Courage, Conviction, and Cancer

Our community was recently rocked by the news of a local leader’s unexpected cancer diagnosis. This man is an exceptionally healthy 40 year-old father and husband. He and his family are missionaries to Haiti and I’ve enjoyed multiple trips with them there. He has coached me in both health and fitness. We share a passion for nutrition and I’ve gleaned much wisdom from his expertise in that area. He is a close friend and for so many reasons, his diagnosis was shocking.

As we’ve supported our friend and his family through these new challenges and choices with cancer, I’ve observed his steadfast courage that stems from his faith and convictions. Under the immense pressures of life-changing decisions, I’ve been amazed by my friend’s commitment to his values. As you’ll read below, he is betting everything on his beliefs. His belief in God shines through his circumstances. His belief in God’s ability to heal through nutrition remains steadfast as well.

It begs the question, what convictions do I have that I’m willing to risk everything for? I hope that my trust in God would anchor me if I was clothed in my friend’s circumstances but until that happens, those thoughts are mere speculation. I wonder if I, like so many, would burn with bitterness toward God for allowing such suffering. My desire is that my trust in God’s loving character would remain and I would not rebel in my agony. But only pain would reveal the truth.

If I had cancer, I believe I would make similar choices as my friend, prioritizing God, family, and friends over all else. I believe I too would choose nutritional healing over the traditional recommendations. But my convictions will not be proven resolute until I too pass through the “refiner’s fire” of severe trials. First Peter 1:7 describes this purification process in the following way:

“These trials are only to test your faith, to see whether or not it is strong and pure. It is being tested as fire tests gold and purifies it—and your faith is far more precious to God than mere gold; so if your faith remains strong after being tried in the test tube of fiery trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day of his return.”

When our testing comes, may we all hold tightly to the beliefs that define us, releasing those that are eternally worthless. Even before heavy storms stampede through our circumstances, may we remain mindful and prioritize the time allotted us, investing in moments that matter.

May we all be inspired by my friend’s courage, conviction, and character as he advances through his current trial of cancer. For those of us watching him run this tiresome race, it is exhilarating seeing his faith glimmer as gold.

Here is my friend’s story in his own words:

We can all remember the day when we felt like life was changed forever. Good events and bad events happen that change us. I am talking about in all realms – physical, spiritual, emotional, relational, and mental. In 1982 as a 8-yr-old my life changed as I witnessed the extreme poverty in Haiti for the first time. In 1988, as a 14-yr-old my life changed as I stood up in the midst of a huge crowd of teenagers at Hume Lake Camp and committed my life to follow Jesus wherever he told me to go. In 2003, my life changed as I said “I Do” and married my wife after waiting patiently for 29 years. In 2006, my life changed again as I witnessed the miracle of childbirth and became a Daddy for the first time. In 2007, my life changed again as my family and I embarked on the uphill battle of trying to eat clean, unprocessed, organic, in-season food. In 2009, as a 35-yr-old, my life changed as I was let go from a job I greatly loved as a teacher and coach at Fresno Christian School. In addition, that same year my life changed as I stumbled upon CrossFit! Finally, in 2011 my life changed as we put up our house for sale, and moved to Haiti for 3 months so I could have a crash course lesson on how to direct a 65-yr-old ministry and a non-profit.

So once again my life is drastically changed as one month ago I was diagnosed with metastatic melanoma cancer. It is now an all out war with these cells that have mutated in my body and gone awry.

On Wednesday, we had an appointment to see a Doctor at UCSF. He surprised us and recommended no surgery and no radiation since the cancer has already spread to multiple places. As a leading expert in melananoma, his recommendation is to start using a combination of two potent drugs followed by “immune therapy.” The first drug has had a 50% success rate with patients, the second a 20% success rate in decreasing tumors. There are serious possible side effects, including blindness, heart failure, other auto-immune diseases and possible spreading of the cancer, to name a few. I would have to take these drugs for many years. The doctor was kind enough to say that the choice was mine and to let him know in a couple of days what direction I want to go. On a side note, these drugs are not cheap ($16,000 a month for one set and $120,000 for the other set).

From 1998-2000, I took a break from teaching and trained 100% in hopes of making the Olympic games in track & field. I had a strict training program that included specific nutrition and sleep. (I wish I had all my knowledge from CrossFit then). I did not make it to the Olympics, but I can never say “what if.”

Now I am in strict training again for a “gold medal” in wellness as I battle this cancer. I do not feel peace about taking the drugs recommended by UCSF. I have decided to commit to Gerson Therapy for at least two years as my method of treatment. My diet and sleep are very specific and I must follow the therapy exactly. So today we leave for San Diego to see Dr. Azar who is an M.D who is a also certified in Gerson Therapy. She will help us navigate some things in the therapy and make it specific for fighting my cancer.

I will leave you with this. No matter what, I want my Lord to be glorified in it all. It is not about the carrots, the coffee enemas, or any drugs for that matter. God is the Great Healer and I will trust in Him for His will. Whether training hard for a Crossfit competition, battling injustice in Haiti or fighting cancer, I will give it my very best with the tools that God has given me to ultimately give Him Glory.

Please keep my friend and his family in your prayers. To give toward their cancer related expenses, click here and note what you are giving for:

http://www.christianfriendshipministries.org/index.php?c=6

To follow his healing journey, click here:

http://www.alohagilmores.blogspot.com/

 

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7 thoughts on “Courage, Conviction, and Cancer

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