After his diagnoses there was a major surgery to remove the tumor, called the Whipple surgery (http://www.cancercenter.com/whipple-surgery.htm) which left him with permanent digestion problems which he still struggles with daily, 5 years later. After his surgery he had months and months of chemo and radiation which almost killed him a few times. All in hopes to give himself a few extra years. No one would have EVER thought that my precious miracle father would still be alive today. And not only alive but LIVING life.
I remember a time shortly after his chemo/radiation was over that he had his first body scan. The radiologist here in Lakeland brought him into his office and told him, I'm sorry John but its in your lungs (it was actually only scaring and the radiologist jumped the gun a bit). My dad came home from that and called my brother and I over and told us the news. We knew what it meant, we knew he would be dead within a matter of months. I crawled up into his lap and cried and cried and cried to this day the thought of this moment brings back so much deep pain its hard to re-tell the story. My life as I knew it was changing and I had no choice but to accept the cards that had been dealt. Shortly after this "finding" my dad started with a new doctor in M.D. Anderson in Texas. After his first trip out there and after MANY tests they concluded that what they saw in his lungs was NOT cancer but scar tissue and sure enough, they were correct, it was gone by the next scan. Another miracle moment for my father.
Through all of this my dad has changed. He's kinder, gentler, more carrying, more compassionate, and has a sweet passion for people going through the same diagnosis or ANY cancer diagnosis. His love for God and for life is not something he takes for granite. He is able to really enjoy his "good days." I couldn't even put into words all the struggles he still has and will continue to have until the day he dies but you wouldn't hear him complain to you about it. He's positive attitude and fight for his life is something to be admired.
My dad has always been the rock of our family and will continue to be. He is a wonderful example of what a father should look like. And God knew his work here wasn't finished just yet. God is so good and his healing is ONLY explained by the grace of God. My dad was in the 4% survival group, it still blows my mind.
I want to conclude with a little something I wrote in the depth of my pain when we felt like there was no hope. All we had was God's promises to hold onto and the hope that he would hear our cries.....
It's fascinating how God lays things on your heart at just the right moment to get you prepared for the news you will hear or the trials you will deal with. So when I feel God pulling on my heart I pray, I listen and I rejoice in the clarity of God - even in the mucky waters of my own mind. I just believe and let my soul rest ashore in the promises of God. I feel broken, I feel defeated and yet in all of it I feel calm and carried. When I feel like I have nothing left to give I am reminded that I am walking through this nightmare with the Savior of the world. I am grateful for the arms of God and the beautiful life that will once again be mine. So I look ahead and not behind and I am mindful of the tragedy and yet the beauty that is all around me. I prayerfully consider my road called "life" and I have learned to grieve when I need to and accept things as they come - all the while claiming healing and peace to every area of my life. I know that there is nothing like the Love of God and to really grasp that is my beautiful obsession. In the end I bind the fear that so easily entangles me and I place my cares in the God who holds the universe.
I love you dad, you are the strongest most courageous man I know. I am blessed to be your daughter. May all the days of my life be spent thanking God for you and for the way that you showed me that God is good, all the time. I'm so glad I've had 5 extra years to spend with you. I'm so glad you have been able to meet each and everyone of your grand children and for all the joy you bring us on a daily basis. I love you.