How Cancer Changed Me for Good


Today marks a major milestone in the cancer battle. Two years ago today I walked out of Kaiser Sunset Hospital in Hollywood, CA with a set of well-cooked lungs—the occasion of my last radiation treatment. After ten months of diagnosis, tests, chemotherapy, and radiation—it was finally over. I will never forget that moment. I was weak but I wanted to leap. I was alone but I felt as though God was walking down that side-walk right by my side cheering me on.

I had a 2-year check up this week and my doctor gave me a clear report. With Hodgkins Lymphoma, 80% of recurrences happen within the first two years. So, today is a major milestone. I rejoice personally, and thank the Lord for choosing to extend my life.

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God PET Scan Results!

If you or someone you love had cancer, then you know the “back of your mind” tension and subconscious emotion that goes into a regular PET scan. I had my 12 month scan on Tuesday. While I didn’t have any symptoms or reason to think cancer was recurring, I still found myself wondering about God’s plan based on “what if…”

My doctor called yesterday and said it was completely clean! This was a fantastic answer to prayer and a great release of emotion that I wasn’t fully aware were hiding “underneath” all of life’s busyness. I have officially crossed the 12 month mark with no cancer. That’s a GREAT milestone.

Now, for our family… it’s on to Connecticut to being the work at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Newington! We leave southern California on Monday morning.

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Health Update

I am frequently asked, “How’s your health?” or “How are you doing?” So here’s a quick update with what’s going on.

My last scan—in early February was cancer free. This is wonderful, incredible, blessed news; and I believe it’s due to many faithful friends who pray for me often. Thank you!

Recovery from treatment is still a work in progress. I feel like I’m about 80-85% back to normal. Someone told me last week that they felt I was more like 70% back—just from watching my energy levels, etc. As of this writing, I’m 10 months out of treatment. The doctors originally told me that recovery would take about 18 months. Also friends who had Hodgkins have told me the same thing—I won’t feel completely “back” until 18 months after treatment. So—just 8 more months to go!

The three most noticeable hold-over effects from treatment are as follows:
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resurrection hope

Before the resurrection, there is a cross. Dark. Death. Hopeless.

Before the rainbow, there is a storm. Howling. Desolate. Destructive.

Before the sunrise, there is night. Lonely. Black. Cold.

Before Spring, there is Winter. Frigid. Barren. Bitter.

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6 Month PET Scan Tomorrow…

Six months have passed since treatment, and tomorrow brings with it a very important scan. The PET scan will reveal if there is any recurrence of Hodgkins happening in my chest. I have no reason to believe it’s back.

It’s a strange feeling to be at this point, and hanging on the news of an important test. BUT, I also realize that in all likelihood, the cancer won’t be back. Would you join us in praying to that end. I believe God healed me, and yet I’m willing to venture into whatever His will is.

Sometime around noon I should know something, and will post it on twitter.

As far as recovery is going—I still battle weakness and fatigue, especially during long days, but generally every week is better than the last. My lungs are gradually getting stronger.

Thank you for your prayers!

UPDATE: The scan was completely clear and the doctor said there were no concerns whatsoever. This was AWESOME news! Thanks for praying!

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He’s never even dropped a pizza!

Earlier this week I was drying my hands in an airport restroom when I overheard a conversation between a father and his two-year-old son. Dad was handling diaper duty and he had placed his son on one of those flimsy, plastic changing tables that fold down in public restrooms. The boy, being at the size limit for one of those tables, was nervously feeling the inherent instability of this device—which was producing some crying and anxiety.

Through moans of uncertainty and nervousness the boy hesitatingly said, “Ohhhhh… me not like this…” his tones were long and drawn, and then he continued, “I gonna fall…”

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Blessings and Scans…

This is just a quick update for many people who have asked or have stated that they are praying for me.

First, the good news. This has been a fantastic Christmas season for our family, and health wise, I’m doing well. My chest has stayed clear and my body free of illness this season—which is a major blessing in light of the past Winter seasons of sickness. The two major impacts of cancer and treatments that remain are lung strength and physical weakness/energy management. My lungs are slightly better with each passing week, but still not back to normal. And I’m still physically weak at times. My exercise routine is ramping up, so that should improve things quickly.

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Merry Christmas from a 4-Year-Old

This is a repost from my encouraging words blog. A friend of mine who serves the Lord at the BBN Radio Network sent me this link to the Christmas story told by a four-year-old little girl. It blessed our family. It will captivate you from the first word! Merry Christmas!

This was recorded and is available on CD from Jeff Apthorp, Sound Amazing Studios. The little girl is Valerie Apthorp, Jeff’s daughter. She was four at the time and is now 18, preparing to be a missionary. Much thanks to Tim Young for sending this!

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dear Lord, thank you…

Heavenly Father,

Thank you for your love and for my salvation in Christ. My life and destiny would be utter, hopeless despair were it not for the cross of Jesus and your amazing grace! I thank you for redeeming me by the precious blood of Christ. Thank you for making me your child.

Thank you for your Word. It is the foundation of truth for everything that is blessed and good in my life. I have never regretted obeying it, but I have regretted not knowing it better. There is nothing better in life than opening its pages and hearing from you.

Thank you for my family. Not only did you allow me to grow up with godly and loving influences, you then blessed me with a wife and children who mean more to me than life. They convict me to become more like Jesus. Dana reminds me Jesus in her caring and loving servant’s heart. Lance reminds me of Jesus in his tenderness toward people and joyful nature. Larry reminds me of Jesus in his humor and his diligent, quiet intensity about things that are important. Haylee reminds me of Jesus in her kindness, sincerity, and desire for understanding. Thank you for allowing me to share life with them.

Thank you for my church and pastor. Thank you for a loving, growing church family led by a faithful, godly man who loves your truth and loves people. It is an awesome joy and privilege to be a part of Lancaster Baptist Church.

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Getting the Portacath Removed!

Friday was a HUGE day in the cancer battle! It was the day I have been marking in my mind for a year—the day that a surgeon would remove my portacath. I had expected to keep it longer, but at my last appointment, my doctor said we could go ahead and take it out. This was a great blessing—primarily because I just hated having that thing in my body (while being grateful for it at the same time.)

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Recovery Update

It’s been an eventful couple of weeks, so I wanted to give a quick update. Every week, lots of friends and family ask “How are you feeling?” And the second most common greeting is, “Hey, you look good!” Dana looked at me once and said, “Don’t let it go to your head…” I laughed and replied, “Dana, all that really means is, ‘you don’t look as horrific as you did a few months ago!’” We both laughed!

Last week, the Lord allowed me to visit my parents, grandparents, and brother’s family in Florida. It was a nice break and a good chance for my extended family to see me in a healthy condition. We made some good memories and celebrated by parents’ birthdays. The photo above is taken from my parents’ backyard at sunset. It was nice to sit along the water and spend time with the Lord during the week.

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it’s been a year…

One year ago yesterday, I found out I had cancer. This week has been surreal. I have played the life-changing events of this week (one year ago) in my mind over and over this week. It would be impossible to describe in words what this year has meant to our family.

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I’m sitting at McDonald’s again this morning. Not sure why cancer left me with an appetite for pancakes, but I literally dreamed last night that I was eating pancakes. So… here I am, prep’ing for the day and enjoying pancakes.

The past few weeks have been good—very good. With the exception of my lungs and some energy management, I truly feel like my system is getting back to normal. Here are some blessings of recent days…

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lung damage and recovery

We had a very good, one-hour appointment with my radiologist in Hollywood this past Monday. He answered a lot of questions and helped me understand where I am and why I’m feeling the way I do. Here’s the short version:

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how we keep our marriage fresh

When Dana and I were engaged, there was one thing we dreaded—someday becoming one of those married couples that appear to barely tolerate each other. You know—those couples who never even hold hands or exude joy in being together. We vowed to each other that we would do everything within our power to resist the trends and habits that take a couple gradually down the path to boredom, mediocrity, and relational monotony. Not even knowing what it would require, we vowed to each other to “keep the romance.”

Twenty-two years later, we’re winning the battle so far. I realize we have a long ways to go, but I sat down last night and made a list of things I think God has used between us to help us resist the normal drift apart that many couples experience. Here goes:

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