I knew. I just knew, when I received the call from my dermatologist office just a few short days after having a biopsy done on a spot on my back, I knew that is was cancer. I wasn’t supposed to hear back for a few weeks, but they called to have me come in to see the dermatologist right away.
I knew exactly what he was going to say. Sure enough, he explained that I had a sizeable melanoma and that surgery would be required to remove it. He would refer me right away to a plastic surgeon and they would do everything they could as fast as possible. I thanked him and went on my merry way; not really getting a sense of the seriousness of my situation.
I told my wife when I picked her up from work that it was cancer and that a plastic surgeon was going to just cut it off. To give you some perspective, I am very naïve when it comes to health matters. I told her that it wasn’t a big deal and I wanted to stay positive.
I told very few people, but those I did tell greeted me with the same reaction – “I am so sorry to hear that.” I would respond with a smile and say, “It was no big deal – just slice it off and put a Band-Aid on it! I will be fine.”
Within a month, I met with the plastic surgeon and the date had been set to have my surgery. He explained that he would remove the melanoma along with taking my lymph nodes in two different areas. They would test the lymph nodes to determine if the cancer had spread to those areas. I remember asking him, “How serious is this anyway?” He looked at me and said, “This is as serious as it gets for me.” He said that I was his top priority and the surgery would be done in 3 or 4 weeks.
The surgery came and went and I was now the new owner of 3 scars. I still, at this point, had no real concept of how serious this was. I then met with the surgeon and he gave me the great news that the lymph nodes came back negative. He said that I was very lucky as the melanoma I had was very deep but they were successful in removing it. “Thank you God,” I reacted!
A few weeks later, I ran into my family doctor at the grocery store. She immediately gave me a hug and told me how sorry she was. She is not the touchy/feely type and this reaction from her surprised me. Wow, this must have been more serious than I thought. I went right home and researched the cancer.org website. I was not prepared for what I read:
Really…I have only about a 40% chance of living past 10 years?!
The next few months we very difficult for me. Physically, I was spared from any pain as a result of my cancer. Mentally, however, it was a painful process. What do I do with my life? Do I continue to save for retirement? Will I see my children graduate? I had many questions!
As I went through this journey I gained perspective and I began to let God into more of my life. As I gave God more of me, His plan for my life began to reveal itself and I began to listen instead of trying to figure things out on my own. I had been running from God’s plan for many years but even though I was running away, He was still preparing me for His plan.
You see, having cancer gave me the opportunity to get closer to God. He had to do something dramatic so that I would fall to my knees and surrender to Him. God called me to full-time ministry with Operation Christmas Child. I am thankful for His grace, patience and His hand of protection over me. I am now closer to Him than I have ever been in my life and I have a strong desire to know Him better every day.
I now have the privilege to lead an amazing group of Christians spreading the Gospel to millions of children through the simple act of packing a shoebox. I can think of no greater joy than this! I can honestly say that I am grateful to God for the cancer scare.
I do not know what the future holds, but my trust in Him grows stronger every day and my resolve to serve Him until my last breath could not be any stronger. I pray each day that He will use me as He desires. “Here I am, send me!” (Isaiah 6:8)
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