On December 11, 2017, it was suspected I had pancreatic cancer. Minister Bill Collins sermon resonated on how Joshua was told to handle challenges in Joshua 1:9, “Be strong and courageous relying on God.” As Joshua is leading the Israelites into the promise land, God instructs them to take rocks from the middle of the riverbed where he has made a dry path through the river. He wants them to stack the rocks on the bank to represent for future generations to see their reliance on him. On June 1st, I am returning to work. For pancreatic cancer patients that hear the words, “We think you have pancreatic cancer.” their life expectancy is six months or June 11th in my case. Thus, I have been blessed. With the same reliance of Joshua on him, I want to mark or stack the stones that have given me strength during this battle.
1. Not understanding what my body was telling me, I prayed during my nephews’ Christmas Mass for a clear sign to seek or not seek medical attention. I got it during that service. The sign was what I prayed; however, it had no bearing on what was really wrong with me. Getting on this early is a reason for our success.
2. One of the top 2 teams in the world for fighting this specific cancer is an hour and half from my front door at the IU Simon Cancer Center. Through one of Wendi’s bosses, on December 23, I received a call from Dr. Patrick Loehrer. After a lengthy Saturday afternoon conversation, Dr. Loehrer informed me he would be taking my case. Realize, my files had not been transferred yet. I had one of the founding fathers of the Simon Cancer Center leading my team. He has been recognized as one of Purdue’s Outstanding Mechanical Engineering graduates. Peace of mind for someone who was fearful of developing a rash as a Purdue graduate entering territory featuring thousands of IU logos.
3. During the 2nd round of chemo, I developed a blood clot the size of a pencil from the back of my neck to the port in my chest. The look on my friend and driver Mark Jones shocked face as the hematologist discussed the severity of this clot showed how I was blessed again. The clot was gone and I have not developed any others.
4. After the 5th round of chemo, I was still a candidate for Dr. Michael House and his surgical team to complete the Whipple surgery. It was a ten plus hour operation. I was in the 20% that are eligible for it.
5. Ken Perkins says, “People don’t care how much you know, until you know how much they care.” I know God gave me nurse Chelsea when they moved me to the intensive care unit on the 2nd day after surgery. She not only knew her stuff; but she cared. She realized I was suffering while they did many things to get my lungs and stomach functioning again.
6. Only 20% of the surgery patients are told they got 100% of the tumor. I am blessed to be one of those patients.
I have not been alone on this journey. Your prayers have and continue to comfort my family. There have been private acts of kindness as well. One of our quietest employees at the bank gave me a carved wooden cross. A customer witnessed and took a picture of the Peru staff praying at the time of my endoscopy ultrasound procedure. The Logansport Great Banquet #60 team prayed for me while unknowingly, I was developing the very serious blood clot that day. My church family gathered the Sunday prior to the surgery to pray for me. It was very humbling. I felt God’s presence. Lack of words describes a neighbor, Diana Kitchel having a surprise prayer vigil the evening before my surgery for neighbors. Neighbors included many people from Wendi’s long time bible study at Carmel’s Northview Church, Greentown, Montpelier, Lucerne and South Indy. Neighbors covers a big area in God’s eyes. So many prayers have been answered.
A lady once stopped me and told me she didn’t know me; but she knew several people that did. She said, “God has really blessed you and our (her and her husband) prayers for you.” She hadn’t seen all the gifts and cards. Yet, she felt she was a part of my journey. So many have been apart of it.
Your challenge may not be a health issue; whatever the challenge(s) you face, the same God that has told Joshua to be bold and courageous and rely on him is the same. “These troubles are getting us ready for an eternal glory that will make all our troubles seem like nothing.” 2 Corinthians 4:17 (CEV)
Thankfully I have completed my treatment and am here to share my story. So many are not that fortunate. My wife and I have committed to train for this walk and will be my first one since my battle. Wont you join us in the fight? I humbly thank all of you for all of your support.
Pancreatic cancer has the lowest survival rate of all major cancers, at just 9%. This deadly disease has stolen our best and our brightest, but it can’t take away our determination.
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