Story – Part 1

May 4, 2007

In 1997 I moved to Nashville to travel with a group based here. We served year round at camps, retreats and weekends for jr. & sr. high students. At the close of summer in 1999 we wrapped up the last camp for the season and headed for home.

As another fall approached I recalled the recent years where this particular season seemed to envelope a significant time of change in my life.

A new understanding of faith. A break from traditions and a fresh view of my relationship with the One I claimed to serve and know. The decision to go to college in Nashville or stay in Virginia Beach.

My story seemed to be shaken up when the leaves began to fall.

It was August and I remember praying and sensing that God was preparing me for the season in a much different way. Something was coming, something serious, and it was coming soon. The awareness was so strong that I called my mom and gave her a list of trusted friends and family back home that I asked to ask to pray.

A month later I was working at a weekend music festival. It was long, hard work but I enjoyed it. The average day was 18 hours, which naturally left me exhausted but always refreshed in the morning.

This time the weekend seemed to be kicking my butt. I felt horrible. My body ached, which wasn’t uncommon after a few 18 hour days working a show, but this was different. My back was hurting so much that it made me nauseous. After taking six Advil the pain was just as strong. It was so bad I was wrapped up in the fetal position and unable to drive.

One of the guys from the crew drove me home and the next morning I went to a mini-mall medical care facility. My condition was a little bit more than they were equipped to handle and were pretty concerned so they sent me immediately to the emergency room at the nearest hospital.

After arriving at the hospital the doctor examined me, prescribed some pain medication and then called to set an appointment with a specialist for the next day. The specialist did an ultrasound to try and diagnose what was happening and seemed to think it was a type of infection, epididimytis. They began treating me with antibiotics and gave me some prescription pain medication.

I went through the pain medication like candy and had to call the urologist back to get another prescription. And this wasn’t the one-step-over-the-counter brand either – they gave me the strong stuff – hyrdocodone. After two rounds of different antibiotic courses, my condition continued to get worse. Because of the pain I had lost my appetite and dropped 40 pounds.

The specialist asked me to come back in on Monday or Tuesday October 12th so they could run some additional tests. That Thursday they called me back and asked me to sit down. “Sit down…?” They confessed that they would rather tell me in person but that this just couldn’t wait.

I had cancer… it was malignant… and it was serious.

One of the tests they ran checked my HcG count. In a healthy person a normal count would be below 5. My HcG count was 37,000. They told me they wanted to get me in to surgery the very next morning to remove the tumor and do a biopsy.

I had a trip scheduled that weekend for a youth retreat and told the doctor that I wanted to wait until Monday. He reluctantly conceded but said that it couldn’t be a day later so we scheduled the surgery for Monday. I made a few calls to family and friends and spread the word. After I got off the phone I took a minute to digest. At first, I was a little in shock and somewhat confused – at a loss for what to do next. Bewildered, I sat there, and remember one of my roommates coming in. “I just heard from the doctor… I have cancer.”

That weekend I prayed – and the group I traveled with and the pastor at the church where the retreat was being held prayed. I didn’t yell at God or get angry, I just prayed. I was pretty weak physically, exhausted emotionally and in a lot of pain. More than anything I held on to hope. I had no idea what lay ahead, but God had prepared me. He knew what was happening and cared enough to let me know something was coming ahead of time. That gave me hope.

My mom and step-dad were waiting for us when we returned from the trip Sunday night. They had driven straight through from Virginia Beach and arrived just shortly before us. I was surrounded by friends and now my family.

The next morning I went in for surgery…

< Back | Part 2 >



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