Family, Friends, and Faith

Do you remember 4H clubs? Our daughters were in 4H. I don’t have a clue what the four H’s are, but I know two of our girls learned to raise rabbits, kill and dress them, and trade them for shoes. Cool business persons we created. Now I want to create the 3F Club. Why? Because I believe the three F’s are essential to the successful treatment and cure for cancer patients.

Family is first for a reason. They are, with the exception of the patient, the most directly affected by cancer. Cancer invades the life of the entire family: spouse, children, parents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. When I was but a child and didn’t understand much at all, I knew my cousin, Nancy, was seriously ill. I think I heard the word leukemia, but it could have been anemia. Since Nancy has grown to be a strong woman with children of her own, I suspect the latter. What I know for sure is that the entire family were not only aware of the situation, but involved in helping Nancy heal. Years later, my mother was attacked by breast cancer. Surgery seemed to solve the problem without radiation or chemotherapy. Both were in an “infancy” stage in our community. Nearly five years later, it returned. Chemo, radiation, and the best care she could get failed to save her that time. She suffered. Dad suffered as her primary caregiver. My brother and I suffered watching helplessly on the sidelines. Our wives and our children suffered as Mom struggled and lost. In each case, family was critical to healing and wellbeing. One resulted in a cure, the other in death. Now I have cancer, CLL, and my family is deeply involved in the process of treatment and healing. Family are on the front lines in the fight for a cure.

Friends are critical to a patient’s care. Mom’s friends were invaluable. They formed a support group to meet the needs of the immediate family. Transportation? Supplied. Food? In abundance. Relief for Dad? They stepped up and took charge. Encouraging visits? Of course. Our friends are doing the same. Some have given money to help us cover expenses. Others have helped with chores that I have not been able to accomplish. Prayers? From around the world. Encouraging notes? In abundance. I don’t know what we would do without our friends. They are literally taking a load off our minds. While we are gone from home, they are seeing to the yards, overseeing repairs to a rental, helping pay the bills, and much more. Without friends, a cancer patient’s struggle will be much harder. Friends are an extended support group.

Faith is that invisible force that powers a patient from within and without. Long ago, and I’m not saying this to boast, Melanie and I put our faith in God, not just for salvation, but for guidance for our daily lives. We know that He has our best interest at heart. He knows the reasons for all that happens to us. He knows the outcome. We have put Him in control knowing that He is the master Pilot. I’ve been asked if I worry about taking experimental drugs. No, I don’t. I firmly believe God has led us to MD Anderson and will put us in this program. I firmly believe that He will provide a healing through a stem cell transplant. Not only that, but I am not afraid of what will happen if either of these actions fail. He has a plan for me, and when I have done all He asks, He will reward me with an eternity with Him in Heaven. My faith sustains me. Melanie’s faith sustains her. The faith of our family and friends sustains us both.

Not only do I have faith in God, but I have faith in my doctors, nurses, and medical support team. I believe MD Anderson has the best medical professionals in the world when it comes to cancer. They do too. When we fly into Houston Hobby airport, signs everywhere speak faith to arriving cancer patients. Signs with MD Anderson’s logo, the word Cancer with a red slash through it and the picture of a cured patient, calmly says, “You’ve come to the right place. Here is a person who has been healed. You will be too.” I want to dwell in that faith atmosphere. I want to absorb that faith, that confidence. I want my picture on one of those signs.

Family, Friends, and Faith. The three F’s. We all need them. Join the club. Be a receiver or a giver. Be a part of the healing club.

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