About a month ago I began the therapies of healing designed to literally blast cancer from my body. If that sounds like a violent process — it is. It is nothing short of turning our bodies into a war zone between runaway rogue cells (the ones we call cancer), and the technologies of men which take the shape of a medieval torture chamber – with more bells and whistles. Welcome to modern medicine. It is our reality in a world where we have abused these poor bodies of ours with such pollutants and poisons that we are subtly killing ourselves. Cancer today is endemic. In the face of that battle ground, conscientious and dedicated doctors do their best to wage the good fight armed with the high-tech equivalent of deer skins and stone knives. Hence is laid out the simple plan of attack. Kill the cancer – hopefully without killing off the patient. It is a delicate balance. And I, along with millions of others, am stuck in the middle.
Let me remind my friends who are following this drama, that my situation was weird to begin with. The misdiagnosis of my problem from the beginning was a result of normal expectations. “Nobody gets cancer there.” A melanoma of the larynx is extremely rare. I was told that there are only about 90 reported cases of it over the past 30 years. And of those few there have been no definitive studies. Once identified, after almost a year of neglect, it was fully expected that this aggressive cancer would have had a field day in my unsuspecting body. The PET scan and MRI surprised everyone with results that the cancer had not spread beyond my throat. In that I was extremely blessed. My Heavenly Father has been looking out for me. But once identified, the cancer quickly made its intentions known, and within weeks, spread aggressively to the cartilage of my throat. The war was on.
I went into tomotherapy (a very specific and targeted radiation treatment) immediately. It was intensive and highly invasive – and my reaction to it was radical. After a little over 20 treatments I was forced to discontinue treatment. Again, my response was rare. My throat, both inside and out, was seared with second degree burns which gave my skin the appearance of raw hamburger. I couldn’t move my neck, I couldn’t eat without pain, and I found it almost impossible to sleep. Simultaneous chemotherapy was also discontinued. Everything about my situation seemed to be uncharted territory. Everything about my treatment and my reaction to it seemed unusual. My white blood count was extremely low. My platelet count was also at dangerously low levels. My treatment had come to a halt. I was going nowhere and in the greatest of pain. I was as discouraged as I have ever been in my life.
It was at this point that Diane and I asked so many of you to remember us in your prayers – specifically that I might be healed to resume my treatment. I believe in fasting. I believe in prayer. I believe in the blessings of the priesthood and the power of God. That was one week ago. ON that Sunday night, after so many days of pain, frustration and little progress, the comforting peace of the Holy Ghost visited me with the assurance that the effectual prayers and blessings of the faithful would be answered in my behalf.
Last Monday I woke up in the morning to find that the skin in my throat was healed to the degree that I was able to function without pain. Most of the rawness was gone. I could move again. I began radiation two days later, with a countdown of 14 treatments until it is over. My tests at the clinic continued to reveal my unusual nature. I persist in being the case that the doctors cannot figure out – with reactions they have not seen before. Remarkably, my white blood count and my platelet levels suddenly rebounded to optimal levels, without the prescription of invasive drugs usually necessary to make it so. They were so baffled, they resubmitted my blood work to verify the results – and confirmed what they’d already found – and recommended that my chemotherapy be resumed.
The doctors don’t understand how all this is possible. But I do. I am grateful to conscientious healthcare professionals. I am grateful for modern medicine which offers hope in a peril-fraught world. I am grateful for the wonders of the human body, which will do amazing things for us if we will just feed it right, and exercise it, and care for it in the way that God intended. But above all I am grateful for friends, and family, and loved ones, and perfect strangers who will reach out with faith and prayer and the power of eternity to work miracles. I know that God lives. I know that He loves us and is an active participant in our lives. I know that the might and authority of the priesthood are literal. And I know that the power of Jesus Christ and of his atonement are real.
I believe in miracles. And I am grateful to all who have been a participant with me in this one. I continue to ask an investment of your faith and prayers in my adventure. It is far from over. But it is well underway. May we continue to find strength in the things of eternity – and in the love that binds us here in mortality as well.