It’s that time again…

Next month I will undergo my 8th CT scan and my next battery of lab work and other tests. I started down this road almost 5 years ago. On November 17th 2006, I found out I had a tumor the size of a cantaloupe in my colon. Well, it didn’t stay contained in the colon. It had attached itself to the abdominal wall, small intestine, another section of the large intestine, and the bladder. December 4th, 2006 I had surgery to attempt to remove this beast. The surgeon was successful in removing the tumor along with a bladder resection and colon and small intestine resections. On December 7th, 2006 the pathology report showed that there was no cancer to be found in my system. Nothing in the margins, and 22 out of 22 lymph nodes completely clean. Since then, I had six months of intensive chemo. My oncologist termed that preventative. I have been since visiting my oncologist every three months. I was scheduled to do that for 5 years. I have been informed if my results come back like all of my previous results that I will be declared “cancer free” by the oncologist and released as a patient.

My last CT result still showed a small spot on my liver . However, I have been informed by my oncologist that it is nothing and I should not be concerned. While yes, they found a spot, ALL other labs, blood work and markers are “perfect”. AMAZING! This journey has never been about me. It has always been about God and His glory.

So what’s the next step? We keep moving. We keep living a healthy lifestyle for both my physical being as well as my spiritual.

Stay tuned…because I know God is not finished, with me or this journey. Exciting things are coming out of this journey. More on that later.

For now thanks for the prayers and support. See you next time.

Cancer’s Unexpected Blessings

Commentator and broadcaster Tony Snow announced that he had colon cancer in 2005. Following surgery and chemo-therapy, Snow joined the Bush administration in April 2006 as press secretary. Unfortunately, on March 23, 2007 Snow, 51, a husband and father of three, announced that the cancer had recurred, with tumors found in his abdomen — leading to surgery in April, followed by more chemotherapy. Snow went back to work in the White House Briefing Room on May 30, 2007. CT asked Snow what spiritual lessons he has been learning through the ordeal one year prior to his death July 12, 2008.

Being a colon cancer survivor and a Christ follower, I wanted to share these thoughts. Even though I did not write them, I have lived them these past 2 years. I was diagnosed with Stage IV Colon Cancer on November 15th 2006. Surgery was performed on December 4th 2006 to remove a cantaloupe sized tumor that was metastasized. December 7, 2006 the pathology report showed no cancer in my system. I have lived with this unexpected blessing for the past 2 years.

Blessings arrive in unexpected packages — in my case, cancer.

Those of us with potentially fatal diseases — and there are millions in America today — find ourselves in the odd position of coping with our mortality while trying to fathom God’s will. Although it would be the height of presumption to declare with confidence What It All Means, Scripture provides powerful hints and consolations.

The first is that we shouldn’t spend too much time trying to answer the why questions: Why me? Why must people suffer? Why can’t someone else get sick? We can’t answer such things, and the questions themselves often are designed more to express our anguish than to solicit an answer.

I don’t know why I have cancer, and I don’t much care. It is what it is — a plain and indisputable fact. Yet even while staring into a mirror darkly, great and stunning truths begin to take shape. Our maladies define a central feature of our existence: We are fallen. We are imperfect. Our bodies give out.

But despite this — because of it — God offers the possibility of salvation and grace. We don’t know how the narrative of our lives will end, but we get to choose how to use the interval between now and the moment we meet our Creator face-to-face.

Second, we need to get past the anxiety. The mere thought of dying can send adrenaline flooding through your system. A dizzy, unfocused panic seizes you. Your heart thumps; your head swims. You think of nothingness and swoon. You fear partings; you worry about the impact on family and friends. You fidget and get nowhere.

To regain footing, remember that we were born not into death, but into life — and that the journey continues after we have finished our days on this earth. We accept this on faith, but that faith is nourished by a conviction that stirs even within many nonbelieving hearts — an intuition that the gift of life, once given, cannot be taken away. Those who have been stricken enjoy the special privilege of being able to fight with their might, main, and faith to live — fully, richly, exuberantly — no matter how their days may be numbered.

Third, we can open our eyes and hearts. God relishes surprise. We want lives of simple, predictable ease — smooth, even trails as far as the eye can see — but God likes to go off-road. He provokes us with twists and turns. He places us in predicaments that seem to defy our endurance and comprehension — and yet don’t. By his love and grace, we persevere. The challenges that make our hearts leap and stomachs churn invariably strengthen our faith and grant measures of wisdom and joy we would not experience otherwise.

‘You Have Been Called’

Picture yourself in a hospital bed. The fog of anesthesia has begun to wear away. A doctor stands at your feet; a loved one holds your hand at the side. “It’s cancer,” the healer announces.

The natural reaction is to turn to God and ask him to serve as a cosmic Santa. “Dear God, make it all go away. Make everything simpler.” But another voice whispers: “You have been called.” Your quandary has drawn you closer to God, closer to those you love, closer to the issues that matter — and has dragged into insignificance the banal concerns that occupy our “normal time.”

There’s another kind of response, although usually short-lived — an inexplicable shudder of excitement, as if a clarifying moment of calamity has swept away everything trivial and tinny, and placed before us the challenge of important questions.

The moment you enter the Valley of the Shadow of Death, things change. You discover that Christianity is not something doughy, passive, pious, and soft. Faith may be the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. But it also draws you into a world shorn of fearful caution. The life of belief teems with thrills, boldness, danger, shocks, reversals, triumphs, and epiphanies. Think of Paul, traipsing though the known world and contemplating trips to what must have seemed the antipodes (Spain), shaking the dust from his sandals, worrying not about the morrow, but only about the moment.

There’s nothing wilder than a life of humble virtue — for it is through selflessness and service that God wrings from our bodies and spirits the most we ever could give, the most we ever could offer, and the most we ever could do.

Finally, we can let love change everything. When Jesus was faced with the prospect of crucifixion, he grieved not for himself, but for us. He cried for Jerusalem before entering the holy city. From the Cross, he took on the cumulative burden of human sin and weakness, and begged for forgiveness on our behalf.

We get repeated chances to learn that life is not about us — that we acquire purpose and satisfaction by sharing in God’s love for others. Sickness gets us partway there. It reminds us of our limitations and dependence. But it also gives us a chance to serve the healthy. A minister friend of mine observes that people suffering grave afflictions often acquire the faith of two people, while loved ones accept the burden of two people’s worries and fears.

Learning How to Live

Most of us have watched friends as they drifted toward God’s arms not with resignation, but with peace and hope. In so doing, they have taught us not how to die, but how to live. They have emulated Christ by transmitting the power and authority of love.

I sat by my best friend’s bedside a few years ago as a wasting cancer took him away. He kept at his table a worn Bible and a 1928 edition of the Book of Common Prayer. A shattering grief disabled his family, many of his old friends, and at least one priest. Here was a humble and very good guy, someone who apologized when he winced with pain because he thought it made his guest uncomfortable. He retained his equanimity and good humor literally until his last conscious moment. “I’m going to try to beat [this cancer],” he told me several months before he died. “But if I don’t, I’ll see you on the other side.”

His gift was to remind everyone around him that even though God doesn’t promise us tomorrow, he does promise us eternity — filled with life and love we cannot comprehend — and that one can in the throes of sickness point the rest of us toward timeless truths that will help us weather future storms.

Through such trials, God bids us to choose: Do we believe, or do we not? Will we be bold enough to love, daring enough to serve, humble enough to submit, and strong enough to acknowledge our limitations? Can we surrender our concern in things that don’t matter so that we might devote our remaining days to things that do?

When our faith flags, he throws reminders in our way. Think of the prayer warriors in our midst. They change things, and those of us who have been on the receiving end of their petitions and intercessions know it. It is hard to describe, but there are times when suddenly the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, and you feel a surge of the Spirit. Somehow you just know: Others have chosen, when talking to the Author of all creation, to lift us up — to speak of us!

This is love of a very special order. But so is the ability to sit back and appreciate the wonder of every created thing. The mere thought of death somehow makes every blessing vivid, every happiness more luminous and intense. We may not know how our contest with sickness will end, but we have felt the ineluctable touch of God.

What is man that Thou art mindful of him? We don’t know much, but we know this: No matter where we are, no matter what we do, no matter how bleak or frightening our prospects, each and every one of us, each and every day, lies in the same safe and impregnable place — in the hollow of God’s hand.

Copyright © 2007 Christianity Today.
 

 — Scott

We can only LIVESTRONG™ if we’re GODSTRONG™.

Soldiers Waging A Battle Against Cancer

This weekend will be 2 years since my diagnosis with Stage IV Colon Cancer. I have been following this blog for the past 2 years. Always a source of reflection for me.

From Laurie Singer My Cancer ( http://www.npr.org/blogs/mycancer/2008/11/soldiers_waging_a_battle_again.html )

It’s Veterans Day. One of the rare holidays in this country we actually observe on the day it was intended. That’s because, even though World War I ended on June 28, 1919 with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, fighting had stopped seven months earlier. On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.

Look around — there’s our flag, dancing on a breeze at a veteran’s headstone, or on porches across America, in a soft salute to those brave men and women.

This blog brings together different veterans. Still fighters. Soldiers of sorts. Waging a battle in a very personal war against cancer.

This may not be your day on the calendar, but I salute you, too. Today and every other day, because I know your battlefield, and how destructive your enemy can be.

All veterans of wars have something in common.

 — Scott

We can only LIVESTRONG™ if we’re GODSTRONG™.

 P Please consider the environment before printing this e-mail

Posted by email from sawagner30’s posterous

President’s Cancer Panel Recommends National Priority for Cancer

In a new report Maximizing Our Nation’s Investment in Cancer: Three Crucial Actions for America’s Health the President’s Cancer Panel makes three recommendations to the President that they feel are critical to the battle against cancer in the United States.

Make reducing the cancer burden a national priority.

Ensure that all Americans have timely access to needed health care and disease prevention measures.

End the scourge of tobacco in the United States.

The President’s Cancer Panel was created with the passage of the National Cancer Act in 1971. Its three members have a responsibility to report on barriers to full implementation of the National Cancer Program and make recommendations to overcome them. Panel members responsible for the 2007–2008 Report were:

LaSalle D. Leffall, Jr., M.D., F.A.C.S., of the Howard University College of Medicine

Margaret L. Kripke, Ph.D., of The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center,

Lance Armstrong, cancer survivor and founder of the Lance Armstrong Foundation

In February 2008, President Bush appointed Joe Torre, a cancer survivor and Los Angeles Dodgers manager to replace Lance Armstrong.

Four in ten people in the United States will develop cancer at some point in their lives. In 2008 more than 1.4 million Americans will be diagnosed with cancer and 565,000 will die.

However, despite the growing US burden of cancer, in developing the 2007–2008 recommendations for the President, the Panel pointed out disturbing trends:

A declining cancer research budget

Avoidable inefficiencies and poor collaboration among governmental, voluntary, industry, and academic organizations working on cancer research

Questions about the appropriate focus and emphasis on cancer research in light of current cancer trends

An aging and increasingly sedentary population

A more and more fragmented and unsustainable health care system

An increasing number of uninsured, underinsured, and underserved Americans due to a steady erosion of public and private health care coverage

Continued tobacco use, reduced cancer control funding, and increased tobacco marketing targeting young people, women, and other vulnerable groups

Complacency and a lack of understanding and sense of urgency among policymakers, the research and health communities, and the public about the growing burden of cancer

In their Executive Summary, the Panel challenged Americans and their leaders to make cancer an urgent priority saying,

It no longer is acceptable to say that because cancer is complex, disparities in care are entrenched, and the tobacco companies are powerful, we cannot solve the problem of cancer in America. We can. But to do so, cancer must become a national priority — one that is guided by strong leadership; fueled by adequate funding and productive collaboration and compromise among governments, industry, and institutions; and embraced by individuals who understand and accept their personal role in preventing cancer and in demanding meaningful progress.

I am one of that forty percent of Americans whose life has been touched by cancer — too many times in my own life and that of my family and friends.

I welcome the strong words of the President’s Cancer Panel, and I hope that despite the frightening financial crisis we find ourselves in, the pressure of two costly wars, and a change in Washington leadership, we will listen and learn!

By letting government funding for cancer research stagnate, we are literally eating our seed corn. There is exciting research going on, but it cannot continue without the brains and vision of young researchers. However, as the Panel points out, they are being forced out of cancer research by dwindling funding and lack of opportunities for their careers to grow.

We know how to prevent many colorectal cancers and find others early . . . but millions of Americans cannot access the simplest screening tests because they have no insurance.

Cancer is a war that we can win. I believe that with my whole heart, and I spend many hours each day working on the struggle to win it. I urge you all — citizens, researchers, legislators, President — to join Dr. Leffall, Dr. Kripke, Lance Armstrong, Joe Torre and me in the fight.

 — Scott

We can only LIVESTRONG™ if we’re GODSTRONG™.

 P Please consider the environment before printing this e-mail

Posted by email from sawagner30’s posterous

Anniversary of Sorts

Add a Comment

A year ago today my doctor called to inform me that the mass he found was Stage IV Colon Cancer. Wow the time has passed so quickly. I’m doing well. I’m healthy and I’m very blessed. I just wanted to say thank you to for your prayers and your support during this last year. You have been such a blessing to me and my family. This journey has been such a blessing to us. We’ve been able to encounter so many individuals that got to hear of God’s miraculous love, grace & mercy.

I am very fortunate this evening to be able to spend time with my family. Josh & Dusty, Austin & Cyndi and Lori & I will be attending a concert. Steven Curtis Chapman is in Asheville tonight. It’s very appropriate that it is the Miracle of the Moment tour. We are definitely celebrating the moments that we have. The kids are looking forward to seeing a concert with me especially with an artist that I had the privilege of working with during my time at EMI. They just wish I could still get backstage passes. It should be a great time together.

I hope this finds you all well. I pray that you all have a blessed Thanksgiving. Give thanks for He is good.

— Scott

We can only LIVESTRONG™ if we’re GODSTRONG™.

Here’s the lyrics to the song

Steven Curtis Chapman — Miracle Of The Moment

From the album This Moment

It’s time for letting go

All of our if only’s

’Cause we don’t have a time machine

And even if we did

Would we really want to use it?

Would we really want to go change everything?

’Cause we are who and where and what we are for now

And this is the only moment we can do anything about

Chorus:

So breathe it in and breathe it out

Listen to your heartbeat

There’s a wonder in the here and now

It’s right there in front of you

And I don’t want you to miss

The miracle of the moment

There’s only one who knows

What’s really out there waiting

In all the moments yet to be

And all we need to know

Is He’s out there waiting

To Him the future’s history

And He has given us a treasure called right now

And this is the only moment we can do anything about

And if it brings you tears

Then taste them as they fall

And let them soften your heart

And if it brings you laughter

Then throw your head back

And let it go, let it go

You gotta let it go

Listen to your heartbeat

Good News

I went to see my oncologist yesterday. Everything looked great. My levels are doing well. It was actually good to see him smile as he was giving me the results. I go back the week before Christmas for another visit.

We also helped Josh move into his new apartment yesterday. He is very excited abut this new chapter is his life. Yes, it’s only 4 weeks until his wedding. I think the reality is setting for all of us.

I cannot thank you enough for all your support and prayers.

If you have the opportunity don’t forget about my friend Cliff Phillips. He’s training hard to the NYC marathon. We’re still raising support for the Lance Armstrong Foundation. If you can donate it would be greatly appreciated.

You can do that here. https://www.kintera.org/faf/donorReg/donorPledge.asp?ievent=158934&supid=162486079

If you have already done so…THANKS. If you can’t donate that’s OK as well. Pass this link along to someone who might be able to.

Scott

We can only LIVESTRONG™ if we’re GODSTRONG™

It’s been a while…

Just wanted to give everyone a quick update on where we are in our journey. June 26th was my last chemo treatment. Everything went well with the last couple of treatments. Now we are on to the finishing touches. I’ve had in the last 2 weeks a colonoscopy and a CT scan. Everything looks good according to the doctors. August 6 I will have surgery to reverse my ileostomy. I’ll be spending a couple of days in the hospital. Then in September I begin my 3 month appointments with my oncologist for maintenance. My blood work has been good and my markers look great (according to my oncologist). Now we’re on to the next chapter in our journey.

I just want to thank all of you for your continued prayers and encouragement. Please don’t stop. This has been an incredible journey. I’m looking forward to what God has in store for us next.

If you have the opportunity don’t forget about my friend Cliff Phillips. He’s training hard to the NYC marathon. We’re still raising support for the Lance Armstrong Foundation. If you can donate it would be greatly appreciated. You can do that here. https://www.kintera.org/faf/donorReg/donorPledge.asp?ievent=158934&supid=162486079 If you have already done so…THANKS. If you can’t donate that OK as well. Pass it along to someone who might be able to.

Thanks again

— Scott

We can only LIVESTRONG™ if we’re GODSTRONG™.

Add a Comment