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.

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  1. Mark King

    Stephen, you continue to be in our prayers. We ask also for blessings of His loving strength to be with your dear family.

  2. Darwin

    It appears that God has called you to serve as a trailblazer/pioneer/frontiersman…which quite consistently involves copious amounts of both pain and peril….heroically making life much easier for those who tread a similar path after you.

    As you explained: “Nobody gets cancer there. A melanoma of the larynx is extremely rare….only about 90 reported cases of it over the past 30 years…and of those few there have been no definitive studies. ”

    So you are also educating the medical community in a necessary way. Again, for the benefit of others, as well as yourself.

    God doesn’t simply assign such tasks unless He has trust in he (or she, as the case may be) who He has assigned.

    He knows what you are capable of.

    And He wants this “rarity”…this melanoma of the larynx…addressed now. Studied. No longer ignored.

    You have God’s backing.

    The love of faithful family and friends.

    And you have my prayers as well.

  3. Noel Brettoner

    Dear Mr Stirling; dad to and of an extraordinary family,
    God Bless you! Shalom.
    I read with interest the above, your journey thus far, involving cancer of the Larynx.
    What a powerful testimony you are, of God’s Grace & Mercy, and His hearing our prayers.
    Praise God for His intervention in all of this journey. He covers it all, walking with you & your dear family.
    I have a brother who also has had an ongoing battle with cancer of the larynx, over some years now.
    Although his voice is weaker and his need to ‘look after it’, he is going really well now. Just needs the occasional checkup.
    PS Loved your book!!! Persona non Grata. Great read.
    Am enjoying another good read, once again a Stirling venture, about pirates and stuff.
    How truly blessed you and your good wife {Prov 31:10-31} are, together with your gifted ‘young~uns’, with such a shared life journey with The Lord God Almighty. PTL
    God Bless you and your loved ones.
    Am continuing to pray for you & family, as & when prompted to.
    Soak in His Presence

  4. Darwin

    Does Lindsey know about Zika virus?

    Not only does it cause birth defects but is a link to Guillian-Barre syndrome.

    Also could be known as a dancing violinist career end-er.

    In 2014, the virus spread eastward across the Pacific Ocean to French Polynesia, then to Easter Island and in 2015 to Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, and South America, where the Zika outbreak has reached pandemic levels. The illness cannot yet be prevented by drugs or vaccines. As of February 2016, there is evidence that Zika fever in pregnant women can cause abnormal brain development in their fetuses by mother-to-child transmission, which may result in miscarriage or microcephaly.

    But in Brazil, it’s not only making people noticeably sick, it’s suspected of causing a giant increase in serious birth defects and perhaps Guillain-Barre syndrome.

    Zika virus shows up in urine, saliva and semen. And it seems to go right to the brain in fetuses, but nowhere else in their bodies.

    So it’s no wonder this once-obscure virus is mystifying even the experts.

    Zika is spreading explosively across Latin America and the Caribbean…Such rapid movement is not unexpected when a new virus — in this case, spread by an extremely efficient mosquito — shows up in a population with almost no immunity.

    But almost everything else about Zika is surprising — especially the seemingly new links with birth defects and a rare condition called Guillain-Barre syndrome.

    Guillain–Barré syndrome (GBS) is a rapid-onset muscle weakness as a result of damage to the peripheral nervous system. Many experience changes in sensation or develop pain, followed by muscle weakness beginning in the feet and hands. The symptoms develop over half a day to two weeks. During the acute phase, the disorder can be life-threatening with about a quarter developing weakness of the breathing muscles and requiring mechanical ventilation. Some are affected by changes in the function of the autonomic nervous system, which can lead to dangerous abnormalities in heart rate and blood pressure.

    And again..”The illness [mosquito- transmitted Zika] cannot yet be prevented by drugs or vaccines.”

    You may want to discuss rethinking Lindsey’s South American tour.


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