast cancer with two tumours. Was all I had invested in and believed about my personal growth my own fabrication?

I no longer believed that my body was a temple. How could it be with cancer inside of me?

With the first major obstacle of a double mastectomy surgery behind me, I was internally gloating a little in the fact that I was recovering at a remarkable pace (albeit not without pain and challenge) and was returning back to my new normal but still feeling so far from being fully alive.

And then one Sunday morning in January it hit me. I no longer believed that my body was a temple. I no longer believed it could ever be a temple. How could it be with cancer inside of me? My logic was telling me that a temple cannot be frail, battered or broken. Temples are not established or housed in something that is dying. I returned to the bible verse (1 Corinthians 6:19-20,) in the hope that God would shift my perspective. Despite being a Christian for most of my life and knowing the biblical theory, this inner belief felt immovable. My body was broken. 

I knew that I needed to choose to worship God despite my inner reality.

I shared this thinking with my husband. Knowing my rebellious and sometimes obstinate spirit, he didn’t try to fix my thinking or persuade me differently but he did return me gently back to scripture by sending me a message that said: “Your body is a LIVING sacrifice. Holy and pleasing to God.”

In that moment, I knew that I needed to choose to worship God despite my inner reality. From this place of worship, God started opening me slowly to a new reality. I embarked on a challenge of hiking the 13 peaks of Cape Town which has got me out into nature. It enabled me to find stillness in God’s creation. My journey toward healing is leading me to discover the true meaning of strength, agility and authenticity. I am learning that my body is not just a shell but a temple deserving of reverence and care - that’s kingdom level health.