Byron and Sarah

The Cancer Journal Part Four

(This is Part Four of The Cancer Journal.  You can read Part One here, Part Two here, and Part Three here!)

Two days passed following the PET scan.  I tried to push the technician’s look out of my mind, but without much success.  And so we came to Friday evening.  I was driving when the doctors’ office called, and because I didn’t want to “break the law” I didn’t answer it.  Good excuse, no?  If you don’t want to hear bad news right away, just send them to voice mail because you’re driving!  Thank you, state patrol!

When we parked, though, I finally screwed up the courage to listen to the message.  Amy’s voice came on the phone. But she didn’t sound morose: instead she sounded ecstatic.  She said, “Hi, Byron, this is Amy from Dr. Chaves’s office.  I just couldn’t wait until next week to give you the good news.  The PET scan looks fabulous.  We can’t see any cancer, anywhere…  We’ll go over the PET scan in detail when we see you, but there has been complete resolution of all of the hot spots…  So you and the Good Lord doing all that great work, congratulations, and you guys have a fabulous weekend!”

I sat there, dumbfounded.  And then I chuckled.  Sarah said, “What did she say?  Play it for me!”  So I replayed it on loudspeaker.

Can I tell you the strangest part of this whole evening?  It was that we didn’t start jumping up and down or shouting right away.  Instead, we almost felt sober.  Sounds weird, doesn’t it?  But the truth was that we’d been having such a great time and touching so many lives that we didn’t want it to end.  However, I saw the hand of God all over this.  And I knew from experience that we had to lean into Him and trust Him, just like we had so many times before.  So I told Sarah as much.  Slowly we allowed ourselves to start getting excited and to step once again into the unknown.  And we started planning how to tell people.  Because the thing everyone had been praying for had happened: I had been healed.

How can I definitively say that I had been healed by God?  Good question.  Here’s the part that rankles me: I can’t.  I can only go on the evidence presented to me and infer from that the best answer.  But here’s the evidence: no one expected me to be over the cancer at four months.  Not the doctors, not me, not the PET tech.  Had it happened before?  Sure.  But it was extremely rare.  Especially for high risk, stage four dudes with dangerously advanced symptoms.  And despite my good attitude, I don’t think there’s any way that was enough.  Plus, the fact is that we don’t know when the cancer actually died.  It could have been at three months.  Or even two.  We just don’t know.  Second of all, there are all of the little miracles that happened leading up to this.  From the acid miracle to the blood counts to the lack of side effects to all of the other little things that added up to be one big thing along the way.  Third, there is the fruit that has come out following this.  I will get into this a little bit further, but there has been at least one healing following mine that was a direct result of my testimony and the prayers of the people.  Jim had been trying for years to get his thyroid to work properly.  And is it coincidence that the week after he heard my testimony, when I specifically told him that he was next, he suddenly had a normally functioning thyroid and is weaning himself off of the medication he’s been on for years?  Not just because he suddenly feels fine, but also because his doctor said so?  That stretches incredulity past the breaking point, in my opinion.

But in the end, this, like so much of life, has to be taken a little bit on faith.  Having said that, when you combine the evidence I mentioned above with my faith, I can tell you that, yes, without a doubt, God healed me of stage four Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.  Was it instantaneous as so many expect a miracle to be?  No.  But, honestly, I wouldn’t have missed out on these experiences for the world.  And God’s not done yet.

Throughout our treatment God used many people to bless us in a multitude of ways.  But a more common way we were blessed was through the gift of money.  It started coming in while we were still in chemo mode.  But it really started coming in once we decided to trust God and start stepping out of chemo mode.  I can now say that, through many wonderful, generous people (and one in particular who will remain anonymous for now), we are coming out of this free of medical debt — something that I never could have imagined was possible back in December.  But God’s not done yet.

Through my testimony I have been told by many that they now believe in miracles again.  That they now believe God is still at work in the world today.  I told our nurse, Debbie, that I was cancer free.  She looked at me, dead serious, and said, “Thank you so much for telling me.  We don’t get to hear that much around here.”  I told four ladies in a Panera that I had been healed of cancer.  They turned out to be Thailand missionaries who also work with Women’s Aglow (now Aglow International.)  By the time we were done talking they could barely sit in their chairs.  (In fact, they didn’t: they all jumped up and descended on ours.)  For me there could be no greater gift.  And I am not the last.  This makes me cry out once again in wonder and gratefulness to the Father of Life.  The superhero does exist.  And if he chose to pull me out of the burning building in front of hundreds of observers, so be it.  He’s not done yet.

Oh, and remember previously when I mentioned that I thought my thirtieth year would be the year I started stepping out into what God had put me on this earth for?  It turns out I was right.  God has used this cancer, from the very first time I wrote about it, to launch me.  It has touched lives that I would never have had any contact with.  And it has transformed both me, my family, and many, many others.  What more could I ask for than that?  But God’s not done yet.

This has been a little bit of my story.  I hope it has blessed you.  I hope it has touched your life and that you will share it with others to touch theirs.  Barring that, I hope it has made you think and consider: is there more to existence than I thought there was?  Does God still work today?  Is there reason to wonder?  What if?  And, lastly, I pray that the battle-cry on your lips (for yourself, for your circumstance, for your family, for your region, your country and the world,) will be this:

God’s not done yet.