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The Time I (Almost) Had Cancer


The Time I (Almost) Had Cancer

Spencer Traver

The Testimony God Has Given Me

Recently, God revealed himself to me in his divine power, which ultimately led to a dramatic change in perspective on life for me.

It was only two months ago when I first felt the weakness of my frail body. In fact, I distinctly remember hearing the pop of my left knee while running down a basketball court that I was officiating a game for. Having confidence in my own ability to strengthen my body, I allowed myself to continue running on a bad knee for another week.

With the goal of officiating on championship night for our intramural league in sight, I pressed on. However, my fatigue only grew greater and the pain sharper. It was just a short week later that I could hardly walk. After a series of physical exams and an MRI, I learned that there was no structural damage to any ligaments, but inflammation of loose tissue that would render me unable to finish the season.

While healing my knee, I decided to take a week off of working out to allow my body to rest. Then, I noticed an unexpected change. At a significant rate, my weight began to drop off. I figured it had much to do with not being able to exercise. With this in mind, I ramped up my daily calorie intake from 3,500 calories to 4,000 calories per day. Yet, even at this level of managed nutrition, I was losing roughly 1 pound per day.

Within 3 weeks, I had lost over 15 pounds, while eating on a 4,000 calorie/day diet. Something was terribly wrong.

I failed to grasp how I could fall so quickly from the best shape of my life to as weak and weightless as I was during my freshman year of high school. I cannot explain how humbling this has been for a guy born into a family of well-trained athletes.

This weight loss, pain, and muscle fatigue humbled me enough to go see an internal medicine specialist. Going in, I assumed that I had contracted a bad strain of the flu or developed a digestive system issue. However, the doctor shut these propositions down. After completing a physical exam, he found lumps behind my ear, in my neck, under my arm, in my abdominal, and in my groin. With a list of six or seven other problematic symptoms, he immediately ordered a series of laboratory tests along with imaging scans to be done.

It was then that he told me his prognosis...he firmly believed that I had cancer.

How do you handle that kind of news? One moment, I was talking about feeling fatigued and losing weight, but just minutes later, I was already hooked up to an array of colored cables and wires by a team of nurses.

For 7 days, I lived under the impression that I was a cancer patient. The doctors feared that my body had developed lymphatic or pancreatic cancer. The odds began to fall against me quickly. Yet, I began to experience a tremendous amount of peace. I remember walking out of the medical center, wondering. Selfishly, I wanted answers. Seriously, how could my mind not wonder my own fate? Sadly, my wondering turned into my wandering...

"Why me?" I asked, "I'm only 18 years old, God, why me?"

"What am I supposed to do?" I questioned, "I know nothing about this, God; so, how am I supposed to handle cancer?"

This became a season, in which, I saw the choice ahead of me to act on faith.

I turned to my family and friends, asking them for their prayers. I never once prayed for a certain result, positive or negative. My prayers focused specifically on being able to glorify God through whatever news came my way. Humbly I declare, this occurred due to the gracious amount of peace God gave me. I asked, and he supplied.

It was Friday, April 25, 2014. My time to return to the doctor had come, and I entered with zero expectation or clue as to what I would be told. I had heard nothing about my blood tests and x-rays, so there was no knowledge of the yet to come when I appeared.

Miraculously, he was wrong. He told me how he had prepared to perform a biopsy that very day, but when the x-rays came in early that morning, he was stunned. Now, there was little to no inflammation in my internal organs. My blood pressure rose from 102/70 to 115/80. My weight jumped two pounds. My pulse was in normal range. My oxygen levels were normal again. Even the lumps found in each of the areas they originally were discovered had disappeared practically. We were floored.

In just one week, I easily saw the odds of being diagnosed with cancer; yet, the unseen, which has since been revealed to me, proves that God was indeed restoring my health.

So, you may wonder, why do I share this story with you, my dear readers? I testify to God's faithfulness, power, and love at work so that you may be encouraged to believe. Furthermore, I want to share my thoughts on God's goodness in faithfulness demonstrated through his constant, unchanging love and mercy...

Why I Believe That God is Eternally Good and Faithful

You may say that I can trust in God's faithfulness solely because he restored my health, leaving me without lymphoma or pancreatic cancer. However, I will attest that I saw God's faithfulness towards me before the results were revealed to me.

The chronic issue with my faith that led my mind to wander in worry instead of wonder in amazement derives from my lack of faith in God himself. It is pretty easy for us to believe that God can do great things, even miracles. Even non-believers can see that there is a God who rules the world. Yet, the divine nature of the power God reigns in is what separates the faith of the believer from the non-believer. No longer am I convinced of someone's faith upon telling me that they believe in God, even just one God. Yes, this is an indicator of the Christian faith, but it is not the entirety of what the Christian life looks like.

The Christian life involves believing in the power of God by the cross and the resurrection itself. Faith, then, is not a matter of knowing the evidence put before us and, then, putting God on trial. Rather, God intended faith to result in belief regardless of what is seen or unseen. Those who lived pre-Christ saw God the Father at work. Those who lived in Jesus' time on earth saw God the Son at work. Now, we live by the Spirit of God, who is at work today. That is the message of the Christian life.

Recently, God revealed to me that having faith in Jesus Christ alone is not easy, but it is simple. Upon studying the Gospel of Matthew, I saw a glimpse of how quickly I lose faith in the God of everything simply by observing three verses.

Matthew 16:21-23, "From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” But he turned and said to Peter, Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man."

In the passage prior to this one, Simon Bar-Jonah confesses Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the Living God. In turn, Jesus gives Simon the new name of Peter, calling him the rock on which he will build his church upon. Following this dramatic event, Jesus then tells the disciples that he is the Christ, and that he is on earth to do the will of God, which was to die on a cross, only to be resurrected from the grave three days later. However, Peter immediately speaks up and rebukes Jesus, saying that none of this will happen to him.

By trying to protect the body of Christ, Peter rebuked Jesus. Isn't that ironic???

This lesson made me wonder how many times I have claimed Jesus as Lord and King, yet continue to live my life as if I am the one in control. The crux of it all is that if I sat on the throne in place of God, this life would be meaningless. If all that existed were this world, there would be no pleasure in being here. If this were the case, from the point of birth we not be living, but only dying. However, Jesus offered the gift of life in this world (and the world to come) by becoming the sacrifice for our sins. This is why we can trust not only in what God says and does, but in who he is. It is not the throne that saves us, but the One who upholds his Word on the throne and deems his position to be one of approachable, obtainable grace that saves us.

Hebrews 4:16, "Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need."

This brings me to my next point: God is who he says he is.

God's gifts would be rendered senseless if he were not faithful to who he says he is. His two greatest gifts are his Son, who reigns with God in the Trinity, and his Word (the Bible), which is made available to us today. It is in his Word and by the mouth and influence of his Son that we boldly receive the words, "I Am." The Gospel of John records Jesus declaring his "I Am" statements seven times:

John 6:35, I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall not hunger.” 

John 8:12, “I am the light of the world; he who fallows Me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life.”

John 10:9, “I am the gate; if anyone enters through Me, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”

John 10:11, “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for His sheep.”

John 11:25, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies.”

John 14:6,I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.”

John 15:1,I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.”

John 8:58, "Very truly I tell you," Jesus answered, "before Abraham was born, I am!"

So, who is God? God is the bread of life. God is the light of the world. God is the gate of justice. God is the good shepherd. God is the resurrection and life. God is the way, truth, and the life. God is the true vine and vinedresser. Finally, God existed before time itself. His very nature speaks his divinity, and you can take him at his word, for he has said, "I Am."

Even the Old Testament prophesies God's divine faithfulness in the book of Exodus:

Exodus 3:13-14, "Then Moses said to God, "Behold, I am going to the sons of Israel, and I will say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you.' Now they may say to me, 'What is His name?' What shall I say to them?" God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM"; and He said, "Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you.'"

Knowing God vs. Knowing God's Name

There is a difference between simply knowing God and knowing the name of God. To know God means to recognize his existence, while knowing God's name goes much deeper. For those who know the name of God, there is trust in the character and will of God himself.

Even in our greatest endeavors, our most tragic travesty in this life would be to miss the name of God by solely sticking to knowing God. One can know God without truly knowing him by his name. Yet, if you know the name of God and what the title "I Am" beholds, you will know more than just the remnants of God, which are the works and miracles he leaves visible for us to see.

Psalm 9:10, "And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you."

In this season of weakness, I have found strength. Though I cannot fully comprehend or understand who God is and what he has done in my life, I can trust and believe in faith that he is who he says he is, and he says he is good. The name of God signifies more than just the presence of a Creator, but the powerful love of an Almighty God who intercedes upon our behalf in this world, and prepares our hearts for the world yet to come that he is preparing.

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Because of who God is, we can give thanks in all circumstances. He made a way for us to follow his steps into the light of eternity, where death and sorrow and sin and shame and sickness are no more. Since God is love, we can rejoice even in the midst of the trials we face, like the possibility of cancer. It is because of his loving essence that I am able to write to you today.

My dear readers, I come before you humbled by the cross of Jesus. It was on Good Friday this year that I was told I most likely had cancer. Yet, on Easter Sunday, I celebrated. For my King is not the King of the dead, but the Lord of the Living.

Here is my challenge to you: live every day like it is Easter Sunday. glad... and proclaim Jesus' victory over sin and death.

Imagine a world, in which, we lived as if we were fighting a fixed fight because that is the world we live in. Jesus already conquered death and sin. Though we are in a struggle, we are not alone. Soon, all the evil, sin, and injustice in the world will be locked in the gates of hell forever, only to burn away. Nevertheless, it is the kingdom of heaven that will stand forever.

I may not know you or what you are going through, but I do know your Creator, and I want you to know that he loves you. He desires for you to return to him and to remain with him. It is in the Gospel of Matthew, which we see this love demonstrated for us, the worrisome lost sheep:

Matthew 18:10-14, See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven. What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish."

In this parable told by Jesus, God left the 99 sheep for the one, and the one is you. The one is me. The one is us, whom Jesus died to save. God pursues us because of his loving nature, which causes him to chase after our hearts, that we can turn to him and choose to receive his mercy, even in the midst of our greatest troubles.

I pray that my testimony of late has encouraged you to consider the workings and nature of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Though many live their lives as if he is dead, I can assure you that God is not dead. He is alive! And he is a God worthy of our worship and allegiance.

Father God, let our hearts be drawn into wonder of the beauty and majesty of your divine, loving character. Keep the eyes of our hearts far from wandering, that we may rather seek you in the darkness. You assure us in your Word that all pain and suffering will be washed away at the end of time...oh, how I look forward to the day, in which, I fully see and understand your reign in glory. Create in me a pure heart, fully reliant on your Word. You are are faithful...and you are just. Thank you for the cross, Jesus. Thank you for defeating sin and death and leaving the tomb behind that Sunday morning. Indeed, you are alive today, and we place our faith in your steadfast love. I pray that we would believe that though we face troubles in this world, you have overcome the deadliest and most painful of all sufferings. Lastly, I pray that this belief would regurgitate itself into a professed hope in who you are, what you've done, and what you are about to do. I believe that you are my healer, God. You reign in glorious light, in which I long to see. We give you all the praise and allegiance unto your name alone, Jesus.