Thanksgiving 2017

thanksgiving 5It was asked of us at our Thanksgiving table this year, “Tell something/someone specific you are thankful for.”

It was easy for me. I had a cancerous kidney removed three months ago. I didn’t know for sure it was cancer until it was removed and the pathology report came back. I am thankful to be here and healed.

Before, during and after my hospitalization, I felt the love from far and near. I was taken care of with whatever need I, along with my hubby, might have, even before being asked. My family, my friends, my neighbors, my church – oh my, I still feel the love! It’s overwhelming! My dear hubby stepped up in any and every way he could, way beyond his comfort level.thanksgiving 1

I posted three different times prior explaining my story which began in April – the week before Easter. You can read about it here:

Three Weeks

That Dreaded MRI

Unnecessary Parts?

To see my grown children actually “mother” me was something I’ll never forget. I was so proud – not only of their maturity but of their love and knowhow. Of course, they both have four kids each so have had lots of practice! 😊

To be humbled by my physical self – poorly at the time, and still not at 100% – and to ask for and accept help, is not my normal mindset.

As for my mental self, well, let’s just say that the anesthesia one receives during surgery lasts a long, long time! I’m still not sure I’m thinking straight. 😊

About five days after the surgery, my surgeon called. I began speaking before he did, wanting him to up my pain meds. I was in a bad way! When I finally let him talk, he began with, “I have your pathology report back and it’s very unusual. . .” Thankfully my daughter was listening in because after he agreed to up my pain meds, I pretty much stopped listening.

The “very unusual” part of his message was that I had two cancerous tumors in my kidney – one quite large. But the real clincher was that each tumor contained a different type of cancer!

The essential point and most important was it was all removed. No chemo or radiation necessary.

We already knew of two tumors present. The MRI was clear on that point. And I already knew that was unusual. Why? Because I googled it! Did you know there are forums for just about everything on the internet? Fascinating! I compared pain levels, size of tumors, types of cancer, etc. Never once did I find a comment about one having two tumors, let alone two different types of cancers.

This all began with a trip to the ER in April for a pain on the left side which went away. The CT scan led us to check further on the right side where the kidney lesions in question showed themselves. It was not a fluke. It was God!

A month or so later, I was in communication with my primary doctor. Since my surgery was in a hospital in a different network than my primary, she hadn’t yet received my reports. I mentioned that I had two different types of cancerous tumors. She too commented that it was quite unusual. Later when I had an appointment in her office, she shared that in her entire practice, which began in 1990, she had never heard of this.

As time passed, those comments began to roll around in my mind. So, I asked my surgeon directly using the medical portal (I love those!).

“I met with my general doctor last week for a routine visit. She said she had never heard of a kidney with 2 different cancers in it. I wondered if you had. I know you said it was unusual, so I wondered just how rare it is? Thank you!”

He responded,
“It is quite rare. Having more than one tumor in the kidney occurs in about 3% of people with kidney cancer. Having two different types of cancer in the same kidney is even more rare . . .”

I’m famous! “😊

Seriously, I’m not sure what to do with that information. Nothing except to thank God again for His arms around me and again be amazed at His work!

Someone mentioned that now I was a cancer survivor. I disagree to the point that I do not have to deal with chemo or radiation or other means to kill the disease that so many must be subject to. I didn’t have to think about it and the “what if’s” day in and day out for months or even years. In fact, the word “cancer” was never mentioned until the surgeon called that day – five days after the infected kidney was removed. The terms, “areas of concern” and “suspicious lesions” were used, but never “cancer.” I believe that’s a psychological ploy because we all knew the possibilities.

I don’t feel like a cancer survivor because I didn’t know I had cancer until I didn’t!

But everyday I’m overwhelmed with gratefulness and thankfulness to God, my hubby, my family, my neighbors, and my friends who took care of me. I look forward to opportunities to pass it forward.

“Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”
Luke 12:7

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In his own words . . .

IMG_7906Growing up in a strong, loving home in rural Virginia, my youth was very secure. My family faithfully attended a small, mainline protestant church where I knew everyone and everyone knew me. As an early teenager, however, I became immersed in the “party lifestyle”. Although from the outside I looked normal and responsible, obtaining good grades and being active in all kinds of activities in school, athletics and being a responsible family member on the farm, my lifestyle was anything but honoring to God and I grew further away from any connection to God.

In college my party lifestyle intensified and any relationship with God was nonexistent. I grew more selfish, only interested in myself, having fun and graduating from college to have a successful career. During this time, I noticed a change in my older sister’s lifestyle as she married, had children and became “religious”.

After college and working I continued on the self-indulgent lifestyle. Immediately before finishing college I had met and begun dating Dee, now my wife of almost 37 years. Soon after marriage we moved to St. Louis. Both of us had good careers, but began to notice something was missing in our life and there was a void that new marriage, careers and location was not filling. We pondered the things that my sister, her husband and others had shared with us and began searching. Not long after, a local Pastor (from a church my sister had found for us to attend) shared with me in a way I could understand for the first time who Jesus really was and that it was a personal relationship with Him and not religion or works which saves us. I asked Jesus to forgive me of my sins and I accepted Him as my Lord and Savior.

I was born again.

Since that time I have had the joy of being the father of six children, three now married, and eight grandchildren. Dee and I have the blessing of being active and serving in our local church. My faith in Jesus Christ has been increasing for almost 37 years. God has truly blessed me with a wonderful wife, children, and church family.

I know of many situations where God has not always blessed Christians with a life free from pain and suffering.

A little more than six years ago I was diagnosed with Stage IV throat and neck cancer. After a very intense period of surgery, chemo and radiation I believe God has healed me through medicine and gifted medical staff. The trial of cancer was a serious wakeup call and has strengthened my faith and the understanding for others going through various trials as scripture indicates we all will. Additionally, since my cancer we have experienced several trials with some of our children, including one daughter who currently has cancer.

Tom’s life Bible verse:

“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect”     1 Peter 3:15