A Note to My Readers ~ Three weeks ago, I sat down with my journal and began writing an account of my life over these last 2½ years—a season filled with one hardship after another for my precious family. Many tears fell as I remembered the difficult times. And yet, in the midst of the heartache, I saw many glimpses of hope and joy and peace. I saw God’s love and faithfulness to my family during this long season. He was there every moment. It’s my prayer that as you read the stories within this three-part series, you will also see the hope I found during this winter season. Please click here for the first part of this story.
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Certain dates and moments remain imprinted in my memory.
On February 28, 2011, my dad called me with wonderful news—a scope of his throat showed that the cancer was gone. Joy brimmed over as I celebrated my dad’s third victory against cancer.
A month later, uncertainty and worry tainted this joyous moment. A routine colonoscopy revealed that the same type of cancer in my dad’s throat was now in his colon. Highly unusual and concerning.
And then on April 14, 2011, devastating news catapulted my family into winter’s fury.
Another cancer diagnosis. This time, stage 4 Squamous Cell Carcinoma, metastasized in my dad’s bones from his head to his knees.
Alone in my car, I wept uncontrollably as my mom delivered the doctor’s prognosis: four to six months to live without treatment, up to a year with treatment.
The days that followed remain hazy. Vague memories of my young son asking his dad why mommy was crying all the time. My mind unable to grasp what the future held for my family.
And then a call from my mom.
My dad agreed to visit the Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Tulsa for an evaluation and a second opinion.
I captured a wisp of HOPE and held it tight.
Maybe, just maybe, my dad could beat the cancer.
On Easter Sunday, my parents boarded a plane headed for Tulsa. A few days later, my mom called with the results of the evaluation.
The morsel of HOPE I’d been clinging to blossomed.
The doctors at CTCA believed there was a chance to get the cancer into remission. The battle for my dad’s life began that day—the fiercest my family has ever fought.
We almost lost my dad a week later when calcium leached into his blood and his kidneys began to shut down. He spent a week in the hospital, with a frightening visit to the intensive care unit.
But God carried my dad through this storm.
In the days and weeks that followed, we cherished many moments together as a family. Laughter pierced through the agony of cancer, and visits by family and friends revived low spirits and restored old relationships. A legacy of faith unraveled before us as my dad drew closer and closer to Jesus. A peace that surpassed all understanding rested upon my dad, one that only Jesus could give.
Beautiful moments orchestrated by our loving God, cloaking us with HOPE.
And then winter’s icy breath delivered more heartbreaking news. My grandma—my dad’s mother—was diagnosed with stage 4 stomach cancer two months after my dad’s diagnosis.
A month later in July 2011, family surrounded her bed in a small hospital room in Ohio as she faded from this life and into the arms of Jesus.
Many more prayers poured out for my dad as he continued to fight cancer—a fight resulting in more than a dozen areas in his body radiated, chemo treatments every few weeks, and the loss of his hair and mobility.
In mid-August, my dad came to stay with my family for a few days before he and I were to fly to Tulsa for his next chemo treatment.
We never did board that plane.
My dad’s health worsened, and he was admitted into the hospital, the calcium levels in his blood dangerously high and hampering his ability to function and think clearly.
Though the doctors gave no hope that my dad would recover, my family still clung to HOPE.
A HOPE for healing.
On the night of August 27th, a group of family and friends surrounded my dad’s bed and prayed for him. Oh, there was no mistaking the presence and power of the Holy Spirit in the room that night. As we finished praying, I looked up at my dad. Though he was unable to speak, a tear tumbled down his cheek.
HOPE swathed and comforted us
as we still believed God could heal my dad.
Early the next morning my dad passed away, leaving this world to be in the sweet, glorious presence of Jesus. A peaceful departure after a hard fight.
Tears dampened faces and hearts broke over the loss of a beloved husband, father, grandfather, friend, and believer in Jesus.
And though the grief over this loss penetrated deep, so did HOPE.
HOPE in God’s promises
that those who believe in Jesus
have a citizenship in heaven (Philippians 4:20)
and that they will receive new bodies
made by God Himself (2 Corinthians 5:1).
As a family, we don’t understand the reasons healing never came.
But still, we hold onto the HOPE
that can only be found in trusting God.
In the weeks after my dad’s funeral, some family and friends expressed their concerns that the cancer center gave us “false” hope. But I don’t see it that way.
The whispers of HOPE by the doctors gave us the courage to fight for life, grew our faith and trust in God, and showcased to others the joy and peace of knowing and trusting God in the tough times of life.
The HOPE we treasured during this four month battle wasn’t in the doctors or their evaluations.
Our HOPE was in God alone.
~TO BE CONTINUED~
Please stop by tomorrow for 3rd and final part of this story.