Through this blog many of you are getting to know me fairly well. You have heard my heart and walked with me through suffering. Along with continued blog posts on our journey with cancer, I want you to get to know Sarah and I from a brighter and happier side.
One thing to know about me is that I am obsessed with books. Before I went overseas I had a library of close to 1000 books but gave them away. Now being back in America for five years, I have a personal library of over 1000 books once again. I don’t just collect books; I try my best to read them. To be honest, my reading habits cannot keep up with my book buying habits, but I do read a lot. To give you a glimpse into my life, here are books I have either read or am currently reading this summer. I would love to know what you are reading.
*Note: the picture of the library is obviously not mine, it belongs to George Lucas. Maybe one day!
The Discovery of France by Graham Robb
The Insanity of God by Nik Ripken
Preach by Mark Dever and Greg Gilbert
Everyone has been asking me if we plan to keep this website going now that our battle the with cancer is over. The answer is yes. Sarah and I plan to keep the site going with the details of our life- cancer check ups, our crazy world travels, devotional thoughts and the like. We have felt so loved by the sheer number of people who have followed our blog and hope that people continue to follow our journey.
It has been three weeks since my abdominal surgery and I have been recovering better and faster than the doctors expected. I started back to work full-time this week and as you might imagine I am overjoyed to be back. I love my job and love investing in things that have eternal significance. I am finding it a bit hard to jump back in- where do I start? where do I invest my time? Pray that I can use my time well and get back in the swing of things.
Several of you have been asking me how cancer has changed me- what are the greatest lessons I have learned? Believe it or not I have found this to be a hard question to answer. One of the major ways I have coped with tragedy and suffering in my life has been to lay it at the feet of Christ and to move on, rarely thinking about it again. Not that I avoid it but I truly process it and then move on. This has worked well with most things in life, but with cancer I do not want to completely forget the journey. My greatest desire in all this is to be changed for the better. To be a man shaped more into the image of Christ through my sufferings and trials. In order for that to happen, I need to take time away to process life over the last four months. The week of July 8-12 Sarah and I are going to get away for a few days up in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky. We plan to stay in a small cabin that overlooks a beautiful lake. Please put this on your calendar and pray for us as we seek the Lord, pray together, journal, read and ask God to allow us to think back and let change set in. I will update everyone on what God teaches us through this time.
Also, please pray for my brother Jason who just went through open heart surgery to fix a collapsed aorta. He has been extremely sick for months and we hope this surgery will be the first step to recovery. Pray for his heart and eyes to be opened to God’s love for him and that he would grow in that love through this trial.
On Tuesday I underwent a surgery at Indiana University Medical Center to remove what cancer was remaining in my body. The remaining tumor was in the middle of my abdomen right under my heart making it hard to get to. Our surgeon, Dr. Foster, had to make an incision from 3 inches below my belly button to the bottom of my sternum, 14 inches in all. Once he was in, he had to remove the tumor, the lymph node above and below the tumor and the inferior vena cava connected to the heart that was totally blocked by blood clots.
The surgery went exceptionally well. So well in fact, I was up out of the bed after 24 hours and after just 4 days I was back home from the hospital. I am home now sitting in bed most of the day trying to recover. Sarah and I are both so thankful the surgery went well and that our journey through this is almost over.
The big news came on Wednesday when Dr. Foster came to my room to let us know that I was totally CANCER FREE! He took out the tumor and after testing it realized all that remained was scar tissue. It will take me weeks to recover from this surgery but my battle with cancer is over. The victory has been won. I am a cancer survivor.
In high school and college I was a wrestler. I lived and breathed the sport. There were only a few times in my wrestling career that I came up against an opponent so far superior to myself that I knew I did not stand a chance. Facing such an opponent did not mean I gave up. I would fight with all I had. More times than not I would leave the match a loser, but knowing I had given it my all. My battle with cancer seemed like a whole different beast. Many days it felt like my cancer ridden body was trying to fight it out with a 700 lb. grizzly bear. But just like those wrestling matches, I did not give up. The difference was that this time I left the match a victor. Through the grace of God and the community that surrounded me, the grizzly fell and I remained standing. Praise God who gives strength that far surpasses my own!
A big thank you goes out to all those who have fought this fight with us: our families, our church, our friends, fellow pastors and all those who have loved us so well. We are praising God for answering your prayers! I should be back to normal by July and will have monthly cancer checks to make sure the cancer stays away.
We are praising God for His grace to us. Nathan’s surgery went well and his spirits have been good as he begins the road to recovery. He told me this morning that he had trouble sleeping for more than a few minutes at a time last night but every time he woke up he was just thankful for God’s goodness and praising Him. Nathan was able to get out of bed for a few minutes and sit in a chair this morning. That seemed like a big accomplishment considering the giant incision he has in his abdomen. Both the doctors and nurses were impressed with his progress. Thank you so much for praying for him during this operation. We have been told numerous times since we arrived that this surgery is not a small thing. We were also told yesterday that Nathan’s doctor does this operation several times a day and the distance we traveled is one of the shortest they have seen in a while. They said most people travel much further to have Dr. Foster do their surgery. We definitely see God’s provision in having both the leading doctor for testicular cancer and the leading surgeon for this specific operation within a few hours from our home.
Recovery will take about six weeks so this journey is not over yet. The mass that was removed yesterday has been sent for a pathology report but we will not receive the results for about a week. So please keep praying that the report will bring good news. With a good report they will be able to declare Nathan cancer free. Otherwise, there is the possibility of two more rounds of chemo or an additional operation. Please pray for Nathan’s recovery as well. He will be in a lot of pain the more he begins getting up and moving around. Pray for patience as he is forced to have several weeks of rest and inactivity.
Currently we are at IU Health University Hospital, 550 University Blvd. Indianapolis, IN in Room 6831W. They are hoping to send us home on Friday or Saturday depending on Nathan’s progress.
In February I was diagnosed with the last stage of testicular cancer. The first two months of that time I was in the hospital and the month after that I was finishing up chemo. It has been a long hard battle but my health is slowly returning. Thank you to all those who have been praying.
Tomorrow morning I will have surgery to remove the remaining tumor below my heart and all the lymph nodes around it. This will be a fairly long and invasive surgery. The surgery will take place at Indiana University Hospital in Indianapolis. We should be in the hospital for 5-7 days and then be at home recovering for 4 to 6 weeks. I would ask that you continue to pray for Sarah and I and if you are up for it, I would also ask that you fast for us breakfast tomorrow.
Starting Wednesday, we will be welcoming visitors at the hospital. Thank you again for all you guys have done to show us the love of Christ.