Worship through Thanks

From the fullness of his grace we have all received
one blessing after another.
John 1:16
As we approach the Christmas season, I am again reminded of how thankful I am for the good health of my husband, Don. He seldom complains about anything, much less the six times he has had Cancer beginning the Christmas season of 1996. 
To start at the beginning, that fall Jennifer was a senior in High School, and we had let a young man from Donnie’s class stay with us rent-free as long as he did some chores around the house like mowing the lawn. When Don came home the last Friday before Christmas week, he was upset to find that the young man had done NOTHING asked of him that week, and he had regularly been doing less and less for several weeks. First, Don told the young man how disappointed he was, then told him to leave. Saturday morning Don got up early and worked in the yard until late in the afternoon. At bedtime, he confided in me that there was blood in his urine after all the exercise. We decided to call our doctor first thing Monday.
We saw Dr. Weaver early Monday. He referred Don to Dr. Perry, a urologist. Because it was the last few days before Christmas, Don could not get in to see Dr. Perry until after Christmas. Believe me, that was one very quiet, prayerful Christmas!
Dr. Perry scheduled Don for bladder surgery January 5, 1997. We were blessed to learn that all the cancer was removed during that operation. Don continued to have regular checks with Dr. Perry, and then Dr. Roberts, all through these years since.
I got in contact with the young man and thanked him for his negligence in the case of our yard because it saved Don’s life. He had found another place to live, and has since married and has a successful life.
But my thankfulness doesn’t stop there!
In 2005 Don and I took a much-needed vacation in August. We went to New Orleans the last full week before Hurricane Katrina struck there.  We had such a nice time sightseeing and eating a lot of delicious food!  During the drive home Don showed me a large lump on his neck. I told him it was on a lymph node, and we would need to see a doctor. Dr. Weaver saw Don the following Monday, and set up an appointment with Dr. Arielle Lee, an oncologist in Tyler.
Dr. Lee has been such an angel to Don and me! God has blessed us with a tough, understanding doctor in Dr. Lee! You might have seen her if you have needed to see an oncologist. She has taken care of several people in our Sunday School class, alone! She always calls Don “quite a character” and tells people how strong he is. One visit Dr. Lee told us we have one very unique class!!
Long story short, Don had stage 4 Non-Hodgkins Follicular Lymphoma. Dr. Lee said it was over all of his organs, his lymph nodes, and even up and down his spine!  He had several months of chemotherapy at Dr. Lee’s clinic followed by one injection of a VERY EXPENSIVE ($50,000) radiation drug to finish off all the cancer. By the following spring Don was once-again declared Cancer-free.
During a scheduled PET Scan to make certain Don’s Lymphoma had not returned in 2008, a spot of Cancer showed up in Don’s Pancreas the first time after my surgery. We took it as another blessing because Dr. Lee told us we caught it very early. Only three weeks later Dr. Blake Harrison operated on Don to remove the diseased part of his pancreas.  By that short time, nearly all of Don’s pancreas and his spleen had to be removed.  Two long weeks in the hospital later, Don came home to recover. He didn’t even need chemotherapy or radiation!!
My story goes on………
In early fall 2010 Don went in for his scheduled PET Scan, and Dr. Lee called to tell him his Lymphoma had returned.  MORE MONTHS OF CHEMO!!! He only needed the chemo that time.
As if that wasn’t enough, in August 2011 Don went for his annual check-up on his bladder. He and I were joking as we waited for Dr. Roberts to return to the room after Don dressed. Dr. Roberts told us as soon as he came back in that he had found Cancer in his bladder again!!  It felt like all the air in that room was GONE!!!!  I couldn’t even breathe for a few moments!!! After saying a silent prayer, I looked at Don and let him know I would stay with him at each chemo session again.  I went to each one!
As you can see, Don is an exceptionally strong man. With God’s help he has continued to travel and work each day, no matter if it was just making phone calls, these past 15 years.  He has counseled more people who had Cancer than I can count. And he has remained strong. The members of our Sunday School class call him our unofficial poster child!  He has helped my faith to remain strong, and my prayer life to blossom through his love of God.
Oh! You say that is only FIVE times Don has had Cancer.  Well, this spring Don and I were getting ready to go to Tyler one Saturday, and I noticed something bleeding on his left temple. When I asked him about it, he said it was a mole that kept bleeding every once in a while. The next week I got him an appointment through Dr. Weaver with Dr. Lambert in Tyler. You’re right. It was Cancer………again!  He had it biopsied and removed shortly after that at Dr. Lambert’s facility in Tyler.  Luckily, it was just a Basal-Cell Carcinoma.  There are no more spots at this time.  We jokingly call this last episode with Cancer a “speed bump”!
When you feel like life just isn’t fair, and you are on the bottom looking up, STOP!!  Give God thanks for all the blessings you have. You really do have MANYBLESSINGS! He sent his Son to save us. We are blessed beyond belief! Enjoy all that Christmas has to offer us. I do. I know that our Savior is taking care of us with the Father. Christmas proves that.

Jackie Gruber

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