Two Words Beat Three, Cancer-free!

On Monday (August 30, 2010), my medical oncologist told Lisa and me that I’m “cancer-free”. Those two words shattered the words “you have cancer”, that I first heard March 10, 2010. This strange journey has ended. I will still need a few months to fully regain my strength, endurance and energy, but being out from under the banner of “cancer patient” to “cancer survivor” is absolutely incredible.

I’ve learned a lot about myself, other people and God’s character. Personally, the human body is amazingly resilient. A lot of “parts”, muscles, glands, nerves and lymph nodes were surgically removed from my face, neck and shoulder. Although I have left facial paralysis, limited strength and range of motion issues in my arm and neck, my body is compensating and finally healing. Adjusting to the new, abrupt ‘normal’ is strange, but getting better each week. I would never have chosen cancer, but I’m glad God allowed it as I’ve learned so much in a short period of time. Lessons that I’ll be able to share with my three sons as Lisa and I continue to enjoy watching them grow up.

I’d love to know how many people prayed for me and my family during this strange time, certainly, hundreds. Thank you, thank you friends! God really does hear our prayers. He answers them on-time, never early, never later, on-time, His perfect time. The answers are not always what we think they should be. Lisa and I prayed with our pastor early on the morning before my first surgery and God’s answer was stage IV CxPA cancer. That’s not what we were expecting. I thought God might make the recovery period from that surgery even quicker than expected or perhaps not even necessary at the last minute. I was wrong.

The random acts of kindness, meals, notes, cards, gifts, visits, hugs and encouragement demonstrated by you my friends is wonderfully overwhelming and incredibly special. I am a blessed man. Throughout chemotherapy treatments and especially radiation, those gracious gestures lifted my spirit and gave me the determination not to quit. Lisa knows that I considered quitting a couple of times, either due to the frustration or pain. Thank you for being used by God to spur me on to get well.

God’s character is love, perfect love. As it says in John 3:16 “God loved the world this way: He gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him will not die but will have eternal life.” I love a lot of people, but I wouldn’t consider killing any one of my sons for anyone. God allowed his only son to die for us, that’s a perfect love. Here’s a cool video that tells the story of hope: http://www.billygraham.org/specialsections/graffiti/graffiti.asp

I titled this post as “Two Words Beat Three”, but one Word beats all words, Love.

Thank you friends for praying for me and caring for me when I could do neither for myself. I am grateful.

Love and press on, Rich

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Apollo 13 & Cancer

One hundred and sixty days ago, I was diagnosed with stage IV carcinoma ex pleomorphic adenoma (CxPA) cancer. My health care team performed three aggressive surgeries, radiation, chemotherapy and other targeted therapies. Over the past several weeks, since initial treatments concluded, I’ve been waiting to physically heal enough so I could get tests to determine if the cancer is gone. This week, I had a two medical examinations, blood work, PET and CT scans. On Monday, August 30th I’ll receive the results, prognosis and next steps.

I love the 1995 Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon and Bill Paxton movie Apollo 13. It’s a documentary style movie about the near lost of the three astronauts from the 1970 NASA mission to the moon. “Houston, we’ve had a problem” is a classic line from that event. Over the years, I’ve called times in my life when I had to wait to see if something was going to turnout the “Apollo 13 Principle”. The Apollo 13 Principle is essentially that awkward feeling when we don’t know how something will come out and when we are not in full control of the process.

Neither mission control or the astronauts were in full control when the spacecraft lost radio communication and was traveling on the dark side of the moon. Thankfully, Gene Kranz, Flight Director, led his team to a successful conclusion.

I am confident that Jesus Christ, who causes all thing to work together for good for those who love him, will be glorified in whatever the outcome may be (Romans 8:28).

On another note, reconstruction is in full swing at Digital Lightbridge. The new space, upgrades and improvements will provide our amazing clients, employees and business partners with a great, unique experience when the work is complete.

Two weeks ago, Chandler began high school and Mitchell started middle school. Lisa has them off to a great start. Our foster son is enrolled in a nice preschool and a program at a local elementary school. God continues to protect him for his birth-parents by keeping them incarcerated.

Today, the boys are shooting another “Army” movie in the backyard and Lisa served women in an domestic violence shelter. Tonight, we are taking friends out to dinner.

We all have Apollo 13 moments in our lives, times when we absolutely have no control over a situation. That’s the perfect time to patiently wait upon the Lord to perform a miracle.

Press on my friends, Rich

Five Months

We spent Lisa’s birthday at her best friend’s house in Canton, Georgia. Her super husband and beautiful daughters gave Lisa a very special memory. It’s awesome that they’ve been inseparable “sisters” for over thirty years.

Yesterday, marked five months since my cancer was diagnosed. I thought that by now my “side effects” would be a faded memory. My energy level is still very low and unpredictable. The pain and discomfort in my head, neck and shoulder is only tolerable after significant mediation.

Thankfully, this week we are in a very restful place. Our friends, Julie and John Faulkner have allowed us to vacation for a week in their beautiful Waynesville, North Carolina cabin. Lisa, the boys and I have enjoyed peaceful times relaxing in rocking chairs on their back porch listening to the creek and watching hummingbirds. We’ve explored quaint nearby towns, National parks, eaten farm fresh fruit and vegetables and the boys enjoyed an afternoon at Sliding Rock.

This additional recuperation time gives me lots of hours to think about lots of different things.

Most of us have had a moment during our lives where we thought that we should have died. Whether a car accident, terrible illness or some other “near-miss”. The fragileness of life becomes very real in those moments. The key to life is knowing where we’ll spend eternity. This leg of my journey is a vapor, a puff of smoke, a short excursion when compared to forever. Where do we find real hope to make sense of this crazy world, something that we can really trust in? The government? Our careers? People? Money? Stuff? Intellect? The only thing that passes the test is a person named Jesus Christ. Knowing about Him is not enough. I know about airplanes, but you surely don’t want me to pilot a plane, especially if you’re the passenger. Knowing is the start, experiencing a trusting, perfect, loving relationship can be your hope, comfort, confidence and assurance.

On August 23rd, I have a PET scan and blood work and a CT scan on the 25th; we get the results and next steps from the oncology team on Monday, August 30th. The outcome is in God’s hands. Perhaps He’ll radically heal me from this rare, stage IV (CXPA) cancer. Maybe, He’ll want me (and my family) to go through another series of treatments (second mile). Whatever the course may be, I am really content knowing that God is in control and that He’s being glorified through this faith journey.

On Thursday, July 29th, we received the permit to begin reconstruction of Digital Lightbridge. Anclote Construction began the process the next morning! The aesthetic and functional improvements will advance our ability to serve clients and provide them with critical business, marketing and communications solutions to advance their organizations.

Digital Lightbridge’s stalwart board of directors has continued to provide Lisa and I and my team with incredible important perspectives that drive long-term client and employee value.

Please also lift up our foster son (3 1/2 years old) in prayer. He needs protection from his birth parents and the “system”. His mother was just released from jail yesterday and his father will be incarcerated for a long time (new charges sentenced yesterday). They need our prayers as well. Lisa, the boys and I went into foster parenting as our family ministry, with the idea that we could help young, struggling parents gain life skills. To date, we have not been able to meet our foster son’s birth parents due to their active drug and severe criminal activities.

Chandler (14 years old) starts high school and Mitchell (11 years old) starts middle school on Monday, August 16th!

Thank you for the prayer support and continued notes of encouragement.

Press on dear friends, Love Rich

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