For many people, fighting cancer - and winning - once is enough. I'd say that in all the world, no one who has been through it once really ever wants to go through it ever again. I've watched friends die from leukemia, I've watched as others I know deal with their loved ones dying from this devastating disease. From the time I was declared to be in remission the first time until the beginning of 2012, I never thought I'd have to face this dreaded foe again. I stand by my earlier assertion that cancer is dishonorable. Since then, though, I've learned it's a fact of life in a fallen world. It happens not by design, but by the scourge of sin and its corrupting effect on all the world. There is nothing natural about your body going haywire. There is nothing normal about it, but it is still a part of life.
From around September 1996 until January 2012 I lived cancer-free, and I lived care-free. I picked up and quit smoking several times in the intervening years, dabbled in drugs and alcohol (almost losing myself to alcohol), and I engaged in some of the riskiest behavior I could envision. I gave most of that up in 2009 when I gave myself over to God and accepted the free gift of pardon that His Son paid for. My life wasn't instantly made better, and even today it's still a process of bringing me to completion, and I say all of this to lead into my story because my background has changed a lot since I told the story of the first time I had cancer circa April of 2003. Back then I still lived for myself and was involved in behaviors and activities that probably brought me closer to grave illnesses than I ever want to know. I guess part of me felt like I had to live life to the fullest and that I was bulletproof, having defeated cancer and all.
By 2012, I was doing a lot better though. I had just finished training in Industrial Electricity, I had been licensed for several months as a Limited License Electrician in the state of TN for about 4 months at that time, and life couldn't have been better. I had gotten married 12 March 2011 to a beautiful woman whom, while I had known her and of her for sometime, had never in the past considered her as a romantic interest. I love how God works, His ways are always better than ours. All was going well and I could not have thought life could have gotten any better, and though I was struggling financially, I knew God was in control and all I had to do was trust Him. Little did I know at the beginning of December 2011 that by the 23rd of that month I would break my arm causing what was termed a pathological fracture (in this case pathological means the fracture should not have happened given my activity that seemed to cause it). People say that men can never know the pain a woman goes through during child-birth, and while I do not want to diminish the struggle such a process can be, I will tell you right now passing a cantaloupe through my uretha would have been a lot less painful. Never before had an injury caused me to nearly black out in pain or so quickly bring me to my knees. What was I doing when I broke my arm? Helping one of my best friends take out the trash. I had picked up a half-full kitchen trash bag (literally maybe only 2-5lbs of trash) when it happened. Immediately I was taken to the Emergency Room at the local hospital where I was x-rayed and given an immediate referral back to an old friend, sort to speak. The very next month I was back in Vanderbilt University Medical Center's (VUMC) Medical Center East speaking to Dr. Schwartz, getting more x-rays and scheduling the biopsy. 27 January 2012 was around the time when I was given the news that I had Stage III osteosarcoma. I had bone cancer.
This is an x-ray taken at River Park showing the damage done to my arm. Of course the fracture is obvious, but what may not be obvious is the hole in my arm below the fracture (between it and the elbow joint). The bone is 'lighter' in the xray there because there is less bone to absorb the xrays then elsewhere. Compare to the bone below the joint and above the fracture.
For a short time I seriously considering having the surgeon amputate my arm. I was devastated. Had I not already beaten this foe? Had I not already paid my dues? Why was God allowing me to deal with this again? Why was this happening to me, just when I was getting my life in order? I knew, though, that if I was going to keep my arm, I had to let the surgeon and my new oncologist, Dr. Vicki Keedy, do what they do best and I just had to leave it in God's more than capable hands.
God has provided me with such a great support network, from my wife to my best friends to my family, and of course Himself. Without any of Him or any of them, I don't think I could have handled everything I've gone through. I beat cancer twice. The first time I did it on my own and by all rights I should have lost more than some hair. The second time I should have lost more than my ability to father children. Instead, I came out with a stronger faith in God and a deeper understanding of His Word and what it means.
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