Saturday, December 29, 2012

Being Transparent

I went running on a busy street close to my house today.  I did most of the running on the street, although I frequently had to run on the shoulder of the road to get out of the way of passing cars.  As I was running on the shoulder, I noticed several items that had been thrown out of cars recently.  More specifically, there were lots of beer cans and an occasional empty pack of cigarettes.  Apparently the consumers of these items felt they needed to get rid of the evidence before they reached their appointed destinations, whether it was the local high school or maybe even their own homes.  In other words, they were ashamed to be found with such items in their possession.  They were trying to cover up their actions, even if it meant littering the road.

When I was undergoing chemotherapy, I also felt the need to hide something, although it really wasn't evil or sinful.  At the beginning of treatment, the oncology team warned me that I would lose my hair as a result of the chemotherapy.  To prepare for this, I asked a friend of mine who worked for a pacemaker company if he could give me a scrub hat to wear at work.  You know the's a simple surgical hat you see worn in operating rooms as illustrated by medical shows on television.  I felt it would be a way I could still look somewhat professional in my work at the hospital while covering up my bald head.

Yet, to my amazement (and to the shock of my oncology team), I never did completely lose my hair, although it did thin quite a bit.  But even though my hair looked atrocious, I decided not to wear a scrub hat.  I felt like there was no need to be ashamed or to hide what I was going through.  Maybe it was a subliminal message I was sending out to the world such as, "Look at me!  I'm going through cancer treatment.  Yet, I'm still able to work, go to church, etc."  It was a testimony to the world that I was an overcomer and wouldn't be hindered by my cancer diagnosis and treatment.

The Bible exhorts us to not be bashful in proclaiming Christ.  Matthew 5:16 says, "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven." (NASB).  Years later, I'm glad I didn't try to hide everything I was going through with cancer.  By giving the public a glimpse into my illness, I was building a foundation for a ministry.  In simple terms, the light that was radiating off of my balding head was a picture of the glorious light God was providing within my soul as He was delivering me from cancer.  When I tell people now of what it was like to go through cancer, there is no doubting my testimony.  They heard about me fighting cancer.  But, even more so, they saw it!

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Warmth of God's Plan

It's a great story recorded in Luke 24.  Two men were walking to Emmaus on  the day that Jesus rose from the dead.  They were trying to understand everything that had happened in Jerusalem that week.  Jesus had entered Jerusalem in triumph with a king's welcome.  Yet, he was delivered to the chief priests and rulers and underwent a horrific death via crucifixion.  Then it was reported that He had risen from the dead.  So, as the gentlemen were walking, they were thinking and conversing to each other what had happened in Jerusalem.  What did it all mean?  They walked and talked, still tying to make sense of it all. 

Then, an unknown figure joined their journey and conversation.  With marvelous clarity, Jesus, unrecognized by them at the time, explained the Old Testament scriptures regarding the Messiah which had led up to the events in Jerusalem that week.  Their hearts burned within as the Master Teacher provided some masterful teaching.  It was all made clear to them.  The death, burial and resurrection were all part of God's plan from the beginning of time.  They now had hope in a risen Savior.  After He departed from them, they exclaimed, "...Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?"  (vs. 32 NASB).  It was a heartwarming encounter with Jesus, a time when life made sense.     

Although I still wrestle with the reasons cancer was thrust upon me, as I read the Scriptures, I can see more clearly why this occurred in my life.  New insights for me regarding pain and suffering.  A new ministry.  New joys.  New friendships.  In a sense, it is a warm feeling inside, seeing the pieces of God's plan come together for my life.  Mind you, I may not understand everything that occurs in my life.  I still have many, many questions.  Yet, what I am able to comprehend as Jesus explains the scriptures to me on a day-to-day basis is very heartwarming.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Invaluable Body Parts

"But now there are many members, but one body.  And the eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you"; or again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you."  On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; and those members of the body which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our unseemly members come to have more abundant seemliness..." (I Corinthians 12:20-23 NASB)

In describing the importance of spiritual gifts, Paul uses the illustration of the human body to describe the value of each part.  He lists how every part is important, even those body parts which are less honorable or seemingly less valuable.

I truly came to recognize this when I was diagnosed with bladder cancer in 2004.  Before then, I was hardly aware of my bladder, except when it needed emptying.  Yet, it is an amazing organ and has a valuable function.  In simple terms, the webMD website describes how urine is made in the kidneys, and travels down two tubes called ureters to the bladder. The bladder stores the urine, allowing urination to be infrequent and voluntary. In addition, the bladder is lined by layers of muscle tissue that stretch to accommodate urine. Hence, the normal capacity of the bladder is 400 to 600 mL or about half a quart.

If we didn't have a bladder, urine would constantly flow out of our bodies.  Wouldn't that be a horrific thing!!!  All activities of life would be affected.  As a matter of fact, urination would be frequent and involuntary...a constant burden upon working, participating in sports activities, and overall daily life.

So, here's to the bladder and all other body parts that don't get much credit.  Every part of the body is important.  Try to keep all of your body parts as long as you can.

Unfortunately, my bladder was killing me and had to be removed.  I talk more about this in my book, "A Place I Didn't Want To Go: My Victory Over Cancer."  It is available on Amazon and Kindle.  It can be accessed at:

Friday, November 30, 2012

Leaving A Legacy

One of the local radio stations where I live switches over to a Christmas music only format around the middle part of November each year.  I enjoy listening to the station, although it seems like some songs get much more airplay than others.

For example, one song I hear frequently is "It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year" sung by Andy Williams.  It's a great upbeat song, extolling the excitement of the Christmas season.  It is also sung splendidly by Andy Williams and is certainly a holiday favorite.

However, this year the song has a special meaning or significance.  If you recall, Andy Williams died this year of bladder cancer, the same illness that I fought and overcame.  As a matter of fact, when I heard Mr. Williams had bladder cancer, I tried to contact him directly through one of his fan sites but never heard back.  Nevertheless, this song and, in particular, his singing voice are now part of his legacy.  Although I'm not very familiar with much of his music, it seems like the songs I have heard are fairly positive and uplifting.  His songs are his legacy.

On the other hand, I am saddened to hear of the failures of Lance Armstrong.  He is a cancer survivor with many Tour de France victories.  His catchphrase, "Live Strong", can be seen on bracelets and other sports items.  Yet, due to his drug usage, his Tour de France victories and his commercial sponsorships have been removed.  He has gone from hero to zero in a short period of time.  His legacy is now the image of one who took substances to secure his Tour de France wins.  In other words, he cheated.  Not the best way to be remembered.

When dealing with cancer, I am faced with a choice regarding my legacy.  Do I want to be known as someone who fought cancer bravely and tried to help as many people as possible cope with the disease or do I simply want to get by?  To me, the choice is clear.  I choose to write, to speak, to encourage, to do whatever I can to help others.  Although I fall short in so many ways, being able to assist others with cancer or major illness is certainly a good way to be remembered at the end of my days.

I mention more about my cancer battle and subsequent victory in my book, "A Place I Didn't Want To Go: My Victory Over Cancer".  Check it out at: 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Compensatory Damages

Recently, while traveling on the interstate, I saw a billboard featuring an attorney which stated, "In a wreck?  Get a check".  Apparently, if you're in a wreck, all you need to do is contact this guy and he'll find a way to get you some money to compensate for your loss.  Of course, I imagine this is not a free service.  Surely the guy on the billboard gets a cut from your reimbursement.  Maybe his advertisement should more accurately read, "In a wreck?  I'll also get a check". 

Yet, this advertisement appeals to part of our nature.  If we are given a raw deal, we feel like someone should make it better.  If our steak is undercooked at the restaurant, we feel that the cook should cook it some more, or maybe even give us a free dinner.  If our washing machine breaks down shortly after purchase, we feel the company should repair it or replace it without cost.  If our car is a lemon, we think the dealer should make amends in some form or fashion.  In whatever situation, the compensation helps overcome the sting of our discomfort.

Perhaps one of the greatest examples of compensation in the Bible is the story of Job.  As you recall, Job was a wealthy man.  Yet, within a brief period, he lost his family, his servants, his livestock, and, worst of all, his health.  However, in chapter 42 of the book of Job, it is exciting to see how "...the Lord restored the fortunes of Job...and the Lord increased all that Job had twofold" (verse 10).  In addition, "the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning" (verse 12).  Eventually, Job "died, an old man an full of days" (verse 17). Maybe, on his deathbed, the terrible losses Job experienced in his life were just a distant memory.

I know that for me, personally, having had cancer, I am constantly seeking ways to compensate for the damage it inflicted upon me.  My book, my blog and speaking engagements are part of this process.  Mind you, these activities may not ever totally restore my losses.  Yet, there is great joy when I see how God is using my affliction.

Furthermore, God may not give me a check like the billboard says.  However, the wisdom, insights and ministry He has provided me due to my cancer are truly invaluable.  In addition, just like Job, He may one day allow me to die an old man and full of days.        

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Finding Peaceful Moments

Since I work downtown, I have to walk about two blocks to the hospital where I'm employed.  It's not really a long walk.  However, as the weather turns cold, the walk can be somewhat bitter.  I've noticed a few days recently where the walk was quite chilly.  Of course, it can only get worse as the winter is fast approaching with plunging temperatures.

Thankfully, though, when the weather is cool, I've discovered a door about halfway during my walk that makes all of the difference.  Going in this entrance actually lengthens the walk to my floor by a couple of minutes.  Yet, it has one great big advantage....a heater.

It's not a fancy looking heater.  Just a wall heater with a thermostat and a blower.  It reminds me of the type of heater you might find in a high school classroom or a hotel room.  But, when I go through this special entrance, this wall heater is usually at full force with the fan turned on to the maximum setting.  As I enter the door, I am compelled to stop by this heater and soak in a few minutes of its warmth.  From this point, I can walk completely indoors to my final destination.  As you can tell, I am extremely grateful for the wall heater, making the cold walk from the parking lot less bitter.  The heater is a wonderful respite from the cold.

When I was going through chemotherapy, I can remember looking for those brief moments of peace in the midst of my chaotic life.  One particular instance comes to mind.  One night, I was eating a popsicle when a thunderstorm approached my house.  However, instead of staying inside out of the rain and the wind, I felt compelled to sit out on my porch and experience the storm.  Mind you, the rain was not blowing towards me so I stayed completely dry.  Yet, the rain, the thunder, all the elements of the storm, were comforting to me.  It was just a normal as usual.  You see, when you go through chemotherapy, you long for routine, for schedules, for life to be normal again.

So, when it started raining, I felt at peace.  Even though I was fighting cancer, the world felt like it was still the same.  An average storm on an average night.  At least, for a few waning moments, I was happy.

In Matthew 11:28 Jesus says, "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest."  Coming to Jesus will one day provide eternal rest in heaven, and that's something I am greatly anticipating.  However, I believe Jesus also provides rest here on earth, that is, calmness in the midst of storms.  He doesn't promise us life will be easy, by no means.  Yet, in our darkest hour, we can turn to Him for comfort and strength.

The heater in my workplace provides temporary relief from the cold and I am so grateful for it.  More importantly, my Savior provides permanent relief from the bitterness of life.  For this reason, I will always praise Him. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

God's Timing

"There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven—
2 A time to give birth and a time to die;
A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted.
3 A time to kill and a time to heal;
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
4 A time to weep and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn and a time to dance.
5 A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace and a time to shun embracing.
6 A time to search and a time to give up as lost;
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
7 A time to tear apart and a time to sew together;
A time to be silent and a time to speak.
8 A time to love and a time to hate;
A time for war and a time for peace." 

Ecclesastes 3:1-8 (NASB)

I noticed how the leaves are really starting to change colors in my neighborhood today.  The magnificence of the orange, yellow, red and green leaves now adorn the trees beside the roads and houses.  Of course, my yard and driveway are also full of fallen leaves after a brief rain.  It's all part of the fall season.  As the old song "Earthmaker" by Farrell and Farrell states, "Seasons always change on time".  It's part of God's purpose.  It is also a comfort to see the weather progress through a typical yearly cycle.

Hard to believe, but there is also a reason for cancer.  It can occur for chastisement, that is, we bring it upon ourselves through poor choices, for example, cigarette smoking.  It can also be part of the natural dying process.  Let's face it.  We all are going to die of something at some time, whether it be cancer, heart disease, old age, etc.  Finally, cancer can occur for God's glory.  Having cancer can open up a new ministry, draw a person closer to God or develop a person's inner character.  The curse of cancer may ultimately be a blessing.

So, there is a time for every event under heaven, even the shocking, horrific diagnosis of cancer.

I talk more at length about the purpose of illness in my book, "A Place I Didn't Want To Go: My Victory Over Cancer" which is available at and on Kindle.  You can access it at:

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Learning To Wait

I went to have my teeth cleaned today.  It was my routine six month visit.  At first, I had to stay in the waiting room and fill out updated paperwork (do I have to fill this out every time I come?).  Finally, the hygienist escorted me to a dental chair in a corner room.  She placed a bib around my neck and then commenced to cleaning. 

Although I didn't have any cavities (I haven't had a cavity since childhood), it was still a tedious process being with the hygienist.  I sat patiently while she prodded, scraped, brushed, flossed and rinsed my teeth. Of course, she also vacuumed out the water with a continuous suction device which hung over my bottom lip.

The process was not overtly painful, but it dawned on me how "stuck" I was in the dentist chair.  I couldn't move, had to open and close my mouth at certain times and also, perhaps the hardest task, tried not to swallow saliva with all of the paraphernalia inserted in my mouth.  Overall, it was a helpless feeling.  You could say I was learning to "wait" while in the dentist chair.  As a matter of fact, this chair was located in the actual "waiting room", not the area where I had filled out paperwork earlier and scanned through uninspiring magazines.  Yet, I could only take comfort in the fact that this cleaning process would be short-lived.  Usually I leave the dental office in less than an hour.

Having cancer is also a helpless feeling.  Although patients can participate in the healing process by a positive attitude, in a sense, there is a limited amount of what a patient can do.  I personally was powerless.  I had to submit to major surgery, scans, lab tests, and chemotherapy.  Just as the powerless feeling in the dentist chair, I was immobile when I had cancer.  There was only so much I could do.  I kept waiting and praying for it to end.  Thank God it finally did.

The Bible also tells us of the value of waiting.  A familiar verse says, "Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired. They will walk and not become weary."  Isaiah 40:31 (NASB).  Although the word "wait" here could mean "rely on", still I have the image of someone "waiting" on God.  In other words, there is only so much you can do.  You must wait for God to act.

You want your cancer to go away?  Might need to wait on God.  In His timing, you'll gain new strength and the eagles' wings will eventually develop.


Friday, October 26, 2012

Sickness For The Glory Of God

It's an interesting question, one that has been discussed through the ages.  Why does someone become ill?  In a technical sense, medical knowledge and technology have come so far that it is actually easier to determine the source of illness.  We (I guess I can use that term since I work in health care)  now know that there are a multitude of entities which can lead to illness.  It could be germs, genetics, the environment, exposure to chemicals, overeating, lack of exercise, smoking, drinking, too much medication or not enough medication (just to name a few).  We are blessed with a plethora of lab tests, bone scans, CT scans, PET scans, MRIs, and ultrasounds to pinpoint the source of a disease.

Yet, the question remains, "Why does a person get sick?"  It's a question that troubled Jesus' disciples.  Seeing a blind man in their midst, it appeared to be the opportune time to ask Jesus for further insight.  They were quoted in John 9:2-3 saying, "...Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he should be born blind?  Jesus answered, 'It was neither that his man sinned nor his parents, but it was in order that the works of God might be displayed in him.'"  Jesus stated that the blind man in no way brought his sickness upon himself.  The blindness also wasn't due to the errors of his parents.  In a most bizarre concept which cuts against the grain of our natural thinking, Jesus said this unfortunate man's sickness would actually be for the glory of God. 

How can sickness be for the glory of God?  First of all, sickness can draw a person to Christ.     Psalms 119:71 says, "It was good for me that I was afflicted, that I may learn Thy statutes."  Many people don't think about death at all.  They may feel like their earthly bodies will never fail, that life on this planet is never ceasing.  Yet, when someone gets sick, it testifies how temporary we are.  Our bodies are deteriorating.  Hence, those who never consider the afterlife may suddenly realize their necessity for a savior when they are on their deathbeds.

Also, sickness can be the catalyst to develop a new ministry.  II Corinthians 1:3-4 says, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort; who comforts us in all our affliction so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort  with which we ourselves are comforted by God."  Before my cancer diagnosis in 2004, I rarely thought about cancer or sickness for that matter.  Now, I have a cancer ministry with a book, a blog, and speaking opportunities as God provides.  Although I wouldn't wish cancer upon anyone, my sickness has enriched my life in ways I never could have imagined.  So, people with cancer, diabetes, whatever, should use their sickness to minister to others.

Finally, sickness can help deliver others through your example.  I've mentioned this in a previous blog, "Overcoming Cancer: People Are Watching You", but the words of Acts 16 still grip my heart.  "But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.." (vs 25).  You know, prisoners need an example to follow in the midst of adversity.  My cancer may have been given to me in order to be an encouragement to my family, my co-workers, my church or my community.  We all need heroes, people that inspire us, that prompt us to move forward in life.  What happens to us when someone close overcomes a great adversity?  Acts 16:26 lists the result in that , "...everyone's chains were unfastened".  We become free through their freedom.  We think, "If they can make it, so can I!!!".

So, can sickness be used for the glory of God?  Absolutely.  I pray that you will use your infirmity for His kingdom.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

My UAB eReporter Interview

Just a quick blog this time with a link to an interview I had at UAB Hospital.  See the attached:

"UAB's Campbell Fights Bladder Cancer With The Healing Power Of The Pen "

It can be accessed online at:

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

My Message Goes Global

" shall be My witnesses, both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth."  (Acts 1:8 NASB)

Before Jesus ascended into heaven, He told His disciples how the message of the Gospel would spread throughout the whole world through their testimony.  Gratefully, their message of the redeeming power of Christ eventually reached across the continents and gripped my heart in the summer of 1975 when I was born again.  You could say that when Jesus uttered the above statement America was part of the "remotest part of the earth."   As a matter of fact, the area where I live just north of Birmingham, Alabama, is part of the United States now known as "The Bible Belt", although our country as a whole currently appears to be in spiritual decline.  Nevertheless, I am forever indebted to the faithfulness of the first followers in proclaiming the Gospel so that one day I would be assured access into a glorious place called heaven.

Hopefully, just as the early disciples, I pray that I will be a faithful witness in proclaiming the Gospel.

In like manner, my desire is to spread my message of cancer recovery throughout the whole world.  I guess Birmingham is my Jerusalem, Alabama is my Judea and Samaria, and the United States and beyond is my remotest part of the earth. 

In relation to this, I am most excited to proclaim I had the privilege of doing a poster presentation on "Bladder Cancer: Through The Eyes Of A Survivor" at the American College of Nurse Practitioners Conference in Toronto on October 5th, 2012.  It was thrilling for me to share my story in another country, although most of the attendees of the conference were from the states.  Yet, just being able to describe how God has worked in my life on the soil of a foreign country was a great joy.  You could say my message has now gone global.

Where will I get to share my story in the future?  Europe? Asia?  Africa?  Only God knows. But I am not content to allow my story to stay within the confines of the Bible Belt.  I have worldwide aspirations....and that's a good thing. 

Friday, September 21, 2012

People Are Watching You

When I was going though cancer treatment, I became familiar with some books by Dr. Bernie Siegel, a physician who has worked extensively with cancer patients.    One of his books, "Peace, Love & Healing", has a great quote about disease being an agent of transformation. Listen to the richness of this statement:

"Disease is surely one of the ways we are tried by life and offered the chance to be heroic.  Though few of us will win Olympic medals or slay dragons, disease can be the spark or gift that allows many of us to live out our personal myths and become heroes".  (p. 197).

In other words, a person may not accomplish anything above the mundane in life, that is, win medals or slay dragons.  But yet, in a strange way, having an illness, whether it be cancer or another malady, provides an opportunity for a person to become a hero.  I've certainly discovered this to be true in my own life.  Although I fail in so many ways, I still am approached by people in church years after my cancer battle who tell me what an encouragement I was to them when I was in the darkest moments of my sickness.  Hey, I wasn't trying to be a hero.  I was just trying to survive.

Reminds me of the account of Paul and Silas in Acts 16.  As you may recall, they were thrown into a Philippian jail after publicly renouncing a girl with a spirit of divination.  After being arrested, they were beaten with rods and thrown into prison.  Their feet were placed in stocks.  How did these early missionaries deal with their situation?  Acts 16:25 records how "...about midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God and the prisoners were listening to them (italics mine)."

Although it is unfathomable to think of the immoral punishment inflicted upon Paul and Silas, it did have a good result in that the prisoners were listening to them.  Brought to mind how whenever a person goes through hardship such as illness, there are others watching to see how one will respond.  Believe it or not, the dungeon of cancer may be the divine instrument in life to propel a person to stardom.  Who are the fans?  Why, it's simply the other prisoners in life who happen to be listening.    

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Advances In Nausea Control

I've been a nurse since 1983.  It's amazing some of the medical advances I've witnessed in my lifetime.  Consider the advances in treating acid reflux or peptic ulcer disease.  In the old days, I can remember giving patients an antacid such as Maalox or Mylanta every three hours (I kid you not) to allow healing of an ulcer and neutralize the acid in a patient's stomach.  I can still picture the white coating on  patients' lips who underwent this regimen.  Later, and not necessarily in order of appearance on the market, drugs like Tagamet,  Zantac, and Pepcid appeared to decrease acid production.  Another drug was subsequently developed to coat the stomach called Carafate.  Not too long after that, even better acid reducing medications like Prevacid and Nexium appeared.  Eventually, it was discovered that some ulcers were caused by a bacterium, Helicobacter pylori (known simply as H. pylori).  If H. pylori was discovered in your stomach, then you were given a course of antibiotics plus acid-reducing medications for several weeks.  So, the former days of  frequently gulping down chalky antacids were replaced by taking some pills for a few weeks.  An incredible breakthrough.

As I may have previously stated, extreme nausea was one of the worst side effects I endured while going through chemotherapy.  Frequent nausea.  Debilitating nausea leading to further fatigue and weight loss during treatments.  Consequently, most anti-nausea medications I received were of little value.  The nausea simply had to run its course.  Finally, with my last treatment, my doctor gave me a new drug called Emend which I took the day of chemotherapy and two days afterwards.  It was an expensive drug, roughly one hundred dollars a pill back then, but it totally obliterated the nausea.
I can only wonder what a difference this drug would have made if I would have taken it early on in treatment.  Perhaps the multiple hospitalizations due to dehydration could have been avoided.

Furthermore, I recently spoke to an oncologist who stated, if I understood him correctly, that nausea is not as much an issue with chemotherapy today due to advances in medical treatment.  Although some side effects of chemotherapy may be unavoidable, such as fatigue or hair loss, being able to eat and drink freely after treatments without the fear of vomiting may be the biggest medical breakthrough of them all.


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A Psalm When Undergoing Chemotherapy

Read another passage which captured my heart, especially in relation to my cancer battle.  As I read Psalms 88 (New American Standard version), verse after verse reminded me what I experienced while going through chemotherapy.  Consider these poignant verses from what is described as the saddest psalm.  My comments are listed in red beside the verses.

 1 O LORD, the God of my salvation, I have cried out by day and in the night before You.   
2 Let my prayer come before You; Incline Your ear to my cry !
3 For my soul has had enough troubles, And my life has drawn near to Sheol. (Chemotherapy makes you feel like you're dying).
4 I am reckoned among those who go down to the pit ; I have become like a man without strength, (Some chemotherapy agents cause profound fatigue).
5Forsaken among the dead, Like the slain who lie in the grave, Whom You remember no more, And they are cut off from Your hand(You feel abandoned).   
6 You have put me in the lowest pit, In dark places, in the depths. (Chemotherapy takes you as low as a person can possibly go...then it takes you even lower than that).
7 Your wrath has rested upon me, And You have afflicted me with all Your waves. (The effects of chemotherapy are relentless.  Wave after wave of fatigue and nausea).  Selah.  
8 You have removed my acquaintances far from me; You have made me an object of loathing to them; I am shut up and cannot go out.  (With chemotherapy, routine actions of life are difficult, e.g. going to church or work because you feel SO bad).
9 My eye has wasted away because of affliction ; I have called upon You every day, O LORD ; I have spread out my hands to You.  (I am desperate).
10 Will You perform wonders for the dead ? Will the departed spirits rise and praise You? (In other words, God, do you want to leave me this way?  What good am I in this present pitiful state?) Selah.  
11 Will Your lovingkindness be declared in the grave, Your faithfulness in Abaddon ?  
12 Will Your wonders be made known in the darkness ? And Your righteousness in the land of forgetfulness (How can I praise You if I'm dead?). 
13 But I, O LORD, have cried out to You for help, And in the morning my prayer comes before You.  
14 O LORD, why do You reject my soul ? Why do You hide Your face from me?  
15 I was afflicted and about to die from my youth on; I suffer Your terrors ; I am overcome.  
16 Your burning anger has passed over me; Your terrors have destroyed me.  (Chemotherapy wreaks havoc on the body).
17 They have surrounded me like water all day long; They have encompassed me altogether.  
18 You have removed lover and friend far from me; My acquaintances are in darkness.  (It may be difficult for friends and family to deal with a cancer patient undergoing chemotherapy.  Many hospitalizations.  Frequent doctors' visits.).  

Notice the psalm ends on a sad note.  How true!  Sometimes situations in life end in sorrow.  Sad endings occur in abundance.  As people of faith, we must believe, we have to believe, that there is a God of love who allows such things.  Otherwise, life makes no sense whatsoever. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Prayer For The Dying

It's amazing how many verses in the Bible have come alive since I had cancer.  For example, I became familiar with Psalms 118:17 while I was undergoing chemotherapy in 2006.  It states, "I shall not die, but live, and tell of the works of the Lord".  What a great encouragement for those undergoing cancer or any other major illness.  As a matter of fact, I now wear this verse on a bracelet wherever I go.  It has become my life verse.  It's a verse which proclaims that God had a purpose in my healing from Stage 3 bladder cancer, even though my oncologist felt my chances of surviving were fifteen to twenty percent.

Found another great verse the other day.  Psalms 79:11 says "Let the groaning of the prisoner come before Thee; according to the greatness of Thy power preserve those who are doomed to die."  What captured my attention was the last phrase, "preserve those who are doomed to die."  It appears to be speaking to prisoners, especially those in the dungeons who have no hope of release.  Perhaps they are scheduled for execution.  Yet, the psalmist asks God to change the circumstances of those with no hope. 

For many people who are diagnosed with cancer, chances of recovery, as occurred in my life, are limited.  The doctor may state that the treatments may only provide temporary relief, not ultimately remove the cancer.  In relation to this, I believe the oncologist told my mother when she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer years ago that his purpose was to "extend her life", not cure her.  In other words, it was hopeless.

Yet, my prayer today for anyone experiencing cancer is exactly what the psalmist said, that God would "preserve those who are doomed to die".  Although I can't understand God's ways in many situations, especially in the lives of those suffering with cancer, sometimes He does choose to heal in accordance with His plan. 

Furthermore, if He does preserve some one's life out of the dungeon of cancer, perhaps they, too, will one day be able to proclaim the truth of Psalms 118:17, "I shall not die, but live, and tell of the works of the Lord".   

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Looking To The Guide

Going through cancer is very frightening.  Lots of unfamiliar territory.  Sometimes the journey may take years with lots of trips and turns.  I know my journey became absolutely chaotic when I was undergoing chemotherapy.  My nausea was so severe that I ended up being hospitalized five times with dehydration. I was also anemic.  I tried to work as much as I could but it was difficult being hospitalized so much.  A couple of times I went to work even when I felt extremely bad and ultimately was admitted to the hospital FROM work.  On one occasion, I went into a patient's room and felt like I was going to pass out.  Now that would have been impressive!  Nevertheless, I ran outside the room and told my coworker how I felt.  She graciously took over the work while I went to the emergency room and was subsequently admitted to the hospital.
In addition to nausea, I learned how bad chemotherapy is from a fatigue standpoint.  I have never felt so tired in my life.  I felt I was like a cigarette butt being ground in an ashtray.  Grounding, pounding, unrelentless.  Furthermore, the tiredness never seemed to get much better.  I was always tired, always felt bad.  Every task that I performed, whether working around the house or going to work, required significant effort on my part.  It wasn't until the chemotherapy ended that my energy level improved significantly a couple of weeks later.

However, I don't write about these matters to get sympathy.  I also hope that the reason I wrote my book was not to get sympathy.  No, not at all.  Having gone through cancer, I feel I have much to share about getting through it from a personal standpoint.  Things that worked, things that didn't.  In other words, I want to be a guide to anyone going through cancer.

Perhaps the greatest guide in hard times  is the Lord God Himself.  Isaiah 58:11 proclaims, "...the Lord will continually guide you, and satisfy your desire in scorched places, and give strength to your bones; and you will be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water whose waters do not fail."  Wow!  Great promise...great comfort.

A wise old hymn writer, William Williams, also looked to God as his guide.  Consider the precious  words of this hymn, "Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah".

"Guide me, O thou great Jehovah,
pilgrim through this barren land. 
I am weak, but thou art mighty;
hold me with thy powerful hand. 
Bread of heaven, bread of heaven,
feed me till I want no more;
feed me till I want no more.

Open now the crystal fountain,
whence the healing stream doth flow;
let the fire and cloudy pillar
lead me all my journey through. 
Strong deliverer, strong deliverer,
be thou still my strength and shield;
be thou still my strength and shield.

When I tread the verge of Jordan,
bid my anxious fears subside;
death of death and hell's destruction,
land me safe on Canaan's side. 
Songs of praises, songs of praises,
I will ever give to thee;
I will ever give to thee."

Don't try to make it through life on your own.  Look to the guide.  "For such is God, our God forever and ever;  He will guide us until death" (Psalms 48:14).

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Living Off My CT Scans

After I finished chemotherapy in June 2006, I underwent periodic CT scans of my abdomen to make sure the cancer had been eradicated.  First the scans were every three months, then increased to every six months, then finally once a year.  Every scan was worrisome.  What if the cancer reoccurred?  How would I face it again?  However, I soon learned not to worry about the scans until the day of the scan.  Why?  Because worrying wouldn't solve anything.  If I had a good CT report, then I had basically another six to twelve months to enjoy life. I would pray about the scans the day of the tests, but otherwise tried not to think too much about them.

That's the mindset of a cancer patient.  You live from one scan to the next.

The Bible has some good advice regarding worrying.  In Matthew 6:34, Jesus said, " not be anxious about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own."   In other words, focus on today.  Don't get too uptight about things down the road.  They will take care of themselves.

Put another way, as I heard a preacher say, "worrying is assuming responsibility for something God never intended for you to do."  Great advice.  There's no reason to worry about potential problems.  God will handle them.  Of course, I should still try to plan for the future.  But, for now, as Bobby Ferrin sings in the attached song, I don't need to worry.  I just need to be happy.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

You Are Not Alone

Before my cancer diagnosis in 2004, I was unaware of anyone ever having bladder cancer.  Since that time, I've discovered that many celebrities have fought bladder cancer, some have even died from it.  The list includes Frank Sinatra (in addition to having Alzheimer's when he died), former Vice President Hubert Humphrey, Ray Bolger (the actor known for being "The Scarecrow" in the movie "Wizard of Oz") and investigative reporter Dominick Dunne.  Most recently, singer Andy Williams announced he had been diagnosed with bladder cancer.  Hence, I now look at these celebrities in a different light.  We are intertwined by a disease.  You could even say we're part of the same family. Hey, I even felt inclined to try to contact Andy Williams via his fan website (haven't heard back from him, however).   Yet, if I do ever hear from him, even though our careers and paychecks are much different, we do have something to talk about.  Based on my experience, he may even benefit from conversing with me.

Of course, bladder cancer does not affect just celebrities.  The American Cancer Society states that 73,000 Americans are diagnosed with bladder cancer annually and it causes 15,000 deaths.  So, bladder cancer is out there, although it may not get as much publicity as other cancers.

The Bible offers comfort to those who are going through similar situations.  I Peter 5:9 says that we know that "...the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world" (NASB).  Although this verse applies to temptations and attacks from the devil, I believe this verse also applies to anyone going through major suffering or trials.  Think about it!  There are countless numbers of people worldwide going through similar trials and emerging victoriously.  There is hope in numbers.  If others can overcome a certain malady, then so can I. 

Consequently, when struck by unfathomable sorrow or suffering, it's nice to know that I am not alone. 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Looking Beyond The Present

It was such a simple little drawing.  After I was informed in March 2006 that I would undergo twelve chemotherapy treatments, I made a little graph shaped like a thermometer with twelve sections.  I put in on the bulletin board in front of my desk at work.  Each week when I returned to work after chemo, I would fill in a section with a red or pink marker.  It was a visible reminder of my progress with chemotherapy.  What a joy when the graph was completely filled in on June 15, 2006. 

In looking back, I guess the graph was a way of me looking beyond the present circumstances.  In spite of the extreme nausea, profound fatigue and multiple hospitalizations with chemo, the graph showed me I was making progress.  There was an end in sight.  All I had to do was continue filling in sections from week to week.

The Bible states that Jesus also looked beyond His circumstances.  Hebrews 12:2 says that Jesus "for the joy set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame and has sat down at the right hand of God" (NASB).  Come to think of it, even the most severe of circumstances may be endured if one knows there is a reward at the end.  It could be a paycheck for a job well done, a trophy for demonstrating the highest character or simply a good night's rest for tackling the day's challenges in heroic fashion.

This type of thinking is displayed in a commercial, I believe it's for a sports drink, where it shows a football player running up and down the steps of a stadium.  He is sweating profusely and panting heavily.  He is all alone....laboring.  Yet, his thoughts are, "Touchdowns aren't given away....they're paid for."  He knows his hard work will one day end up with him in the endzone, scoring for his team in front of numerous screaming fans.  His efforts will all be worth it one day.

Going through cancer, and especially chemotherapy, is painful.  Yet, having the ability to look beyond the present can turn even the worst of cancer treatment into a "momentary, light affliction...producing an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison" (II Corinthians 4:17).

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

What Cancer Cannot Do

The other day, on an off day from work, I jogged a couple of miles in my neighborhood.  I used to run a lot more, but over the years I've been limited in my amount of running by my long working hours.  However, as I ran around the corner from my house, I was met by what used to be a frightening site, that is, a barking dog named Deke.  As a matter of fact, I can usually count on Deke barking at me if I am near his property.  It can be pretty scary if you aren't familiar with Deke's situation.  Deke is a good sized animal, about the size of a Black Labrador, although he appears to be a mixed breed.  When Deke approaches with his ferocious bark, it is only natural to be afraid, very, very afraid.

Yet, interesting thing about Deke.  All he can do is bark at me.  Apparently, his yard has a hidden wire under the grass where he will only go so far.  I've never seen him leave his yard.  As long as I run on the street, I know Deke will never hurt me.  He will come within a few feet of me, barking, carrying on, but yet, I never really get rattled by Deke.  I know his power (with the help of modern dog control technology) is limited.

Reminds me in a sense about cancer.  Just the word "cancer" is scary.  The treatments are tumultuous.  The side effects debilitating.  I once received a card from a sweet lady at church years ago who was battling lung cancer and she quoted this poem.  I in turn felt compelled to put it on my refrigerator.  Furthermore, this poem is now seen on T-shirts, coffee mugs and bracelets.  The author is unknown, but the verses describe  the limitations of cancer.  It is entitled, "What Cancer Cannot Do".  Consider:

Cancer is so limited...
It cannot cripple love.
It cannot shatter hope.
It cannot corrode faith.
It cannot eat away peace.
It cannot destroy confidence.
It cannot kill friendship.
It cannot shut out memories.
It cannot silence courage.
It cannot reduce eternal life.
It cannot quench the Spirit.   

Mind you, cancer can  kill, maim and destroy.  Yet, just like my buddy Deke who meets me when I'm running, cancer's bark is sometimes worse than its bite.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Coping Versus Moping

I had a radio interview the other day regarding my cancer survival and book.  I always enjoy getting questions because it seems to refine my message.  In other words, it helps me try to delineate what I truly believe.

For example, the interviewer asked me if some people use cancer as a means to draw attention to themselves.  Another way of describing this phenomenon is a "pity party".  Hey, look at me.  I have cancer.  Feel sorry for me.  Wait on me.  I believe there is an old medical term that lists this as "la belle indifference".  A person actually enjoys being sick because of the attention it garners.

I hope this is not my attitude at all.  On one hand, I do have to make an honest appraisal of my physical abilities (or lack of them) since I went through chemotherapy.  I do have some infirmities, e.g. loss of hearing, which I've mentioned before.  In describing the hearing loss, I don't want to make people feel sorry for me.  I just want to know what my life has become.  I can't hear sometimes.  Phone conversations are difficult.  Understanding dialogue on TV shows is difficult.  So, am I trying to make others feel sorry for me by mentioning these things?  No, not at all.  I just want them to realize there is a reason that sometimes I misunderstand conversations.  Dialogues with others are not being ignored.....I just can't completely comprehend what is being said.

Furthermore, even though cancer has damaged me, I don't want to be pitied.  Cancer has opened up doors I never could have imagined.  I've gained new insight into life. As a matter of fact, I've been entrusted with new knowledge, new insights, new victories.  In many ways, I'm a new person.  Life before cancer was so routine and so uneventful.  Now, because of this dreaded disease, life, in a  most peculiar way, has become more glorious.  Oh, cancer, where is thy sting?

I talk more about my cancer victory in my book, "A Place I Didn't Want To Go:  My Victory Over Cancer", which can be purchased at  You can access it online at:

Monday, May 14, 2012

Being Sifted

In Luke 22:31, Jesus said, "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat."  As you may recall, Jesus made this statement in anticipation of Peter denying Him three times as our Lord's arrest and crucifixion were imminent. 

This verse became more clear to me recently as my wife and I were working out in the backyard. This year my wife decided to plant a vegetable garden in an open area in the yard, something which she has done on occasion.  Unfortunately, the spot she chose for the garden had a very hard soil.  Hence, preparing the soil would take much effort with a simple hoe and rake.  To say the least, it was a task we was dreading.

In anticipation of this project, although money in our household is very tight, I felt the need to purchase a simple tiller to loosen the soil.  What a difference the tiller made!  Instead of taking hours to prepare the soil, the tiller loosened the ground within a few minutes. I marveled as the blades churned through the soil with relative ease.  You could say the tiller was "sifting" the soil.

Seeing the tiller brought Luke 22:31 to mind.  It also reminded me of what I had been through with cancer, especially with chemotherapy.  Multiple hospitalizations and multiple blood transfusions.  Battles with depression.  Extreme nausea.  Profound fatigue.  Chemotherapy carried me to rock bottom, so to speak, then even lower than that!  I was truly sifted all right. 

Yet, now that my soil has been prepared, I pray that good crops will appear in my life.  I don't wish sifting upon anyone.  However,  I rejoice in the crops which may be forthcoming.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Who's in Charge??

The other day before I visited my ENT doctor, I prayed something like, "Dear God, please restore my hearing."  This is related to the fact I suffered permanent hearing loss from chemo treatments in 2006. I was hoping to hear news about a revolutionary new surgery which would relinquish me of the burden of wearing hearing aids at times.  Then, it dawned on me how I had misplaced my request to my Heavenly Father.  It was not "my" hearing.  I didn't create it.  I really had no part in its function from the beginning.  As a matter of fact, I couldn't take any credit for my hearing, vision, sense of smell, sense of taste or any of the functions of my body.  These wonderful creations were all loaned to me by a loving God who created everything.

The Bible describes it in this way.  "For Thou didst form my inward parts; Thou didst weave me in my mother's womb" (Psalms 139:13).  It wasn't evolution, it wasn't chance.  My body was created by God, no doubt about it.  In addition, in a peculiar way, God even takes credit for what we call "handicaps".  For example, in Exodus 4:11 God says, "Who has made man's mouth?  Or who makes him dumb or deaf, or seeing or blind?  Is it not I, the Lord?"  Even though the hearing loss with chemotherapy caught me by surprise, it was somehow part of God's plan for me.

So, as I struggle on a daily basis trying to understand conversations, trying to follow dialogue on television with closed captioning, etc.,  I have to continue to entrust my body to God's loving care to accomplish His purposes in me.  For "every one who is called by My name....I have created for My glory..." (Isaiah 43:7).  If He chooses to restore my hearing, I'll praise Him.  If He doesn't restore my hearing, although I may not understand it, I will yet praise Him.  My infirmities will ultimately lead to God's glory. 

Hence, who's in charge?  Definitely not me, and seeing how I usually mess up most things in my life, that's probably a good thing.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Joy of Renewal

Well, I finally had to trade it in around 2010:  my 1992 Mercury Villager Van.  After driving it for years and years, it was getting harder and harder to find replacement parts.  As a matter of fact, it became somewhat comical with some of the issues I faced with the van in its last few months in my possession.  It would be hard to mention exactly everything that went wrong  but I'll try.

The motor continued to run well for the most part, but it was peripheral issues that took its toll.  For example, the door locks on the car broke so that I couldn't lock my car.  The passenger's side window went out.  The radio only worked part of the time.  The lock on the glove compartment box broke so I had to prevent the glove compartment from flying opening while I was motoring by securing it with duct tape.  The sun visor on the driver's side broke so I had to cover my eyes whenever I drove in open sunlight.  Sometimes the hatch on the back took several tries to get it closed.   The wiring on my tail lights became frazzled so I sometimes only had one operating tail light.  I guess the issue that finally made me give it up was the air conditioning compressor.  It broke down and my repair guy had difficulty finding a replacement.  He did find an air conditioning compressor that had never been used by looking for it on the internet but it failed after a few months.  I thought, "That does it!!!  I just can't get through another Alabama summer without air conditioning."  So, finally, in October 2010, I traded in my van with 262, 000 miles on the odometer and purchased a used 2006 Kia Optima.

What a difference it makes to drive a newer car (although I purchased it used).  The air conditioner works.  The radio works (it even has a CD player...the van had a cassette player).  I can lock the doors with the push of a button on my key ring.  There is better gas mileage.  Better comfort.  Better controls.  Everything is better, better, better.  To me, this car is heaven-sent.  When I purchased it, it appeared to be the perfect car for me and my bank account.  Furthermore, I actually have developed quite a fondness for my Kia, my affection most likely based on my woeful interactions with the van in its latter debilitating years.

Kind of reminds me of the joy that occurs when coming through a trial.  In James 1:2 it says, "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials."  Although it would be hard to describe my cancer battle as a joyful experience , there is now a certain sense of happiness, a peace within for surviving what I did with the major surgery and chemotherapy.  Psalms 30:5 says, "...weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning."  This is certainly true.  Cancer, especially chemotherapy, was dark and painful.  Now, I can view my present situation with joy.  Consequently, I can look back and say how, with God's help, "I made it!" or "I overcame it".  It tried to destroy me but I ultimately am the victor.  It's a great feeling. 

Friday, April 13, 2012

Profit for Loss

It's interesting how the Bible places emphasis on losing things.  For example, Jesus said in John 12:24, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit."  Also, in Luke 9:24, Jesus said, "For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it."  Hence, the Bible describes the value of losing your life and getting something great in return, that is, you truly discover life.  Not only life, but life in abundance.

Reminds me of the old saying which states, "If you love something, set it free.  If it comes back, it's yours.  If it doesn't, it never was."  I was contemplating this idea of profit for loss recently while thinking of my cancer journey.  Because of cancer, I lost so many things.  You could say they were forcibly removed from me.  For example, I lost my natural born bladder and now have to depend upon an artificial bladder which was created from my small intestine.  As a result, I have to catheterize myself up to three times daily to make sure my artificial bladder is empty and avoid urinary tract infections.  I also lost part of my hearing due to chemotherapy.  This has been extremely distressing, as I struggle to understand daily conversations with my family and co-workers.  Of course, losing part of the sensation in my feet has been bothersome.  Consequently, when I try to jog or walk up steps, I hit the pavement or stairs abruptly since I can't feel the majority of sensation in my feet.  I am also more concerned about falling with the altered sensation in my lower extremities.

What have I gained as a result of my physical losses?  First of all, it has allowed me to test the waters as an author, perhaps something I never would have done before cancer.  My manuscript, "Bladder Cancer: Revealing News About A Hidden Threat" which was published in the April edition of Nursing2006 was an offshoot of what I had learned after having major cancer surgery.  Later on, my book, "A Place I Didn't Want To Go: My Victory Over Cancer", came to be written after I had suffered the rigors of chemotherapy.  Second, my losses have given me a platform as a speaker.  Due to cancer, I have spoken at several nursing and nurse practitioner conferences.  I'm continuing to pray for more opportunities to speak in the future.  Finally, I have gained new insights into the ways of God.  His ways are mysterious, but, believe it or not, He actually can use pain for His glory.  Even though cancer may be a life-altering diagnosis, it may eventually be a blessing.  Ultimately, as author John Piper states in his publication, "Don't Waste Your Cancer", cancer can actually be a gift and not a curse.  Having been gifted with cancer, I'm confident I'll be reaping many benefits in the years to come. 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Value Of A Healthy Body

Driving down a highway this morning in my old neighborhood, I noticed an interesting site.  What used to be a viable shopping district has turned into an area of multiple pawn shops and "get cash quick" type stores, utilizing your car title as a security deposit.  Some of these stores were even next door to each other, thus accentuating the need in this area.  It reminded me how people will do practically anything to get money, for example, sometimes trading in possessions, sometimes doing illegal actions, whatever, to survive financially.  I know I once had a garage sale to try to procure a few bucks, but it didn't really amount to much.

So, as anyone can see, money is oh so important in this life.  As a result, people endure the hardships of long working hours and lifetimes of labor in order to get money to purchase houses, cars, comforts and most importantly, food.  In relation to this, I too have been a part of the work force for many, many years.  Yet, I still have roughly another fourteen years or so of the daily rigors of employment before I can retire.  Don't get me wrong.  There are certainly joys in my occupation, but, on the other hand, there is a reason people call employment, "work".  Sometimes it is not fun, but strenuous mental and physical labor.

However,  there are some things that are more important than money.  For example, I've heard the expression, "If you have your health, you have everything".  So true.  As a matter of fact, some people would be willing to pay or do anything in order to get their health back. 

So, if you are healthy, be grateful.  A healthy body is more valuable than a healthy bank account or personal possessions.  You see, once your health fades, there is nothing that compares with the enormity of the loss.  Even though I've been cured of cancer, I still grieve  over the irreparable damage it has inflicted upon me.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Seven Warning Signs of Cancer (C.A.U.T.I.O.N.)

I had a car flash its headlights at me this morning on a road close to my house.  Apparently, this is a sign (don't know how or when it started) that there is a police car ahead watching for speeders.  Sure enough, as I traveled down the road, a police car was hiding along the side of the road in a wooded area.  I guess I should be thankful for the car that flashed its headlights at me, although it probably didn't matter.  I never speed and have never gotten a speeding ticket.  So the driver's warning to me really didn't make any impact.  It was essentially a wasted effort.

However, some warnings can have a huge impact.  Consider that one out of two men and one out of three women will get cancer in their lifetimes in the United States.  As a result, in perhaps my most important blog thus far, I must share the seven warning signs of cancer as listed by the American Cancer Society.  The seven warning signs can be described by the acronym CAUTION.  They are:

Change in bowel or bladder habits
A sore that will not heal
Unusual discharge or bleeding
Thickening or lump in the breast, testicles or elsewhere
Indigestion or difficulty swallowing
Obvious change in a wart or mole
Nagging cough or hoarseness

A person who experiences any of these signs or symptoms  should visit a healthcare provider.  Although, these signs may be caused by other entities, it is safest to make sure cancer is not the culprit. 

The flashing headlights I saw this morning may have saved someone the cost of a speeding ticket.  These warning signs of cancer, more importantly, may save someone's life.

I mention how I missed one of these warning signs, i.e. unusual discharge or bleeding, in my first book, "A Place I Didn't Want To Go:  My Victory Over Cancer".  I describe the heartache of going through cancer treatment but yet, my victory through God's grace.  Check it out on Amazon at:

I also talk about the positive aspects of illness in my second book, "Glorified Sickness: Honoring God Through Illness", which became available in February 2014.  It can be accessed at:

Finally, I am available to speak to your church or civic group about my cancer survival story or even the benefits of sickness.  Feel free to contact me via this blog.    

Saturday, March 31, 2012

When All Hope Is Lost

After speaking to a Sunday School class recently, someone asked me, in so many words, when is it okay for a cancer victim to give up?  She mentioned knowing someone who had terminal cancer and there just didn't appear to be any hope for recovery.  Wow!  Tough, tough question.  Hard to answer it in a few words.  It may take multiple blogs to address this one.

First of all, this question runs counter to my philosophy of fighting cancer.  As stated in my book, "A Place I Didn't Want To Go: My Victory Over Cancer", an integral part of overcoming cancer is never giving up, no matter what the odds.  In his book, "Peace, Love & Healing", Dr.  Bernie Siegel puts it more succinctly in saying, "It doesn't matter what the disease is.  There is always room for hope.  I'm not going to die because of statistics."  Hence, a cancer victim always has to believe that there is a chance for recovery.  The more a person fights it, the greater the chances of overcoming it.

Another way to view this issue is by visiting a sports analogy.  It seems like the best coaches, no matter what the sport, are the ones who proclaim their team has a chance of beating a formidable foe, irregardless whether they are outmatched.  It would be better to have a coach say, "If we play well, we have a good chance of beating the other team" as opposed to saying, "We really don't have a chance to win".  Such a coach gets his players to believe in themselves and their abilities.  The result?  Lo and behold, sometimes the underdog does win against incredible odds. 

In addition, a good coach gets his team to play hard throughout the entire game.   Even though his team may get down by a few points or runs, he encourages them to keep playing hard.  Sometimes, as a result of the players' continuing effort, the game does change.  What may have looked like a sure loss at some point may actually become a victory.

In relation to this, the good coach doesn't give up until the waning moments of a game, when, and only then, it is inevitable his team will lose.

So, in response to the question about giving up when all hope is lost, I think the cancer patient should fight bravely until all chance of recovery is nonexistent.  The patient, and the patient alone, should decide when it's time to give up.  Dying of cancer is not a failure.  Unfortunately, it's a  normal part of life in this lost and fallen world.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

How Can Nurses Help

I've recently had the privilege of speaking about my cancer experience to a Sunday School class at my church. I also spoke to the local chapter of the Oncology Nursing Society. I welcomed questions from the audience at the end of my talk. However, after each talk, I went home and wondered if I could have answered some questions in a better way.

For example, a nurse asked me what specifically she could do to help cancer patients in the hospital. I responded that much of the recovery depends on the patient, for example, does he or she want to get well?  Studies have shown that the people who fight cancer have a better chance of overcoming's as simple as that.

Yet, in my book, I state one way of overcoming cancer is continuing to do the normal activities of life. In doing so, it sends a message to the body that a cancer patient wants to live. When I was going through chemotherapy, I still went to work, went to church, whatever, as much as my health would allow. Sure it was tough.  Some days I went to work, only being able to eat jello and drink ginger ale due to nausea.  I also was extremely fatigued due to the side effects of chemo.  But I went to work anyway.  I believe such activities (with God's help, of course) ultimately helped me to survive.

Hence, how can nurses help? Encourage cancer patients to do normal things. For example, get out of bed, walk in the hallway, sit in the lobby, etc.  When out of the hospital, again, cancer patients should continue life as usual to the best of their ability.  The mindset should be that cancer will not be a hindrance, but an obstacle that will be overcome. 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Think About It

Working in the health care business can be emotionally draining.  There are many nights that I come home and worry about my patients, especially if they are not progressing well.  I have a bad tendency to second-guess myself, e.g. did I order the right medication or treatment, were there warning signs I should have recognized sooner to prevent a patient complication, should I have notified my collaborating physician about an issue, etc.  However, I've discovered for the most part that my judgement is usually correct.  Nevertheless, it sometimes takes me hours to process events in my patients,  In other words, I have to think things through thoroughly to feel at peace with myself and my judgement.

It dawned on me that I am also continuing to think through another issue, that is, my bout with cancer.  Although I wanted to quickly put it behind me, I still am trying to process the whole ordeal.  That's the way it is when you go through cancer.  It is not like having a minor sickness which can be easily forgotten with a simple surgery or treatment.  Cancer takes "big guns" to destroy it such as chemotherapy, radiation or surgery.  It lives up to the axiom: the harsher the diagnosis, the harsher the treatment.  In addition, once overcome, it leaves an enduring mark of its hideousness.  In my case, it left me with an artificially created bladder out of my small intestine, forcing me to catheterize myself three times a day.  I also have peripheral neuropathy, permanent hearing loss and damaged kidneys from the chemotherapy.  In females, it may leave one with the absence of a breast, I imagine, striking at the heart of womanhood.  Hence, to totally put cancer behind may be an impossibility, especially with daily reminders of its damage.

Perhaps one day I'll be totally at peace with what I've been through.  But, for now, even though I know God had a plan for allowing cancer in my life, I continue to think about it...and think about it...and think about it.  I can never escape it.  Oh, how I wish I could!