7 Years Cancer-free!

My cancer journey with Stage IVc Carcinoma Ex Pleomorphic Adenoma began on March 10, 2010. For six horrific months, I endured 3 surgeries, daily head and neck radiation treatments, and weekly chemotherapy. Wow, a lot has happened over the past seven years and most significantly regarding my health, I now have an update to share. After finally reaching the annual follow-up schedule with my oncologist and surgeon, I continue to be cancer-free! A lot of “parts”, muscles, glands, nerves and lymph nodes were surgically removed from my face, neck, and shoulder. I have left facial paralysis, limited strength, and range of motion issues in my arm and neck, my body is compensating and continuing to heal. Adjusting to the new, ‘normal’ is strange, but getting better.

I have launched a website called CXPA Cancer Foundation. Its goal is to distill and provide relevant information, encouragement and hope to cancer patients and their caregivers. Please check it out and let us know what you think: www.cxpacancer.com. I’m beginning to add a passionate, medical advisory board to the Foundation. Thankfully, I’ve connected with dozens of amazing people who’ve been impacted by carcinoma ex pleomorphic adenoma and related cancers.

My three sons are doing great; Chandler is working and completing his Associates’ degree this semester, Mitchell started his first full-time job as a mechanic at a great dealership and plans to start Technical College in a few weeks, and Tristan started fifth grade and looks forward to his science class.

Thankfully, my incredibly talented team at Digital Lightbridge continues to be blessed with many new and exciting organizations to serve, brand and guide towards success. Last April, Digital Lightbridge celebrated its 16th anniversary.

Thank you to everyone who has encouraged me and my boys during this strange, horrible, wonderful and incredible journey.

Love and press on, Rich

Biopsy & 2,190 Days

Hey friends,

In July, during what has now become routine visits with my surgeon, Dr. Steiniger and his staff were finishing the exam and just about to say “See you in six months…”, when he said “Oh, that doesn’t look normal and hasn’t been there before.” He said I had a very unusual, large lesion on my jaw behind my back right, bottom teeth. For a month, we treated the lesion with a topical steroid. During the 30-day follow-up exam, the oral lesion did not respond to the treatment and much appeared larger. He recommended that we schedule an excisional biopsy. I prayed for a moment and said “How quickly can we do it?” Dr. Steiniger paused and then said to his assistant, “Let’s prep Richard and do it now.” Topical anesthesia, several injections into the jaw and then the abnormal tissue was surgically removed. Then comes the waiting. Thankfully, I was immediately flooded with reminders of God’s faithfulness and purposes in every trial that we experience.

After a week of waiting for the results, early this morning, Dr. Steiniger called my cell phone and said… “Cancer-free!” The area will heal normally within a few weeks.

Cancer-free for six years (or 2,190 days)!!! Each day is truly a special gift.

Our three sons Chandler, Mitchell and Tristan are back in school, college student, high school senior, and fourth-grader!

Over the several years, we have foster-parented forty-eight different children. Some of the kids simply spend the night with us after their parents’ arrest. A few have stayed with us for a few weeks until a relative makes accommodations for them. We had the joy of raising two brothers for three years. Thankfully, they were adopted last year into their incredible forever family. We miss them and think of them daily. Thankfully, we see them on Facebook and in-person regularly which always makes our day.

The incredible team at Digital Lightbridge continues to be blessed with many new and exciting organizations to serve, brand and guide towards success. Last April, Digital Lightbridge celebrated its 15th anniversary!

With my best friend John Faulkner we published the 14th issue of TwoTen Magazine! It is a simultaneous print and digital (web & iPad) publication aimed to challenge business leaders to manage their organizations from a Christian perspective and improve their effectiveness. The covers have featured Coach Tony Dungy, Tim Tebow, Dr. Ben Carson, Rev. Billy Graham, Willie Robertson, Shannon Bream, Gary LeVox, David Green and Dina Dwyer-Owens. It’s been very exciting traveling the country and telling the stories about what God does through His people.

Thank you to everyone who has encouraged Lisa, my boys and me during this strange, horrible, wonderful and incredible journey, especially over the past six years.

Love and press on, Rich

 

“You’re healed!”

Image

Hey friends,
I’m sorry that I haven’t shared on this blog in over a year. Wow, a lot has happened and most significantly regarding my health, I now have an update to share. After finally reaching the six month follow-up schedule with my oncologists, I had a PET-CT scan in May 2014 that revealed some troublesome results. My doctor and the imaging technicians identified abnormal lymph nodes in my neck. They’d been watching them for a few months and this scan delivered the findings. We discussed potential surgical options and perhaps radiation treatment. We decided to wait a few months and check them again and determine the extent of the reoccurrence. On September 10, 2014, I had another whole body, PET-CT and on September 12th I met with my oncologist. Their office was very busy for a late Friday afternoon. I waited in the lobby for almost an hour, which felt like a day. I watched patients walking in and out in various stages of treatment; the newly diagnosed, the critical ill and frail. I thought, here we go again. My turn to be ‘that guy’, the sick friend with cancer. I though about my kids and the important moments in their lives that I might miss. I thought of my wife, Lisa and how she’d have to become my caregiver, again. I waited and began to pray. I asked God to heal me or give me the right attitude to face cancer again. I waited, come on people, when is my turn. Finally the nurse called me “Mr. Hayes, the doctor is ready to see you,” which really means, you now sit in the little room, alone.They checked my weight, blood pressure and temperature. I filled out a clipboard checklist and waited a bit more.

Dr. Hochman entered the room, shook my hand, sat at the computer and open the screen to the diagnostic scans. He said that “the lymph nodes have resolved themselves.” I said “resolved themselves, what does that mean?” He said, “well I guess you’d say, you’re healed, no cancer or tumors”. Whoa! I was blown away. In a moment, my trajectory was changed, again. He completed the exam and said, “well, now you graduate to nine-month follow-up appointments!”

I jumped into my Jeep and called Lisa and shared the good news with her. I sat in the parking lot for a few minutes and reflected on the significance of the day. God spared me yet again from an insidious disease that once occupied my every thought.  Every day, every moment, every interruption, every relationship and every opportunity to serve someone else comes from the God who created the universe.

Lisa and I have started a foundation called CXPA Cancer Foundation. It’s goal is to distill and provide relevant information, encouragement and hope to cancer patients and their caregivers.   Please check it out and let us know what you think: http://www.cxpacancer.com Thankfully, we have connected with a few wonderful people who’ve been impacted by carcinoma ex pleomorphic adenoma. We pray that God will ministry to them through us.

Overall, my energy-level and strength continues to slowly improve. In March, I began a new, pain management therapy regiment with a great doctor, which includes new pain medications and quarterly, peripheral nerve blocks. Below are two images from my most recent series of injections.

peripheral nerve blocks imaging screen                               peripheral nerve block imaging

Our three sons Chandler, Mitchell and Tristan are back in school, college freshmen, high school sophomore, and second grader!

Over the past five and half years, we have foster-parented over forty different children. Some of the kids simply spend the night with us after their parents’ arrest. A few have stayed with us for a few weeks until a relative makes accommodations for them. We’ve had the joy of having two brothers for over two years. We pray that God soon opens the door and allows them to live with their forever family soon.

Last summer, after living in the same house for fifteen years, we moved into a home that we call it the Second Chance Ranch. It significantly helps us foster-parent more effectively.

Thankfully, my incredible team at Digital Lightbridge continues to be blessed with many new and exciting organizations to serve, brand and guide towards success. Last April, Digital Lightbridge celebrated its 13th anniversary.

Today, with my best friend John Faulkner we published the ninth issue of TwoTen Magazine! It is a simultaneous print and digital (web &  iPad) publication aimed to challenge business leaders to manage their organizations from a Christian perspective and improve their effectiveness. The covers have featured Coach Tony Dungy, Tim Tebow, Dr. Ben Carson, Rev. Billy Graham, Willie Robertson, Shannon Bream, Gary LeVox, David Green and Dina Dwyer-Owens. It’s been very exciting traveling the country and telling the stories about what God does through His people.

Thank you to everyone who has encouraged me, Lisa and my boys during this strange, horrible, wonderful and incredible journey.

Love and press on, Rich

Significant Milestone

Hey friends,

Drumroll please… It’s three-years today (August 30, 2010) since my medical oncologist; Dr. Robbins first told Lisa and me that I’m “100% cancer-free”. Last week I had a routine PET-CT scan and yesterday received the results and examination from Dr. Hochman. I try not to take this ‘miracle’ lightly. Every day, every moment, every interruption, every relationship and every opportunity to serve someone else comes from the God who created the universe.

Overall, my energy-level and strength continues to improve.

Our three sons Chandler, Mitchell and Tristan are back in school, high school senior, freshmen and first grade! When I was first diagnosed, not seeing Chandler graduate was a real possibility.

Over the past two years, we have foster-parented 36 different children. Some of the kids simply spend the night with us after their parents’ arrest. A few have stayed with us for a few weeks until a relative makes accommodations for them. We had the joy of having two brothers for about a year.

In August 1998, Lisa and I built and moved into a new home. A few weeks ago, through a series of amazing circumstances including an online real estate auction, we moved. We call the home the Second Chance Ranch. It will significantly help us foster-parent more effectively.

Thankfully, my incredible team at Digital Lightbridge continues to be blessed with many new and exciting organizations to serve, brand and guide towards success. Last April, Digital Lightbridge celebrated its 12th anniversary.

Lisa and I have started a foundation called CXPA Cancer Foundation. Its goal is to distill and provide relevant information, encouragement and hope to cancer patients and their caregivers.   Please check it out and let us know what you think: www.cxpacancer.com

Last year, my best friend John Faulkner and I co-founded a national magazine called TwoTen. It is a simultaneous print and digital (web &  iPad) publication aimed to challenge business leaders to manage their organizations from a Christian perspective and improve their effectiveness. The covers have featured Coach Tony Dungy, Tim Tebow, Dr. Ben Carson and Billy Graham. It’s been very exciting traveling the country and telling the stories about what God does through His people.

Thank you to everyone who has encouraged me, Lisa and my boys during this strange, horrible, wonderful and incredible journey.

Love and press on, Rich

Happy New Infection!

Well, the new year started out without a hint that God was about to show me, yet again, that He is really in control of everything. My first day back to work after the Christmas and New Year’s Eve break was Wednesday, January 2, 2013. Early that morning after my quiet-time with the Lord, I prayed for God show me how He planned to use me in the brand new year. The balance of that day was thankfully, pretty smooth. My employees arrived, we had a time of fellowship by sharing with each other about what each person did during the holidays, we had an operations meeting and then we got to work designing and developing marketing programs. I was excited about the new year, but a bit anxious and determined to start the year off with new sales and ministry opportunities. That day we has received from our printer, the second issue of TwoTen Magazine featuring Tim Tebow. The next morning, I was the keynote speaker at Real Estate Lives, a non-profit organization that serves real estate professionals in Tampa Bay. Real Estate Lives is led by two of my friends Ron Weaver, attorney at Stearns Weaver Miller and Bruce Jonas, CEO of Masters Construction. The attendees at the event were great people. The balance of that day was filled with client meetings. I decided to take Friday off and spend the day with Lisa. Saturday was a typically day for the Hayes family, our older sons sleep-in (teenagers!) while our foster sons ( brothers, 1 and 3 years old) and Tristan were up early to take on the day. That evening I wasn’t feeling well and thought that I was catching a winter cold or sinus infection. On Sunday morning, I skipped church and slept-in most of the day. On Monday morning, my alarm went off at 5:00am and as I was preparing for work, I looked in the mirror and noticed that the left side of my face and eye was very red and beginning to swell. This concerned me because the irritation was precisely in the areas were I had cancer and radiation. I went to my office and did some work, then I called my surgeon’s office and they agreed to see me as their first appointment that morning. Dr. Steiniger examined me and was concerned also. He prescribed oral antibiotics and said that if the infection got worse to the hospital. The antibiotics made me sick and by Tuesday morning, the infection was growing. That morning I called my oncologist’s office and they got me in early to see Dr. Hochman. He immediately concurred that I need to be admitted to the hospital. So off Lisa and I went to the emergency room, where coincidentally, everyone in my town was as due to an outbreak of the flu. After several hours of waiting, I was finally admitted, where the incredible nursing and admissions staff began to triage symptoms and diagnosis my condition through blood-work, vitals and a CAT scan. That afternoon, I was admitted to room and given a series of antibiotics through an IV. On Wednesday morning, I met with the hospital’s infectious disease specialist who was concerned that the infection was entering my left eye and brain. He increased the volume and mix of antibiotics. By Thursday morning, the infection was worse, the antibiotics weren’t working fast enough. The medical team supplemented my intravenous therapy with my old friend, injections in the stomach. Thankfully, by late Thursday evening and early Friday morning the infection subsided enough to be discharged, hooray!

So, what was the lesson for me, why did God cause or allow this to happen? Why did He put me in a hospital bed for a week at the beginning of a new year, instead of the marketplace where I could make things happen? I believe He was wanting to prove that He was in control and I wasn’t. I wasn’t in control of my health, schedule or plans, again. In that hospital room, I rededicated the businesses that I manage to God.

The next week, was full of opportunities that I could have never imagined or planned in my own strength. I also met a special guy in my hospital room, that I hope will become a long-time friend.

Thank you to everyone who has encouraged me and my boys during this strange, horrible, wonderful and incredible journey.

Love and press on, Rich

731 Days – Cancer-free

Hey friends,

It’s been two-years today since my medical oncologist; Dr. Robbins told Lisa and me that I’m “100% cancer-free”. It’s still humbling, frustrating, unbelievable and thrilling. If this sounds like a broken-record, I’m glad. Cancer survivors don’t like drama.

April of this year, we had another faith-building moment of truth. A month prior, I discovered a significant lump in my neck, just left of my Adam’s apple (laryngeal prominence). My surgeon, Dr. Steiniger immediately sent me for a full-body PET-CT scan and consultation with my oncologists. They determined that it was non-cancerous (whew!), but it was growing and needed to come-out (oh crap!). On April 9th, I had an in-office surgical procedure to remove the mass, which was apparently a disturbed lymph node (for the record, I do not recommend having your neck cut open without anesthesia). A week later, the stitches came out. Thankfully the surgeon was able to use my existing scar for the incision. Overall, my energy-level and strength continues to improve.

The past 12 months have been incredibly active and fruitful. Last October, Lisa and I were able to attend the C12′s 2011 Leadership Conference in Orlando at the Gaylord Palms. I was asked to speak at a breakout session to their national audience, about the miraculous healing that I received from stage IV cancer, which is ironic since the left side of my face is paralyzed and talking in a clear manner is a challenge.

In November, we were finally able to adopt Tristan Isaiah, just after his 5th birthday! on a Sunday in December we celebrated his adoption into our family with a special service at our church, Riverside Baptist Church followed by a catered luncheon attended by the entire church, family and special friends. Here’s a video that we created that starts with the day we met Ty through his adoption day.

On February 1st, Lisa and I celebrated our 20th anniversary. Typically, most couples seem to make a big deal out of their 25th anniversary, and they should. Two years prior, when we were facing my “terminal diagnosis” we made our 20th anniversary a goal/milestone to achieve. I planned a vow renewal ceremony and reception at the Vinoy Renaissance Resort in St. Petersburg. In early March, we had the shindig and it was attended by our immediate family and friends. The next morning Lisa and I set-sail for an 8-day Caribbean cruise!

Our three sons Chandler, Mitchell and Tristan are back in school, high school junior, 8th grade and Kindergarten!

Thankfully, business at Digital Lightbridge continues to be blessed with many new and exciting organizations to serve, brand and guide towards success. In April, Digital Lightbridge celebrated its 11th anniversary and opened a second Marketing Showroom in Tampa.

Over the past four months, we have foster-parented about a dozen different children. Some of the kids simply spend the night with us after their parents’ arrest. A few have stayed with us for a few weeks until a relative makes accommodations for them. We have had the joy of having a brother and sister twice. Presently, we have a five-month old boy that we call Jack. He’s the product of a typical scenario; unwed biological mother on drugs, multiple half-siblings that are scattered about the country, an uninvolved, abusive biological father that is frequently incarcerated. Jack is a wonderful, happy, independent little boy that is currently and thankfully unaware of his circumstances. I look forward to taking him for a walk around our neighborhood tonight.

I have also begun to understand the opportunity that I have been given to share what I’ve learned about the particular disease that I had, stage IV carcinoma ex pleomorphic adenoma (CxPA) cancer. Recently, two celebrities (rapper Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys and journalist Barbara Callahan) died after losing their battle with salivary gland cancer. Lisa and I have been led to start a foundation called CXPA Cancer Foundation. It’s goal is to distill and provide relevant information and encouragement to cancer patients and their caregivers.

Next week, my business partners and I are launching a national magazine called TwoTen. It is a simultaneous print and digital (web &  iPad) publication aimed to challenge business leaders to manage their organizations from a Christian perspective and improve their effectiveness.

Thank you to everyone who has encouraged me and my boys during this strange, horrible, wonderful and incredible journey.

Love and press on, Rich

365 Days Cancer-free

Hey friends,

It’s been one year today since my medical oncologist, Dr. Robbins told Lisa and me that I’m “100% cancer-free”. It’s still humbling, frustrating, unbelievable and thrilling.

Our three sons Chandler, Mitchell and Tristan are back in school, high school sophomore, 7th grade and pre-K… whew! We continue to pray that Ty’s adoption is finalized this year.

Thankfully, business at Digital Lightbridge continues to be blessed with many new and exciting organizations to serve, brand and guide towards success. In April, Digital Lightbridge celebrated its 10th anniversary.

I continue to speak publicly about the miraculous healing that I received from stage IV cancer, which is ironic since the left side of my face is paralyzed and talking in a clear manner is a challenge. On Thursday, September 15th, I’ll be speaking in Tampa at the Lake Magdalene United Methodist Church during their business luncheon and on Friday, October 28th, I’ll be speaking in Orlando at the Gaylord Palms at the C12’s 2011 Leadership Conference.

Thank you to everyone who has cheered me and my family on during this strange, horrible, wonderful and incredible experience.

Press on friends, Rich

Plans

One year ago today, a freak accident destroyed half of Digital Lightbridge’s building and nearly killed a few people. As I think back on all of the things that were going on in my life then, I realize how out-of-control I was and how in-control God was. I had just started chemotherapy, injections and radiation for stage IV cancer. I was physically very sick, weak and still trying to comprehend the reality of my circumstances. Lisa and I met with attorneys to ensure that my life insurance and wills were adequate. That morning, started as most do for me, I had my early morning quiet-time with the Lord, then a meeting with a colleague, then the horrific, loud crash! At approximately 10:30am, an elderly man drove through the front of the office (fire department estimated 45 mph), hit Robin and continued into the office until the front of his car terminated at my desk. Thankfully, I was in the conference room and Robin was miraculously spared physically trauma.

This morning as I read from the devotional “Handbook to Leadership” by Kenneth Boa, the author included Jeremiah 29:11; “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” It was a great reminder this morning, on the one year anniversary of the day that it appeared that my life was passing due to cancer and my business was destroyed, that God is committed to our personal welfare and security.

Digital Lightbridge celebrated its 10th anniversary with two Open Houses on April 27 & 28, 2011. Our friends from Oasis Coffee Spot and Buddy Brew Coffee created an incredible coffee bar and treated our guests to unique caffeinated drinks. Thank you to everyone who attended and the made the events so special.

Yesterday, I had a three month check-up with my radiation oncologist Dr. Hochman at the Florida Cancer Institute. Lisa and Chandler surprised me and met me there. We had a long wait so Lisa left to pick-up Tristan. Chan and I got checked-in and waited some-more. Dr. Hochman confirmed that the PET scan that I had last week was 100% cancer-free and that I continue to recover ahead of his expectations.

Press on friends, Love, Rich

Anniversaries

Hey friends,

It’s been one year (Wednesday, March 10, 2010) since I was diagnosed with stage IV cancer during the first surgery. Wow! A lot has changed since then. I continue to have regular medical and oncology appointments. I am 100% cancer-free. I’ve been receiving physical therapy for the past few months for my head, neck and shoulder. I’m gaining strength, mobility and relief from the lymphadema.

From a business perspective, January 2011 took off like a rocket! Digital Lightbridge has been blessed with many new, exciting clients and ministries to serve. Our showroom sales approach is effective. In April, Digital Lightbridge will celebrate its 10th year serving world-class organizations. I continue gain great wisdom and perspective from Digital Lightbridge’s board of directors.

The wonderful Tampa Bay magazine Overflow ran a story entitled “Beating the Odds with God” in their January 2011 issue. Getting over being photographed with my new appearance was interesting. I’ve been encouraged by the comments from their kind readers.

On February 1st, Lisa and I celebrated our nineteen wedding anniversary. We went on an amazing eight-day, eastern Caribbean cruise. Thankfully, my father-in-law Darrell and Brenda watched the three boys during the week and my beautiful sister Stacey took the weekend shifts. This was our eighth cruise and best!

I’ve been asked to speak publicly quite a bit over the past several months about the miraculous healing that I received, which is ironic since the left side of my face is paralyzed and talking in a clear manner is a challenge. In January, I was blessed to speak to Somebody Cares Pasco at the Salvation Army. On Monday, April 4, 2011, I’ll be speaking to Pastor Glen Gammon’s men’s group at Countryside Christian Center in Clearwater and on Saturday, April 30, 2011, I’ll be speaking to the American Cancer Society at St. Leo University.

Late last week, I was asked by the Florida Cancer Institute and Caris Life Sciences to participate in a clinical trail on my particular cancer (carcinoma ex pleomorphic adenoma (CxPA)). On Sunday, I was given a vision to start an organization called CXPA Cancer Foundation. The goal of the foundation will be to provide cancer patients, survivors and their caregivers with timely information about carcinoma ex pleomorphic adenoma, head and neck cancers, treatments options, health and disability insurance, my personal story and ultimately where real hope and healing can be found.

In some ways, I can’t believe its been a year since my diagnosis. Time went by incredibly fast. I remember when I was a kid and my grandmother would tell me that “when you get older time goes by faster”, she was right. Even in the midst of the dire uncertainty last year, each day was only 24 hours long. Each day only contained enough trouble for me and Lisa to handle at that moment. And now, with 12 months of perspective, I can see a hint of God’s plan. His perspective is not limited by time or circumstances. He is the author of time and life. As our Father, He only gives us what He wants us, as His children, to manage at each moment. Matthew 6:34 says “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today”. The statement “Today’s trouble is enough for today” for me means, don’t run scenarios out in your head about what you want God to do for you, I think He just wants us to really trust Him right now, in the moment and know that He is God, we are not and that He will work things out in his timing for our good.

Yesterday morning, during the weekly Bible study at my office. I admitted to the guys that my faith was so small last year, that even though I knew that God was capable of healing me, I didn’t fully accept it. On August 30, 2010, when Lisa and I went into our oncologist’s office to finally hear the report after the first post-treatments PET scan, I honestly expected to hear one-of-three things from him; more treatments, more surgery or there is nothing more we can do. When Dr. Robbins said “Your not in remission, your simply cancer-free.” I couldn’t believe it. My mind had begun to accept the “reality of my circumstances” – terminal stage IV cancer. But then, Truth showed up and reset my reality. That day reminds me of when the disciples were in the boat with Jesus (and He was sleeping) and the massive, violent storm tossed their vessel around and they believed the “reality of their circumstances”. As very experience, hearty fishermen, the disciples, although they literally had the Savior of the world in their boat, their faith was so small that they were terrified and feared death (Matthew 8:23-27). Today, with Jesus in our “boat of life”, in our every circumstance (big or small), we can be confident (with a little faith) that He will not forget us or allow us to be alone in our fear. I say all of this with love and mostly as a reminder to myself.

Later today, I continue my cancer journey with blood work/tests at the cancer center, an appointment with my medical oncologist next week and my surgeon (Dr. Steiniger) later in the month.

Thank you again to everyone who has walked with me and my family during this strange, horrible, wonderful and miraculous experience. We continue to covet your prayers and notes of encouragement.

Press on friends, Rich

Three months!

Hey friends, I can’t believe that it’s been three months since I’ve updated this Blog. Thankfully, I’ve been working hard to return to a normal schedule.

In September, Lisa and I took a nice three-day weekend trip to Sarasota. My beautiful sister Stacey watched the boys. After a full-day court hearing our foster son’s parent’s rights were legally terminated. Soon he will be available for adoption. This situation is our biggest prayer request. We want to make-certain that we are continuing to follow God’s will and not our own. In 27 days, he will have lived with us for two years and over half of his life.

In October, a great group of guys from my church and office (and Mitchell) attended a Impact for Living Men’s conference at Idelwild in Tampa hosted by Tony Dungy, Nathan and Scott Whitaker. Lisa got to getaway for a “girls weekend” with her best friend Michelle in Georgia. On October 14th, I spoke to a group of business-owners at the historic La Teresita Restaurant on behalf of Somebody Cares Tampa Bay. In late October, after a MRSA infection, I got to take my Dad to a Tampa Bay Buccaneers game for his birthday, they won! Also in late October, God led Lisa and me to help a single-Mom with three young daughters. I met her one evening when her car was broken-down in front of my office. We’ve been in contact with her daily since then. This week she got a job! She and her girls have a long way to go to simply have a consistent and safe place to sleep, but God continues to provide. This opportunity is another big prayer request, for Lisa and me to lean solely on God’s direction and wisdom in how to help, not enable, but encourage and perhaps be part of the transformation of these four beautiful lives. It’s been a great experience thus far. All three of the boys have played important roles in this work. Spending time with people that have regretfully made poor decisions early in their lives has changed their perspectives in a positive way.

In November, I traveled to Chicago to meet with a client and mentor friend of mine, Bob Mack. Lisa and my staff attended the annual Family First Champions Dinner keynoted by Dave Ramsey and artist Michael W. Smith. For Chandler’s 15th birthday party, we had an all-night lock-in at Digital Lightbridge . The kids stayed-up all night playing Xbox on the big screens. My family, Lisa’s Dad and Brenda spent Thanksgiving and three days in Sarasota. The weather was awesome and we ate at the Columbia Restaurant in St. Armand’s Circle everyday. Darrell and I highly recommend their Merluza “A la Rusa”!

In December, Lisa and the Digital Lightbridge team attended the 15th Anniversary Gala for Somebody Cares Tampa Bay. The event celebrated the ministry of our dear friends Kathy and Daniel Bernard. This past Saturday morning (December 4, 2010), I had an MRI and a PET/CT at Florida Cancer Institute on Monday. We got the results on Tuesday, December 7th and I’m 100% cancer-free. That evening, I had the privilege to share my testimony of God’s grace and healing miracle in my life with the C12 Group members and leaders in the greater Tampa Bay area at their annual Christmas  and Member of the Year Awards Celebration.

Lisa, the boys and I are looking forward to a quiet, simple Christmas. I am so thankful for my friends, prayer warriors, board of directors and colleagues who continue to encourage me. In many ways, this year was a faith test. Do I really believe that God’s is in control of everything, especially amidst storms of uncertainty, stage IV head and neck cancer and the car crash that destroyed part of my business. I can truly say that Jesus is worthy of our praise. He really is our provider. He is not subject to man’s ways. His economy is abundant and sufficient.

Merry Christmas and press on, Rich