I am not Hope

Former NBA basketball player Charles Barkley once made a commercial in which he proclaimed that he was not a role model.


I can appreciate that. Especially, where cancer is concerned. If you’re a regular reader of my blog or just know me, you know my wife died of cancer almost nine years ago.

Now when I hear of someone, whether it is a friend or even a friend or relative of a friend, I always feel like I should reach out. That I should provide some words of comfort and hope.

But I’m always hesitant to do that. People with cancer don’t need to hear from me. They need to hear from people who have survived cancer. They need stories of inspiration. Stories of hope and overcoming such a terrible disease.

But I’m not hope. I’m reality. I represent that other thing that can happen. I’m sure when those with cancer see me, they can’t help but think about that. To think about what could happen to them.

So I hesitate when common courtesy would suggest that I provide a comforting word. I withdraw when the situation really calls for reaching out.

But then I think, maybe I’m not supposed to be an inspiration to those who have cancer. Instead, maybe I’m supposed to provide hope to those who have lost a loved one to cancer.

And if others can draw even a small amount of comfort from seeing my life, from seeing me go on, then that provides a small amount of hope to me.

  5 comments for “I am not Hope

  1. June 19, 2013 at 4:33 pm

    Hello Mark,
    I had no idea that your wife passed away from cancer; I’m so sorry to hear that but glad that you and your son are doing so well. I understand your hesitancy to even try to bring comfort to those who’re battling this deadly disease; it’s very difficult to know what to say in these situations. However, there is hope. There is always hope.

    In the same way that you can identify with the survivors who’ve lost loved ones, I can identify with those who’re battling this disease. In early 2011 I was diagnosed with a rare form of lymphoma that my oncologist of 30 yrs or more had never seen. She consulted with MD Anderson and finally found someone who had dealt with it. However, before they could come up with a treatment plan something had happened. Something drastic had happened.

    I am a Christian. I believe that in life or death, through Christ, I win! In the months preceeding my unforeseen diagnosis, the Holy Spirit began leading me through the healing ministry of Jesus and reminded me, once again, how spiritual salvation is also connected to physical healing at the cross. And here’s the amazing thing that happened: when the doctor walked in and gave me the diagnosis it was as if he told me I had a wart. No fear. No terrible, sweeping emotion. Just peace. God had already given me the answer for my problem before I even knew I had a problem. It’s a blessing to walk with Him daily.

    They didn’t know what to do with me yet so they gave me one dose of an IV treatment called Rituxan. It’s generally used as a maintenance drug for those who’ve already been through harsh chemotherapy. It was something my oncologist was comfortable with and knew it wouldn’t be harmful.

    Here’s the kicker. Six weeks later I went for a PET scan to determine the aggressiveness and amount of cancer in my lungs and it had shrunk 87 1/2%!!! The doctor was in shock! I asked her if she had ever seen that happen before in all her years of experience. She said, “No, I’ve never seen it.” Over the next few months, what was remaining of the cancer shrank away– completely. And now I’ve been clear ever since.

    Some people might say, “Boy, that sure was a miracle drug for you.” And my reply is, “It wasn’t a ‘miracle drug’ that killed the cancer, it was the ‘Miracle Man’. His name is Jesus!”

    I’m not trying to turn your blog into a ‘religious forum’ here. I’m merely offering ‘hope’ to those who’re in the dark days of the battle. I’ve never cared about ‘religion’, but I have fallen in love with my Savior! And he’s in love with me; and his love is extending to you. Healing love.

    Some might say, “But I prayed, and the healing didn’t come.” I have nothing but deep compassion for you. As I was on the cancer floor of Baptist Hospital in Little Rock, I remember the cries from the room next door. The only thing stopping me from getting up and going over there to attempt to offer them comfort, in whatever form I possibly could, was the IV pole connected to me that couldn’t be moved at the time. My heart breaks for those who’ve lost loved ones to cancer. And there are times when no words will do; we can only let them know that we love them and are there for them if they need us.

    I don’t have all the answers. No one but God does. I know we’re living in a fallen world where bad things happen to everyone– everyone. Jesus said, “The thief (not God) comes to steal, kill, and destroy; but I have come that you might have life, abundantly.”

    So where should we turn when the answers we desired didn’t come? To the only One who can give us the strength to go forward– his name is Jesus. He said once that he came “to heal the broken-hearted.” The loss of loved ones leaves us broken-hearted.

    Two weeks ago I did a funeral (I’m a pastor in case some of you couldn’t tell) for a couple who’s child was born 8 months old stillborn. That was tough. I didn’t have all the answers for them either; but I did have ONE answer. The same one I gave earler– Jesus. You should see that couple right now. They’re doing awesome! Everyone is amazed at how they’re handling the heartace. They have a secret weapon– the Healer. In life or in death, those of us who’ve placed our hope in the Savior have the hope of seeing our loved ones again. And we will!

    Mark, again, stories like yours break my heart. I deal with similar situations from time to time in the ministry. Not all stories end happily ever after; at least not here on earth. But, like the broken record I am, Jesus has broken in to earth to give us eternal hope and eternal life!

    I haven’t seen you since we were kids. I’d love to run into you and reminisce sometimes; it would be fun. I’d love to meet your son; he’s a good-looking boy (must have taken after his beautiful mom 🙂 Sorry to hijack your blog. I am a long-winded preacher, you know. 🙂

  2. June 19, 2013 at 6:21 pm

    Dennis, that’s quite a story. Thank you for sharing it.
    Yes, my son DEFINITELY got his looks from his mom!
    I’d love to see you again, too. We should get together some time.

  3. June 19, 2013 at 8:08 pm

    While your story may not be a comfort to those that havr cancer, it can certainly be an inspiration to the family members who may be afraid of being left without a loved one. My dad died of cancer when I was nine months old. I think stories of you and your son, as well as my mom, can be an encouragement to family during the most difficult times.

    • June 20, 2013 at 9:10 am

      Thanks, Karen. I think you’re right. It’s certainly not easy, but it’s good to have people in these similar situations to look to.

  4. lynne Nieslen
    June 19, 2013 at 9:11 pm

    I remember so vividly the last months of her fight. Sam was just a baby and Hannah….she was at such a vulnerable age. I couldn’t get you guys off my mind. But as time passed by I have failed to give you encouragement. I feel the same way….How can I give encouragement to you after what you have been through? I think you are doing a GREAT JOB!!! Actually….YOU ROCK! Just putting in my two cents! Your family is still in my prayers though….and it was great to have my boys play baseball with Sam! It was really fun!

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