CONTENTS

Foreword by DeLayne Haga

Diagnosis

Questions

Wingmen

The Sycamore Tree

Eye of the Storm

Pepper

Changes

Finding the Right Gear

Blessed Assurance

Friends

Hope: Part 1

Hope: Part 2

Hope: Part 3

Hope: Part 4

Hope: Part 5

Hope: Part 6

Stinkin’ Thinkin’

I’ll Tell You a Secret

Area Fifty-One

Rear-View Mirrors

It’s a Wonderful Life

My Psalm

The Process

Old Stories: Noah

The Greatest Man I Have Ever Known

In the Cloud

A Dad, A Son, and His Bikes

Prayers

A Life Sentence

More Than I Can Handle

Sin and Love Held Him There

Right People, Right Place, Right Time

Chasing Dreams

Wet Feet

Limits

Things Cancer Has Taught Me

The Wind at My Back

One More Hill

Doubts

Standing on the Pedals

Purpose: Part 1

What a View

B-52

A Broken Vessel

The Pathway Back

Wrestling with Satan

The Next Step

The Potter and His Clay

Twenty-One

Purpose: Part 2

Uncertainty

Lessons from a Dead Battery

No Smell of Fire

Pruning

Deep Roots

Picking Up Bread Crumbs

Mountaintops and Valleys

Grapefruit

Armor Fitting

Put Me In, Coach

When Dreams Intersect

God and Pickup Trucks

No Evidence of Disease

Tough as Leather

The Best

Learning to Fly

Not Letting Go

Thirty Years

Unknown Land

A Collection of Randomness

Cups

Unbelief

Living Psalm 13

Vacation!

Made It to Five Years

Have I Been a Fool?

A Good Ride

Do Not Worry

The Last Word by DeLayne Haga

Afterword: Paying Homage by Shane Haga

Appendix: Lung Cancer Statistics and Symptoms

 

Foreword

By DeLayne Haga

      In 2010, the love of my life was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer that had metastasized to his brain. I was stunned—he had never smoked.

      The mass in my husband’s lung almost tripled in size within three months of his diagnosis to 13 centimeters—almost half the length of a ruler—before we found a successful regimen to shrink the cancer. The doctor originally gave Chris a prognosis of six months. Instead, he lived six years. Because he was officially declared to have “no evidence of disease” on three separate occasions, I still refer to him as “My Miracle Man.” I witnessed God’s glory multiple times.

      Chris was riding his bike eighty miles a week when diagnosed. Amazingly, he was able to continue riding his bicycle for several years, even with a collapsed lung.

      My husband chronicled his spiritual journey in a blog. Many suggested he turn it into a book because of his gifted, inspirational writings. They appreciated his transparency, as he didn’t portray the cancer journey as a bed of roses, and others with cancer could relate to his experience. There were some great times during the battle as well as less than desirable moments. It was obvious when he was struggling and losing hope for survival—especially the third month—as you’ll read in “Hope: Part 1.” He never posted parts 2–6, thinking they were too negative. I recently came across them in his journal and decided to publish them. Even in deep despair, his continued faith was inspiring. Though his hope in the doctors and medicine faltered, Chris’s love for the Lord and his trust in Him never wavered.

        My husband wrote about his spiritual insights and topics that were special to him as he realized what—and who—was most important in his life. You’ll read about his close relationship with our sons. He tells how his earthly father’s life shaped his own. But this isn’t a story about a man adoring his children or his earthly father. It’s the picture of a man worshiping his heavenly Father even when he didn’t feel worshipful.

      Chris portrays that it is normal and even acceptable to have doubts and to question God—God expects it. Facing a trial is an opportunity to explore your beliefs and to grow your faith. My husband realized that faith without trials requires no faith at all. Is your faith built on sand that will wash away easily—or rather on solid rock that will withstand the storms in your life?

        As you read, please take time to reflect on your own memories. Count your blessings. Let those you love and hold dear to your heart know it. What do you want your legacy to be?

        Chris struggled and sought to understand the purpose in having lung cancer. He desperately wanted something good to come from his experience that would help others, but writing a book was never on his radar. I chose to publish his journal to honor his memory as well as to fulfill God’s purpose and Chris’s desire to glorify Him through his journey of faith.

        This book seeks to proclaim how God worked through my husband’s life and is still working beyond his death as Chris’s spirit lives on. This is his legacy.

I will not die, but live, and tell of the works of the Lord.

—Psalm 118:17

 

Diagnosis

July 31, 2010

        It became official at 3:30 p.m. on July 30. I have lung cancer. Those are two words I never thought I’d hear a doctor tell me.

        One question that several people have already asked is, “How did this start?” In April, I was on a bike ride and was headed back home when I got a tickle in my throat and a cough. I didn’t think much of it and chalked it up to allergies. The cough steadily got worse over the next few weeks. Then in early May, I had a bad coughing episode at work. I went to the doctor, and he diagnosed it as an upper respiratory infection and put me on an antibiotic for a week. I started feeling better over the next week, but the cough stayed.

        DeLayne (my wife) and I took her mom to Atlanta to see her family in mid-May. I felt good but still had the cough. After we returned to Dallas, the cough came back with a vengeance, so I visited my family doctor. He ordered a set of chest x-rays and diagnosed me with pneumonia. I was prescribed another round of antibiotics and was told to come back in ten days so he could check to see if the pneumonia was gone. At my follow-up, he said my lungs were clear, even though I still had my cough. “That’s normal for pneumonia,” he said.

        Over the next three weeks, I continued to ride and noticed that when I rode, my airway opened up, and I could breathe much better. On the morning of July 5, I got up and went for an early-morning ride. I rode almost twenty miles and felt great. Dare I say, I felt fast. This was, without a doubt, the best I’d felt in two months, and I thought that I was finally getting over this stuff.

        Later that same morning, I went for my follow-up x-rays and doctor appointment. I about went into shock when he came in and told me that not only did I still have pneumonia, but it was worse. He provided me a pulmonologist’s name and said, “See him as soon as you can.”

        The month of July has been spent seeing either the pulmonologist or going to the hospital for CT scans and biopsies. The last biopsy confirmed I have non-small cell adenocarcinoma in my right lung. At this point, I’m not a good candidate for surgery because of where and how the tumor has grown. We’ll now start our search for treatment options.

 The day diagnosed with lung cancer

The day diagnosed with lung cancer

        This photograph is of me the day I learned of my cancer diagnosis. The bike I’m on is my road bike. I started riding a few years ago after the boys started riding and racing. I thought I’d go riding with the boys. That didn’t last long. The goal finally came to just trying to keep them in sight. So far, the doctors are telling me to keep riding as long as I feel like it.

        The morning after getting the diagnosis, I went for a ride. I made sure to ride a little farther than usual. I figured if I could ride just a little beyond the usual distance, it would be a small triumph over the cancer. After the last month, I’ll take victories where I can.

        I promise to keep this as lighthearted as possible. I’ll try not to preach, but God is already opening my eyes to many things, so be prepared.

 

Questions

August 2, 2010

        I’m learning what every cancer patient has to learn to deal with—the never-ending questions. There are questions from doctors, nurses, friends, and family. The worst ones are the questions from yourself. These are the ones that can keep you awake at night and defeat sleeping aids. So, in the interest of a better night’s rest, I’ll try to deal with a few of them here.

        Why me?

        According to the doctor, I’m just one of that small fraction of people who have zero risk factors and still get lung cancer. With my dad having three different cancers and my sister being a breast cancer survivor, maybe it’s genetic. For all the people who think I’m a little off, now you know. I might be genetically modified.

        In all seriousness, the question just might as well be, Why not me? I don’t think there’s anything so special about me that should guarantee I wouldn’t get cancer. I might as well have this as anyone else, and, as of yet, God hasn’t chosen to show me His complete plan. I’ll take this one day, one step at a time.

        Although I accept there’s not an answer to this question, and I try not to dwell on it, I’ll confess that Sunday evening I did have a real moment. DeLayne, Shane (our younger son), and I decided to run out and get a sandwich. As we walked up to the restaurant, I noticed a guy who had to be fifty to one hundred pounds overweight and smoking a cigarette. The thought popped into my head, And I’m the guy with lung cancer.

        Should I be mad at God?

        No, I don’t think so. If I should be mad at anybody, I would go with Adam and Eve. God placed Adam and Eve in the perfect world. Unfortunately, He gave them free will, and they messed it up. As a result, there are bad things in this world. Thankfully, God gave His one and only Son as a way to redemption and eternal life for the rest of us. I can’t imagine going through this mess without the knowledge that eventually my home is in heaven.

        Will I be healed?

        I sincerely believe that I will be. Some of you may think I’m totally off of my rocker with this one, but this actually did happen. It was the Sunday after getting the CT results that identified two tumors in my right lung. Shane and I walked into the sanctuary at church and sat down. I was looking through the order of service and scanned down to the day’s message title, “Healed of a Lengthy Affliction.” Out of nowhere, I heard a voice say, It will be a long, hard battle, but you will be healed. It wasn’t a loud, booming voice. I guess I’d call it that still, small voice we all want to hear.

        Imagine my surprise today when the pulmonologist said to me, “The bottom line is that you have lung cancer. You’re in for a long, hard battle.”

        Coincidence?

        I don’t think so.