If you haven't read the first part of my story, please do! This would make much more sense.
The Darkest Days
I had to go through four sessions of chemo. Each session was one week long, with a three week break in-between. Each day of the session I had to sit in a chair and have toxic goop pumped into me. After three weeks my hair fell out. It was not too bad at first, but it built up after each session. It got to the point where I could not get out of bed. I was soooo weak and nauseated, all the time. They gave me medicine, but that never worked.
I remember lying in bed, not able to sleep, not able to get that sick feeling out of me no matter what I could do. I felt myself dying and it was horrible. My wife at the time was 9 months pregnant. She was taking care of me, our 1 year old and herself. It was a total NIGHTMARE. I wanted to help her so much, but I could barely move. My second son was born during my last chemo session. She was so tired, trying to heal and still taking care of me. My pride was gone, I was totally humbled.
Through this whole situation God continued to show us that he was still there - little miracles here and there. It was little things that gave us hope. Some days seemed so much darker than others, with little spurts of sunshine, just enough to know we were not alone. I was in awe. Indeed, I could write a whole other story of all the things the Lord did for us at this time to let us know we were not alone.
More Set Backs
I started Chemotherapy in November and had my last session in the middle of January. I was sooo sick and weak. Even with that, the doctors were amazed at my progress and that I was not hospitalized. They told me I was on one of the most intensive chemo treatments there was and that patients are almost always hospitalized toward the end of it. We think a lot of the juicing we did helped prepare my body for the toxic chemicals, but of course, we give all the Glory to the Lord.
We had thought that would be the end of it. The road we traveled already was long and tiring, and we thought we were almost through. But we were wrong. It seemed like we would take two steps forward then get pushed back five. I got my tumor markers checked again, and we were hoping for zero tumor markers. They were at 1700. The Cancer was still there and worst, could start spreading again. Another Cat scan showed the tumor about the size of a softball around my left kidney had not been affected by the Chemo, along with lots of other tumors throughout my lymph node system. While the Chemo did kill almost all the other cancer, it barely touched these tumors. I would need an intense surgery to get them out.
It is so hard to explain how I felt. We thought we were at the end of this, through the dark tunnel. We came out of that tunnel into only to go into another one. The thought of dying was more prevalent that ever. I was so discouraged. We had nowhere to turn but the Lord. I felt as if I had every ounce of strength squeezed out of me, every ounce of my faith tested and still I had a marathon to run. When I told my family, their faces were grim, like they were already looking at a dead man. I went to bed in tears that night, totally humbled, totally lost.
Light At The End Of The Tunnel
We had to wait a couple months before I was strong enough to have the surgery. The surgery was intense. It was called RPLND . The doctor doing the surgery was one of the best in the United States. Again, a miracle from the Lord. So in March of 2007, up at OHSU in Portland I went in for surgery. The operation took over 12 hours, of which was only supposed to be four to six hours. They had to remove my left kidney and many other tumors in my lymph system and my lymph nodes, plus a couple more they did not see in the cat scans.
They had cut me from the bottom of my belly, up to my chest and then straight across my left side to my back. Recovery from that was very hard. The first time I had my staples taken out, my belly started opening up. Scared to death, we rushed to the emergency room where they could not do anything about it, just pack the hole with gauze and let it heal itself. One very positive thing that happened out of this was about two weeks after the surgery the military VA contacted me and wanted to discuss disability benefits. The timing could not have been more perfect. After seeing me in my current condition they pushed a process that usually took two years, into a couple months. We started receiving disability payments from the military soon afterwards.
After the surgery, my tumor markers went back down to zero. All traces of cancer were gone. Praise God.
So many positive things have happened because of this Cancer. Those were some very very dark days, and we could have never imagined the blessings that were to come out of those dark days.
The Thorn in My Side
It has been over four years now and I am still cancer free. Praise the Lord! But I have picked up a nasty side effect, left over from the Chemo. Something called ITP and it will be with me for the rest of my life. My body is destroying its own platelets about as fast as they can be produced. Normal counts are around 250k, mine have been between 11k and 40k. Anything below 20k , and you are at risk to just spontaneously start bleeding internally. In some ways, it has been scarier than the cancer, because with cancer at least you have somewhat of a timetable. ITP could kill you at anytime. But that’s ok. I have accepted this from the Lord, something that will always keep me on my toes and knees.
In The End..
All you can do is live each day to its fullest, trust in the Lord and let him lead you. Looking back now, I don’t think I ever felt the Lords presence so strongly in my life than those of the darkest days when I was at my worst laying in bed sick
. Those days when my wife and I had no hope, absolutely drained. Those darkest days were usually the closest I have ever felt the hand of God in my life.
Think about it, if you were told you were going to die in one year, how would you change your life? In some ways it’s very much a blessing, because for some, they never get that kind of warning.
So we come to the end, which is the beginning of this site, Unity in Grace. This site has been a long time coming, something all for the Lord. I really hope it glorifies the Lord and at the same time is helpful to his church.
Prologue - About Getting Sick With Cancer
The question I have asked myself many times, as does everyone else, is why did I get cancer? Being sick was one thing, but it affected all those around me, especially my wife and kids, and that is what bothered me the most. Being sick, I had lots of time to try to think of answers:
The Lord is using sickness for a greater purpose:
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose
For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure”
Maybe the Lord is strengthening our faith for something in the future, or maybe we need a kick in the behind:
"Now for a little while you may have to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold, which though perishable is tested by fire, may redound to praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ."
1 Peter 1:6-7
"My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord . . . for the Lord disciplines him whom he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives . . . If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children . . . he disciplines us for our good that we may share his holiness . . . Pursue holiness without which no one will see the Lord."
Hebrews 12:5-10, 14
“And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness”
2 Corinthians 12:9
It could be for any one of those reasons, maybe all, but I think it is not our place to think of answers. The “why’s” or “how’s” seem to cloud the real purpose of our struggles. In truth, we should just live each day, one day at a time, to its fullest. The verse we settled on was this - the “catch all” verse:
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him, and he will make your paths straight”
That verse is great, but being in the carnal flesh, in the moment, sick, out of energy, day after day after day it gets harder to “lean not on our own understanding” and start losing faith, easily discouraged, especially when you start experiencing more setbacks than steps forward. I believe The Lord gives us four main tools to help us get through those tough times; Prayer, His Word, His Church and our Family. Your family and the Church are there as flesh and blood, working through the Spirit to give you practical applications of His Word and prayer.
So why do things like this happen? I think it is different for everyone. I know for me personally I was in a rut in my life that I could not get out of. Correction was the word of the day, every day. The Lord knew it and so did I. The only way to break me was to have something as serious as cancer to happen. There were many things in my life that needed to be corrected. Sometimes in the moment we don't understand why, it's hard to see the tapestry when at the time were in the thread. So many blessings came from it. I was able to turn my life around, get a degree and build this site, things I never would have done before. All glory to God!
"Count it all joy, my brethren when you meet various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." James 1:2-4