My Bible fellowship group recently started sharing stories of our spiritual growth from our early childhood to the present, and something that seemed somewhat insignificant when I was in college now has significance.
. . . DeLayne Haga for His Love Carries Me. Yes, I won the “Henri Award” at the 2018 Christian Literary Awards gala! This is Joy & Company’s “most prestigious award among faith-based writers.” The book won in the “Non-Fiction” category against some strong competition. It was a night to remember with photos on the red carpet and an interview by radio personality/author Donna Patrick.
We had just found out the previous day at MD Anderson Cancer Center (in August 2010) that Chris was considered to have inoperable stage IV lung cancer, which had metastasized to the brain. As reality settled in the next day, I was an emotional wreck, no longer numb from the initial shock of the previous day’s news. But cancer wouldn’t wait for me to gain control of my emotions. It would continue to threaten my husband’s life at a rapid pace. I couldn’t let fear paralyze me. I needed to take action to learn how to best treat it and enhance my husband’s quality of life. I had a job to do as his caregiver, and I planned to give it my best shot. Being part of the team to save his life began with learning as much as I could about what we were facing.
This is a continuation of the previous blog. I hope you will be blessed by watching these videos.
Today’s blog is because of a woman I’ve never met who bought Cancer on Two Wheels and posted a sweet review on Amazon. She has inactive cancer, and a well-meaning friend asked her if it was depressing to read a book about someone who lost his battle against cancer.
Here is part of what she wrote:
These are the websites I found helpful. I do not vouch for their accuracy or endorse products, procedures, services, or medical advice given through these links. Do not substitute my opinion or those found on these websites for those of your personal physician.
Have you ever been puzzled by the “Big Pharma conspiracy theory?” I’ve lost count of the numerous times I heard accusations on social media that there’s a conspiracy between doctors and Big Pharma to hide the cure they’ve found for cancer so they can continue to rake in money through treatments and medications. I find that hard to believe. Doctors and biopharmaceutical employees and their families get cancer and use the same treatments they recommend to the public. If a cure existed yet, they would be using it themselves. But they die from the disease just like anyone else.
I’d like to fill you in on what my husband and I experienced firsthand and put the conspiracy theory to rest.
Although there’s never a good time to have cancer, this is an exciting era with scientific breakthroughs becoming increasingly common that extend the quality of life for survivors. I have hope that a cure for the disease will be found in the near future. Researchers continue to make great strides in understanding the biology behind cancer and developing new ways to deal with it. Treatments that didn’t exist just a few years prior to my husband’s diagnosis saved his life. He achieved “no evidence of disease” three times, and he lived six years instead of just six months.
Our friend Cindy passed away from lung cancer at age 39, and we attended her funeral in Houston on November 1. That day was difficult for both of us. With Cindy’s passing, four of the lung cancer patients we had become friends with and mentors to had died. They didn’t live as long with the diagnosis as Chris had. He had a little bit of survivor’s guilt because he was diagnosed first.
“Why am I still here and they’re not?” he asked.
Cindy’s death strengthened his determination to be a voice for people who can no longer speak for themselves here on earth. He wanted to raise awareness of this despicable disease and get it the attention it deserves.
The media has done a fantastic job of teaching our society that smoking can cause cancer. Now another harmful influence is causing deaths from lung cancer in those who have never smoked due to delayed diagnosis—stigma. People, including many doctors, still think that only smokers get the disease.
Be honest. When you hear that someone was diagnosed with lung cancer, is your first thought, “I’ll bet they smoked”? You would be amazed to know the number of times Chris was immediately asked, “Did you ever smoke?” His answer: “Never.”
10% to 15% of new lung cancer cases are among never-smokers.
60% to 65% of all new lung cancer diagnoses are among people who have never smoked or are former smokers.
If you have lungs, you can get lung cancer. Early detection is the key to surviving this horrible disease. My late husband was misdiagnosed for three months because his doctors never suspected lung cancer since he had never smoked. By the time he was diagnosed, it was Stage IV and had metastasized to his brain.
Symptoms of Lung Cancer
The signs and symptoms of lung cancer can take years to develop, and they may not appear until the disease is advanced. Some symptoms of lung cancer are in the chest:
Chris always wanted to raise awareness of lung cancer and get it the attention this despicable disease deserves, especially during November—Lung Cancer Awareness Month. He was upset that breast cancer—not lung cancer—was still getting all the media attention, with pink everywhere.
Back in 2012, he made the following tongue-in-cheek announcement on CaringBridge:
Seeing Chris so weak during radiation was scary. Formerly robust and full of vitality, he became skin and bones, sleeping a lot, and looking like “death warmed over.” I struggled to keep a strong front, holding a tsunami of emotions in. Occasionally, billowy waves crashed over me, destroying my façade.
Many mornings I’d have a smile on my face as I kissed Chris good-bye before I went to work. But as soon as I got in my car, tears started flowing, and I cried all the way to the office. My client and his wife, Jay and Lou Ann, were so compassionate. Having worked with them for eleven years in their home-based office, we’d become close friends. Seeing me walk in the door with a shiny red nose and bloodshot eyes, they knew I was having a rough morning and let me cry on their shoulders while they comforted me.
Six months after Chris was diagnosed and he had experienced setback after setback, we could have easily started feeling sorry for ourselves. But we had a reality check that I documented in my journal:
Wednesday, we were riding the shuttle van back to the hotel from MD Anderson. We stopped at a children’s hospital to pick up a mother and her nine-year-old son. She struggled to lift him into the front seat. He apparently had brain cancer, as he was bald and lacked motor skills and had tremors. The mother was cheerful, as was the boy. He sang with the radio on the way to the hotel (or at least attempted to sing). We were all laughing because he was so happy, and it was so touching.
Years ago, after listening to Dave Ramsey say that cancer insurance is a gimmick and isn’t needed if you have good health insurance, I agreed. But then my sister-in-law developed cancer and had previously purchased cancer insurance after her mother and sisters were diagnosed with cancer. It really helped them with extra expenses not covered by regular health insurance. I was finally able to talk my husband into allowing us to purchase cancer insurance in 2006 after his father died of cancer and his sister had been diagnosed with breast cancer. It was one of the wisest decisions we made.
You don’t truly understand the financial impact of cancer until it strikes your own home.
I had an opportunity to share about God’s faithfulness during an interview about Cancer on Two Wheels and His Love Carries Me on “The Review with Joy and Company” on live radio. It may not have been a loud roar like a lion, but it’s the loudest my lamb’s voice can do without becoming hoarse.
Although I was panicking and filled with anxiety the weekend before the interview, Joy, Rose, and Rosemary put me at ease, and it was an enjoyable experience. With each speaking engagement, I am becoming more confident as I share our story in speaking engagements. Here is the link to the interview on Facebook Live.
Cancer on Two Wheels and His Love Carries Me are nominated in 3 different categories for the 2018 Christian Literary Awards. In addition to the Henri Award (which is voted on by a review panel of judges), the readers have a chance to vote on their favorite book/author for the "Reader's Choice" in each category. Voting is open from October 1-15. Please vote for one of our books in:
Grief & Terminal Illness
Here's the direct link for the voting. https://christianliteraryawards.com/cast-your-vote/
In today’s world, so many people find themselves in the role of caregiver for elderly parents, spouses, disabled children, or siblings. Nancy has spoken with many of these caregivers and shares their unique stories on her blog www.faithfilledcaregivers.com. Nancy feels that with God, we can offer help and hope to each other and find victory through sharing our stories. Nancy encourages you to read her blog and know that you are never alone.
I have a confession to make. I used to open my Bible only on Sundays. I tried reading through the Bible many times over the years but lost interest because I was reading it as merely a historical book instead of the living Word of God.
We were driving to Houston once again, a captive audience listening to sermons on our favorite Christian radio station.
Robert Jeffress preached first. “It’s important to read your Bible every day, preferably first thing in the morning before your day starts.”
Chuck Swindoll was next. “I suggest reading your Bible first thing in the morning before starting the day,” he said.
Then came David Jeremiah’s sermon. “The ideal time to read the Bible is first thing in the morning before your day starts.”
Finally, Charles Stanley came on. I’ll give you one guess what the sermon was about.
“Okay, God, I got the message!” I shouted. His voice may not have been audible, but His message came through loud and clear. I needed to deepen my knowledge and strengthen my spiritual walk to make it through the tough times ahead.
At a Cancer Encouragement Group meeting I attended without Chris, the survivors updated the group on their status. After I told how Chris was doing, the leader then asked me, “How are you doing, DeLayne?” No one had ever asked me that. People would often ask Chris how he was doing with me standing right next to him, but it was as if I were invisible.
I was caught off guard by the question. I burst into tears, touched that someone cared about me. Someone understood I was suffering too. I later read an article regarding this phenomenon and became aware it would help me to discuss my feelings with other caregivers.