Dave’s been running the longest cancer race ever; like NASCAR, where the cars keep going around and around the track, lap after lap after lap. “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize” (1 Cor. 9: 24 NIV).
These cars often crash. And sometimes they crash and burn. That’s what we felt like a couple weeks ago. It seemed Dave’s race was over. The cancer scan showed growth in a few of the larger cancerous tumors, no shrinkage, plus a few more that hadn’t been there before. But, the cancer still hadn’t spread outside of his stomach. Originally, Dave had been through so much trauma, he didn’t want chemo at all. He was all ready to meet Jesus.
Yet, Dave has a family, and friends, and people he loves. He asked God for a little more time to get things in order to make things easier on us. When someone chooses to stay for loved ones, and to share The Good News about Jesus, it’s an honorable sacrifice. For this cancer race, Dave deserves a trophy. “No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize” (1 Cor. 9: 27).
After the scan results, I was deflated, nauseated, and numb. Dave was accepting. But then he began to have severe anxiety, including an awful panic attack. Depression was setting in. I wasn’t seeing his peace anymore. I didn’t have peace either. I’d had to give my children bad news all over again.
I was stressed out of my mind and completely overwhelmed. Would I be holding up the ship, homeschooling, paying the bills, selling our house, dealing with my own health issues, and planning a memorial service? My daughter’s 13th Birthday in September, Thanksgiving, Christmas… some of our favorite times of the year! No! This was just too much.
I began to ask God where my hope was supposed to be found, because I know our hope is found in Jesus. But I felt that hope sifting like sand through my hands. “May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word” (2 Th. 2: 16-17).
We met with hospice oncology and the hospice team. They were wonderful. We felt good about them, and we still do. But, I was troubled by Dave’s stubbornness and depression. I just wanted to lay everything on the table, all the options, so we could make the best decision moving forward. Dave didn’t want to listen. He was getting his disability benefits in order for our family, which I appreciated, but how could he be leaving us so fast? I didn’t want him to suffer any more, but what if these options could provide decent quality of life? More time for us to be with the husband, father, brother, and Christian friend we love. Would he be interested?
It didn’t seem like it. He wanted no more chemo, no more surgeries, no more anything. I’d promised him I would not allow him to suffer, so I felt helpless. His oncologist told him if he’d never had chemo, he’d now be dead. We had a discussion about how even though his cancer didn’t shrink, it stayed contained. The prayers and chemo kept it from spreading. Was there a reason?
The oncologist told Dave, that without chemo, at the most, Dave had six months to live. I didn’t believe he even had that. My belief was that he had a month. I’d seen how this fast-moving, aggressive cancer had destroyed him in the first month, going from stage one to stage four; because the hospital had missed it on the scan a month prior. Sickening. My world was closing in. I can’t believe this is happening.
It’s now or never. So, under puffy white clouds in a blue, blue sky; and under a canopy of sparkling stars in an ink black sky, and under a double rainbow in a pink sunset sky; I now pray to God for more time, as long as Dave doesn’t suffer. I ask for seven more years… a biblical number. I ask God how I am I supposed to hope, if there are options and my husband won’t listen to any of them. I know he’s extremely exhausted, and has had enough. I don’t want to be selfish, but I’m thinking about Strength Through Jesus. Can this strength give us more time?
I pray against depression, stubbornness, and fear for Dave; in Jesus’ name. I ask Dave to do the same, and I tell him I just want us to be sure those evil spirits aren’t in the way, clouding his decision. And I leave him be.
And suddenly there’s a shift. My loving, close friend, Monica; is calling with a miraculous story about Fen Ben (Fenbendazole). Fen Ben is strangely, a veterinarian drug for dogs, a de-wormer. It has been found to kill cancer stem cells. I’ve seen and received some of this info before; but it was when we were living in a surreal whirlwind, dealing with chemo and IV fluids, chemo rage, medications, pharmacies, appointments, and sheer exhaustion. I’d seen so many alternative treatments out there, along with scams, that I didn’t even know where to begin.
But this time feels different. My dear friend has patiently persisted, waiting for God’s timing to bring up the information again. Her own brother has cancer too, and even before he got cancer, she’s been here for us from the beginning. The story she sends grabs my attention… and it grabs Dave’s.
A woman with a husband who has a very similar cancer to Dave’s, had been diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer at the same time as Dave. Her husband had also run a very long and difficult race. The wife believed he was doing better now, because of prayers and Fen Ben, not chemo. The husband had received HIPEC surgery, which is also available for Dave, but it’s a very long, intense surgery, where the abdomen is bathed in chemo for 16 hours. This man with colon cancer was even able to have some larger tumors removed. He is now cancer free, and preparing for a reversal of his colonoscopy bag. Miraculous! At this point, what have we got to lose?
Out of the blue, Dave tells me he’s planning to do another round of chemo. My mouth falls open. I’m shocked. He agrees to do the Fen Ben, and orders the regimen on his own, along with the supportive supplements. In my mind, I see a cloudy, gray sky with a tiny blue sliver of blue sky… the silver lining… Hope! He’s thought this through. He’s prayed about it, without pressure. Though the body of his race car has been smashed, and his gas tank is almost empty; Dave is still running on strength through Jesus. “Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air” (1 Cor. 9: 26).
Meanwhile, we’re excited, because our fabulous family friends from Florida come to visit, and we have the best, best time! We’ve known each other since before we had children. Two of our boys have the same name. We’ve traveled to Canada together. We’ve held each other’s babies, and watched them grow. It’s exactly what we needed to fill our home with light. “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing” ( 1 Th. 5: 11).
PIT STOP: It just seems like God’s timing, that Dave’s decision comes along with all the family and friends who continue to reach out with prayers, support, and joyful visits. They are ordering Strength Through Jesus t-shirts, bringing food, and coming to visit and treating us with care, as if we are “normal.” They’ve sent info on cancer trials, Bible verses, and come to pray with us. Both of our sisters talk about coming back to visit as well. Joy! It’s been a whole six months, and our support network is stronger than ever. We’re in awe! The support, love, and prayers are still coming! Brothers and sisters in Christ are not giving up on us! It really does make a difference to look for the silver lining!
On our last night together, our two families do a photo shoot. We are missing their youngest son, because he has school, but we talk about how we hope we can see him soon. We wear each other’s t-shirts and take photos. Our family all puts on Good Dog Activewear shirts, which support animal rescue organizations. It’s the t-shirt line our friends Heather and Kevin started, and it’s fun to wear the Good Dog shirts when their family is right here with us. Their family is wearing our Strength Through Jesus tees and hoodies. Then we all put on the Strength Through Jesus shirts, and the atmosphere is fun and silly and joyful. It’s for Dave, and it’s all about Jesus! And just like that, out of nowhere, clouds appear right behind all of us for our last photos, and the silver lining is in the sky!
And now we’ve just found out that these same beloved friends, Heather and Kevin, have secretly worked with our son, Nick, to get our Strength Through Jesus logo put onto a NASCAR. Their wonderful cousin owns Front Row Motorsports. The logo our son created is on car #38, perfectly placed on the driver’s door!
My husband was invited to go to the race this year, but unable to make the trip. When he sees the photo, he is on cloud 9! It doesn’t matter to him if anyone buys a t- shirt from seeing the logo, or that it’s even our logo, although that is very cool! What is he excited about? “JESUS is on a NASCAR!”
So, if you’re watching the NASCAR race this weekend at Watkins Glen, look for car #38, and cheer for Todd Gilliland! Know that Strength Through Jesus is what we all need when we’re in the pit. Dave has been saying, “Well, maybe I can stick around a little longer…” This does not mean it’s easy for him. It’s the complete opposite. But God has certainly sent many people to love on him and our family, and the silver linings are creating light.
Please continue the prayers for more healing, less suffering, and at least seven more laps around the track of life (or more) if God is willing. Because we serve a God of miracles, we’re still hoping and praying Dave can stay here longer even though Heaven is so much better! We love him a lot and are thankful for all the love you are sending him too.
Regardless of future decisions Dave chooses about his treatments, he has been strong beyond belief. He’s run his race, and he’ll be getting his reward of a crown worth well more than a trophy! “Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever” (1 Cor. 9: 25).
One day at a time, one lap at a time. Keep looking for the silver lining, and keep relying on Strength Through Jesus! Whether it’s on a t-shirt, or a car, or any way you choose; shout his name from the mountain top: “JESUS!” Don’t be ashamed, because Jesus will then be proud to lead you into Heaven’s Gates!
“Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.” (Lk. 9:26).
Dave’s Testimony All stories are in order by date; scroll to the bottom to read in order.
1st Post on Dave’s Testimony – when it began: contains all links in order, and extra related links.
How to order: Good Dog Activewear
Angela Royse Pelleman