Running & Seeing – an update for our friends
Merry Christmas, Family & Friends!
I hope that your celebration of history’s greatest gift in Jesus Christ has been as wonderful as ours has been. Our family has been blessed abundantly – over and above – and the girls have been enjoying new competition at the Foosball table all day long.
Jana and I have truly treasured the moments of this season unlike any previously, and the great peace we have been experiencing in the midst of our hardship has been the Lord’s sufficient provision and has rivaled reason. For sure, the surprising days of this past month have been filled with the miraculous, the utterly trying and heartbreaking, and hours upon hours of overwhelming awe and joy.
We wanted to give you a quick update on what we have come to know about my health in the past week and to unleash this site – my running blog – as the new hub of all things related to the battle we are waging. I encourage you to prayerfully consider following my blog and joining in our effort to battle brain cancer, specifically Anaplastic Oligodendroglioma, and cancer in general. Jana and I have come to realize the powerful community of family, friends, educational and financial institutions, medical resources, athletic associations, and the foundational cornerstone of of our life, Christianity — altogether which have us scratching our heads and asking the Lord: “What would you have us do? How can we glorify you?” And responding, “Here am I!” And “Send me!” Far from wondering “Why me?” I lay awake at night inspired by the cross of Christ, and daily reflecting with Paul that “to live is Christ; to die is gain.”
These, of course, are no light words – and they come at the greatest cost – of this Jana and I are all too aware. And at the same time, the call of Jesus Christ has always been clear: “If you would follow after me, take up your cross.” I am convinced beyond doubt that the Lord has a perfect plan unfolding in these present events, and I am very self-aware and confident that I will follow Him wherever He leads. And as I have mentioned regarding the Competitor’s Creed by which I live my life, “My efforts must result in His glory.” Otherwise, these words, my tens of thousands of miles run, my several victorious moments and mountaintop ascents, are all smoke and fleeting vanity – of no more purpose than dying on a mountaintop alone. As Jana and I have talked about over the years, we will pursue the highest ideal in this one life – and I am certain that Jesus Christ is the only “way, the truth and the life. There is no way to the Father except through Him.” (John 14:6) He is the light of the world, and I will follow Him anywhere he leads.
With this vision – this “Seeing” – let me go back and summarize the “Running” component of our current journey — namely, what we know about the particular battle against brain cancer we are engaged in. After a successful tumor resection in which “98% of the tumor was removed” at Cottage Hospital on 12/14 and a 2 day stint in the hospital, we had our follow-up appointment with Dr. John Park, the miracle worker Neuro-surgeon, this past Friday. This was a surreal and heart-stopping meeting, for my very life-span hung in the balance of the doctor’s remarks. We entered the room knowing that we may leave with heartbreaking knowledge. But the doctor began to spell out an astounding answer to our prayers. We had been praying the night before for a grade 3 tumor – just a grade 3, Lord! As Dr. Park detailed the findings of the Tumor Board who had just convened and counseled on my case (incredibly) for 45 minutes, he expressed the cautiously optimistic opinion that I had a grade 3 Anaplastic Oligodendroglioma: “the best kind of malignant tumor to have if you’re going to have one.” For just a moment for the first time in a month, Jana and I squeezed each other’s hands in a momentary breath of respite. Then, the relief lifting with the understanding that I have stage 3 malignant brain cancer set in. Nevertheless, the Lord had again proved sufficient for the day. He is ever good; he always keeps His promises.
As mentioned, the pending diagnosis is what is called an “AOD” or and Oligo – both short for Anaplastic Oligodendroglioma. Though the grading is different than other primary brain tumors, the diagnosis is akin to a grade III tumor, and the standard of care is a 6-week targeted radiation and a long long road of chemotherapy. There are still several outstanding variables which will majorly impact my prognosis, including genetic and DNA mutations. If present in my tumor, these mutations promise much better treatment outlook than otherwise. Thus, we still don’t know the bottom line, but we do know that the Lord has graciously threaded the needle so that at this present moment, we are not staring down the dreaded Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM). I nearly hesitate to even type those words, but I do so because as I enter this fight, I do so on behalf of all of those who are in this singular battle and in a united manner – so that they will each know that a new advocate is on the scene in my family, and that we bring compassion and hope and love and resources as well as an unwavering faith in Jesus Christ, the “only true shelter.”
So, this is what we know today – and when the genetic tests come back, we will again update you about what we come to know to be the bottom line. We greatly appreciate your concern and prayers and the love you each have shared in your singular ways. The loving foundations of our relationships which have been clearly exhibited through your impactful actions have so blessed us, that we cannot begin to express our gratitude. Thank you!
Lastly, I would encourage you to check out a few sites and to pray about following my blog (just enter your email in the right sidebar where you are prompted to follow.) I have long been at work on a book project of the same title as this post: “Running & Seeing.” Check out the page at the top of the blog to see more about this work which is currently in front of several publishers. I am confident that this work will be impactful in this struggle to win against the illnesses I have catalogued. One other important site I’d like to encourage you to check out is the organization “Oligo Nation.” Founded in 2009, Oligo Nation was established specifically to fight Oligodendrogliomas. I plan to bring the fight and all that I have alongside of this organization to bless their efforts and to push the ball forward for the next folks who suddenly find themselves in the fight.
I didn’t ask for the mohawk; it asked for me. But I will wear it. And I will never give up the fight to glorify Jesus Christ in the battle which has been tasked to me and my family. Thanks for reading, and may God richly bless you and encourage you this Christmas Day.