Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Gust Post: "This Journey is in His Hands"

One could say I’ve always been the kind of person that tries to do everything on his own and when all else fails, I call on God. My entire life up until March 2015 was pretty much this way. Don’t misunderstand; although God and I have had a great relationship and we have communicated a lot over the years, I have been going about things all wrong. Regardless of my faith and wavering trust in Him, I was about to learn I was too involved and He wasn’t involved enough.

Prostate cancer – a word I never imagined using or knowing much about in my life. The first indication of “cancer” was at my annual physical in February of 2013. At this time my PSA, a blood test which indicates IF you have cancer of the prostate, came back at 4.3. When looking at PSA levels, anything over 2.0 is suspect and you must proceed with more testing. In March of 2014, a biopsy confirmed the cancer.

The first step of treatment was to have hormone injections and radiation treatments. In March of 2015, after a year of treatments, I learned that nothing had worked. The PSA continued to rise and I was told it was time to try chemo. I was told by my doctor that IF the chemo worked, I would have at most 12-14 months left to live. After 3 months of chemo, I learned yet again that it wasn’t working; my body simply wasn’t responding to any treatment. The doctor then put me on a chemo pill which is where I am today.

All the treatments and the news of my time on earth possibly being cut short was sobering to say the least. Needless to say, my entire perspective OF and ON life changed. I no longer had control nor could I fix this “cancer” I have. The biggest change was the realization that this was something only GOD could handle. It was time for me to lay everything at His feet and let His Will be done.

Here is where things get interesting. The Thursday following the news, I was scheduled to have lunch with my friend Mark Slimer. Mark had taken the liberty to invite Jacob Hare to join us. Although Mark asked if I minded Jacob joining us, I told him no, the more the merrier! I figured this would allow me the chance to meet and spend time with one of the newest additions to our church. We had a great lunch and the fellowship was nothing short of super.

On Sunday of the same week, Jacob called me aside before the service and said he recently had a bad day. Typically when that happens, Jacob thinks of someone who has more problems than he does and he thought of me. He said he always feels better by doing this and he lifted me up in prayer for a solution to my cancer.Since retirement, my wife Sylvia and I have established a routine of spending the morning hours drinking coffee, discussing our day, our children, etc. This routine has become important to us both as we never had this while I was working. This particular Monday, the day AFTER talking to Jacob, I had an early appointment and was gone from the house until around noon. When I got back, Sylvia greeted me with “we are going to Germany to get your cancer treated.” Can you imagine the shock? Before I could even digest what she was saying, she began telling me why.

With me not around that morning, Sylvia called an old friend, Liz Bemis, with whom she hadn’t spoken to in over a year…just to catch up. My condition came up in the conversation and Liz told Sylvia of a friend of hers who had unexpectedly dropped by to share his good news of having had his prostate cancer cured. It seems he had heard about the treatments offered in Germany (my understanding is they are not FDA approved), went there and was now cancer free.

After getting as many details as she could from Liz, Sylvia hit the internet focusing on research of cancer treatments in Germany and found a wealth of information. The cancer treatments they perform are called Hyperthermia (the belief that heat kills cancer cells) and, as it turns out, are not new treatments at all. They are very common in other countries but not in the United States. In fact, Germany has numerous clinics and hospitals that offer and specialize in the treatments.

While going over Sylvia’s extensive research as well as the testimonials, I was convinced to give it a try. All of a sudden a light came on in my head. Could it be that God was showing us a path to be taken as an answer to our prayers? There were too many coincidences and neither of us believe in “coincidence”.

It was now Monday around 1:00pm. Remember, I had just had lunch with Mark on Thursday, met Jacob and then Jacob happened to pray for me over the weekend. Now it’s Monday and we learn that Germany could possibly have a cure for cancer? To add to all of this, both mine and Sylvia’s passports had expired, we had no dog sitter, no airline reservations and most importantly, we had not even checked to see if the clinic in Germany could take us on such short notice.

As it turns out, our oldest daughter Shannon just “happened” to be at our house spending a few days and agreed to see what we could do and how fast. The clinic had an immediate opening, Shannon arranged for passports in four days, our youngest daughter Stacey had just moved from Virginia to Wingate and could keep our dogs. Shannon found a non-stop flight to match the clinic’s schedule, etc. “Coincidence”? I don’t believe it.With a great many people praying for me, we go to Germany, I receive the treatments, get another MRI and the doctor tells me that the cancer has not spread. Most importantly, the doctor in Germany believes it can be controlled and give me more time here on Earth. Sylvia and I leave Germany after 3 weeks and come home with a new outlook on life. The treatments will require a follow up trip(s) to see how successful they were and what, if any, new areas to be treated.

Beginning with Mark Slimer introducing me to Jacob through having the support of my local doctor, I have lost count of the stepping stones that have been laid in my path. Other than God Himself, there is no “silver bullet” of course. I don’t know IF my cancer will be cured or controlled but I DO KNOW that by turning over the entire issue to God I am in His hands and not my own and THAT is a very comforting feeling.

I humbly ask for your continued prayers and support as my journey from cancer is far from over. I am currently waiting on the latest PSA results and headed back out to Germany on Saturday, August 15th. My wife and I will stay for a minimum of 3 weeks. The treatments for cancer in the United States are just not working and God has put Germany in my path. It is up to me to follow His lead and trust in Him with all I have. Some days this is extremely hard but I know without a doubt it is what I’m supposed to do. If you wish to follow my journey, please follow me on Facebook through the page “Dad’s Journey.” My daughter updates this every few days and will update daily while I’m in Germany. Should you not do Facebook and wish to stay updated, feel free to email my daughter Shannon at shannon.w.frick@gmail.com.

Many thanks for your support and prayers and just for caring…there are no words to express my appreciation. Love to you all, Steve

Steve and Sylvia Woodrow, both retired and members of Sardis Presbyterian since 2011, spend their time between Charlotte and Blowing Rock.

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