Just want to start off by saying that I want to thank you for reading this and I do not want this to be
just another biography of someone’s life, but instead an encouraging, faith building, true experience that happened
to me. So read this and know that God can and will do the same for you. Put your faith in him and all things are possible.
Little history about myself, I was born in Provo, Utah in 1975 and then my family moved to Arizona when I was about two years old or so. I don’t remember anything about Utah, but loved Arizona for the time we were there. Moved to
a town called Tollison, Arizona
and that was the beginning of my memories of my life. This is where is I was inspired to play there drums, by watching our
drummer at church. He used to give me broken sticks and I thought that was the
coolest thing that he thought of me. I would go home and beat on pictures, pans,
whatever I could find, till Christmas morning when I was 7, my parents thought to save the furniture and the house from being
torn up they bought me my first drum set. It is a God given gift and I know that,
I know that now and I will explain that statement a little later.
When I was around 8 years old
my parents took a church in Sherwood Arkansas and we have
been here ever since.
Church is all I have ever known,
being a preacher’s kid it kind of goes with the territory. I have always
gone to church that was I all have ever known. My parents have been pastors of a church of some kind, be it a store front,
a big church, to a small church, or preaching revivals. My dad has a calling
on his life to preach and that is what he does and to me he is the best!!
In church is where God placed my best friend even till this day, and that best friend is also my soul mate. In England, Arkansas
my family were the pastors of The Pentecostal Church there in town and this is where I met Tracy. We were still kids, but God orders
every step that we take. We remained friends thru the years and even when we moved away we still stayed in touch until later
we crossed paths again, and we have been together ever since, thru thick and thin.
I could not do anything with out her. I know that I could not have made it thru this without her. She is a true warrior as a wife and as a part of our ministry team at the church. She does a lot and does
not get the credit she deserves, but I want to tell her I love her and appreciate all that she does, even the little things
that often go unnoticed.
I have always loved music and
I have been playing drums like I said as far as I could remember. When I was 15 I got my feet wet with a southern gospel group
out of Jacksonville, Arkansas
called the Sounds of Life. We traveled all over Arkansas,
Oklahoma, and into Tennessee,
and this was like a dream come true. I was honored not only to have some of the best musicians beside me at the time, which
has since gone on to other things, but we got to open for some of the biggest names in southern gospel music. We played with any one from Gold City, to the Statesmen Quartet, The Greens, The MaGruders , The New Hinson’s,
The Hemphill’s, the list is many and I even got to work some with the Gaither
home coming shows. The last tally we did was over thirty of the top name
groups in the business and that is something that I will never forget and will cherish forever. I have played with a few other
local bands, and I have had a chance to record about 5 albums and I thought that was great, but I have since committed full
time to church ministry.
True life prodigal Son
Then comes the time when you
think that you are grown and you want to go and taste of the world, well that is what I did, I thought that my talent was
good enough to play anywhere. I won’t bore you with a lot of detail, but I got out and thought that I wanted to play
for money and play in the bars, and clubs. I did that for bout two years and
the devil tried to steal me away, but Gods calling was always drawing me back. I
returned back to church and recommitted my life. God did not beat me up for stepping
out of his grace, it is because of his mercy that I was back home! Man
may rip you down for your past , and I was hard on myself, but God will never beat you up, because he loves you and he is
always there just waiting for you to come back down the road, and say dad I am sorry I messed up, please forgive me. I am home now back where I belong.
I am now 34 years old and I
am involved full time in the ministry at The Remnant Pentecostal church, and Tracy & I are the youth leaders and part
of the praise and worship team. I know that God has a special calling on my life
and the devil tried to kill me, but God is not done with me yet, and it is he that has the final WORD!!!
This is not a testimony for
you to feel sorry for me or have sympathy, this is to encourage, because one of the many miracles in all of this today is
that I don’t really remember most of all I had to go thru. I believe God only allows me to remember things that will
I was wondering where to start
this testimony off from and the only starting place is to start at the beginning. I want to speak from the heart and let the
Holy Ghost do the ministering. The bible states that we are made over comers
by the word of our testimony, and like Job I know in whom I put my trust, cause even recently we have still been tested like
Job, but we are made “Overcomers” and we are on the right path, cause the “Best is yet to come”.
I want this to be uplifting,
and encouraging, but most of all I want you to see God and his awesome power. I
know that as much as he has done for me, he will do for you, and loves you just
as much. You should never feel like he doesn’t. You are never to far gone that he cant reach his big hand down and pick you up and wrap his loving arms
around you. My Dad always said as long as there is breath there is hope.
Never Give Up Never Give In Never Give Out.
I want the Devil to know that
I am here to stay and fight. He has a black heart so I am going to give
him a black eye to go with it.
I stand here before you Free!!
God has plans for me and the devil knows that and the only thing that he can attack is this flesh, because the spirit is strong.
This is where my real testimony
starts, March 2008
In March of 2008 we started a new work called Victory Fellowship and when it started I am like okay, “this
will be a fresh start” and I remember it well. The first service we all came up front and we prayed. It was then I really
began to think about this knot under my arm. I was not really worried about it I just wanted it to go away, but it never did.
My Grandma was just diagnosed with lymphoma in this same month, and I felt like everything was in turmoil, but remember God
has all steps ordered and this was just a speed bump on the highway God has for me. Well the thing under my arm was a concern
so it was time to go the doctor and thus my journey begins and life will never be the same.
Dr Hayes: well what can I say? I went in and sat down and
he said “ Yep you got a knot there” and all I could think of was “wow you went to school for all those years
and that is all you can say?” Thanks doc.
I was joking of course. So he referred me to a surgeon to have the mass
removed for biopsy for further opinion. So he sent me to Dr. Stair.
Dr. Stair: As I sat there in his office looking at all the
Uams (University for medical sciences) plaques and frames( which come to find out is good friends with Deena one of the nurses
I work with) it was there I realized that God had his fingerprints on everything
up to this point. Stay with me because I want to show you how God laid all this out and has it all orchestrated.
…perfect 10 in 2005 With my Grandma Lynch passing away and then
my Grandpa Graves just months apart I come back to find all my stuff boxed up on my desk at my job at a satellite company
called perfect 10. That was the only job that had been fired from, but little
did I know that is was all divinely appointed. Susie Roberts a good friend from
the England church called me and said
that I could go to utemps at UAMS and probably could get me on there. Not
only did I work at the same place in the same building but I was placed in the same office as her and it just so happened
they needed someone to work in there. She
was training me for her position, she was moving to another floor. So again God was directing my path. Ever since then I have worked in the chemo room with coming to know patients and working closely with all
the apn ‘s (advance practice nurse) and all the doctors and I have really become their right arm in what I do. I have been there five years this September 2009. I work with multiple myeloma patients
and lymphoma patients. God was preparing me for what was to come.
Dr. Stair continue: So we talked and he ordered a biopsy of the mass and scheduled me for surgery and a return visit
to see him. May 27th 2008
was the last day I worked and on May 28th the mass was removed. The doctor stated that was the biggest thing he
had ever seen in the time he has been a surgeon. He said it was the size of a kidney, that is a big node. Well I had a few days to recoop and saw him again on June
June 3rd Dr. Stair was taking out the drain port and was making small talk. He then turned to
me and said that it is lymphoma like he thought. That is when I knew and thought to myself I can’t have cancer. I go
to church, I pay my tithes, I am a preachers kid), and then it sank in……I don’t blame God for this, cause
he does allow things to happen and remember we are flesh and that is all the the devil can attack.…and Dr. Stair asked
me if I knew any oncologist or if I knew where I would like to go. There was
only one place to go for treatment. First of all to Jesus and then to Uams. So
they called and worked on trying to get me an appointment with Dr Maddox Uams General oncologist and Dr Vanrhee our lymphoma
specialist, which was not taking any new patients, so we left and headed for UAMS to speak with Dr Anaissie in person which
is head over the supportive care group that I work for. He is also one of the head Doctors in the myeloma institute with Dr.
June 3rd, 2008 at
Dr. Anaissie : We sat down and he explained what Burkitt’s lymphoma (or Burkitt Lymphoma) is which is
an uncommon type of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL). Burkitt’s lymphoma commonly only affects children. It is a highly aggressive
type of B-cell lymphoma that often starts and involves body parts other than lymph nodes. In spite of its fast-growing nature,
Burkitt’s lymphoma is often curable with modern intensive therapies. If you can keep it in remission. He told me that
he would send an email to Vanrhee, and I told him that he was not taking any new patients and he said leave that up to me. About an hour later I was in Vanrhee’s office ordering all the initial work
up testing muga scan, pft’s, ct’s, pet, and bmp, lumbar punctures and all the blood work that goes with. Now
if you only know how I hated needles all this blood work was a nightmare in itself.
And I have not even gotten to the lumbar puncture or bone marrow part yet. Again
thank you lord for helping me thru this and not remembering much.
So went off to do blood work
and after four sticks he finally got it, and then we were off to do a cat scan, after sticking me again to put in a iv port
for the contrast they infiltrated me on the first get go and shot my arm full of contrast that really burned and hurt so he had to stick me again and they left in the port for
the pet scan next and it did not work for the pet so I had to be stuck again, it was about here I was like, “I don’t know if I can do this or not.” Then I remembered what Jesus suffered and I said you know he did that
for me, I can do this for him, and he will get the glory out of this.
So we moved on to Bone marrow
with gene array 14 aspirates. Then needed a Lumbar puncture to check the spinal fluid to make sure was clean. It was!
So it was time to talk about
chemotherapy, and Dr Vanrhee said that Burkitts has a special chemo regimen called Magrath’s protocol, Three cycles of chemo that has two parts A side and B side. The A side was on an inpatient basis due to the roughness of the chemo and how much
of it. The B side was not as severe just 12 hour days, but just as long in recovery
time. I got a central line placed and waited for a room in the hospital. This
took 10 days and so on Friday The 13th of June, I checked into the
Hospital for round one. Each round of A was a minimum of 21 days, the maximum was 30 days.
I really think that the chemo
to make you better seems worse than the disease itself, but I know that the treatment was only temporary and that the side
effects would pass. There were only a few days on all three sides of the part
A I was not sure. I had to have four lumbar punctures to give chemo in the spine
per cycle A: and they were brutal, the third one in I was ready to quit…they went thru a bone in my spine kind of like
a spur and it was like a bolt of lighting hit me and bounced me off the table, now keep in mind I have this two foot needle
in my spine and they are telling not to move. Easy for them to say, it was like I stuck my finger in a light socket, man it
hurt and they did that twice. I was ready to call it!, They called in a guy named
Jay and he was able to do things smoother and the others went okay too., I had 12 of those L.P. total for all three rounds.
Part A had some heavy hitters
in the chemo department and it was pretty rough, Below is the list of the A side and B side Chemo.
CODOX-M – Part A Chemo
Cyclophosphamide ( known at the the “red Devil”)
Methotrexate (one full bag in 2 hours and then one bag over 24 hrs
IVAC – Part B Chemo
Ifosfamide and Mesna
Etoposide (also called VP16)
Cytarabine (also called Ara-C)
Methotrexate ( via lumbar puncture)
first few days of round one was okay.. I thought it was going to be fine. Tracy would go to work at 4 am and come back to hospital at 11:30. She
stayed and slept there the whole time. She only would go home on church nights.
Sundays she would do laundry, and the rest of the time she was there by my side.
During one church service, she called me and I listened to the service via the cell phone. Wishing I could be there, you never know how much you miss something until you cant be a part of it. Never take church for granted, if you get a chance to go you should, because there
will come a day where you wish you would have.
Dad was having a hard time with his baby boy being down, and he once made the statement to me, that if he could change places
with me he would. I told I him I would never let him do that. I care too much
for him and no one should have to go though any of this. This is my battle to
fight and the Lord is going to bring me through this.
The date was June 26th
on a Sunday, which was the day my hair started to fall out in clumps, so Tracy
had to shave what was left off. This was the first time that my Dad was
able to come and see me, it was not because he did not want too , it is like I said above it was just because he could not
stand to see me in this condition. By this time I was not able to eat or could
not stand the smell of food, because it would make me sick to my stomach.
chemo therapy it destroys everything good and bad in your immune system. I had
the no white count to fight off infections of any kind. I had the immune system
of a new born, so with that the Mucositis set in my mouth and all down my GI track. I was not able
to eat, I could barely drink water, and anything else would just burn my mouth horribly.
It looked like I went ten rounds with Mike Tyson and lost, lips where swollen and would bleed all the time and they
hurt. It would keep me up at night which did not help the cause any. The second
round in the hospital it go so bad that I was on a morphine pump for a week and was pretty much out of it for four days. It would pass once my counts started to recover, but those where some very tough days,
with no food in, no drink in, so they put me on IV replacements. Then it would
finally pass, and would start to get better and I would only be able to eat soft foods, like mac and cheese and Vienne’s. I had to get several blood and platelet
transfusion due to my system being down. I had people donating blood and platelets
from all over, and I could never imagine how overwhelming the response was. People
would bring boxes of food and took Tracy to eat to kind of
get her mind of things and just to get her away from the hospital.
Doctor wanted to got ahead and collect some stem cells just in case I would need a transplant down the line, which I wont
or will ever need, but at the end of the first round I collected over 49 million cells in just bout 5 hours. They tell me
that many is more than enough. The cells are in a freezer and wish I was a match
for someone, because I would give them to them. I was discharged
from the hospital one round one, was able to spend Fourth of July with family
and planned to start part B round one in the MIC which is where I work the next
Part b Round one: On a Sunday July 13th 2008 I had a kidney stone the first day of chemo which
I don’t remember any of this day, a lot of this treatment I was asleep because it was such long days. I also spent my birthday doing Chemo on the 29th.
No mouth issues on this side, but platelets were an issue and I started having real bad reactions to the platelets, I had these big red whelps come up that look like bug bites, it did not bother me
as far as a side effect, just made everyone else nervous. It was just ugly to
look at, and I had to get over it by the time we went to church on Sundays. We
would go in between services for a shot and replacements.
At least on being on a outpatient
bases I was able to be going to church, and I was still playing drums ,but I felt really bad most of the time and had to wear
a mask, because I had no white count and was near zero.
Made it thru part B cycle one
with no real complications. Back to the doctor and he found another lymphnode
in my groin that he thought was a concern. He ordered to do a fna( fine needle aspirate) of it to make sure it was just infection
or just to find out what it was. They tried 4 sticks with no luck ….had to do a removal of the node via surgery with
Dr Cone here at UAMS ( just so happens to be another good friend of Deena’s) and the report was clear. This was the end of August 2008 and into September 2008.
Cycle 2 In September 2008 went
back into the hospital. This was the cycle of the Mucositis real bad and the morphine pump (weeks worth), My cvl dressing was giving me a allergic reaction
so this was having to be changed daily and this lasted for the rest of my treatment. One
of my spinal lumbar puncture chemo treatments fell on September 14th which is Tracy
& I’s wedding anniversary. We are usually in Florida
on vacation this time of year, but not this time and it was real tough being in this condition and having done what was being
done on this special day. They Let Tracy come back in the procedure room
which was usually off limits, but this was the beginning of something new. The
punctures were much better and she was there too which helped me thru these. I
only had a few left to go and she was able to come into everyone. God helped
me thru it all and I finished that round, and finished round two part B as outpatient.
Cycle 3 End of October 2008,I
was inpatient back to the hospital for the last time. I have a friend in Ken a pharmacist in the hospital that recommended
a powder to mix in any drinks or milkshakes to help protect from the mucositis. It really worked, the third round was no where
as bad and the first two, we were able to get finished with treatment and out of the hospital in time to enjoy Thanksgiving
with the family and now have a new respect for giving thanks.
Thru it all God stayed faithful
and there was a song that kept going over and over in my mind all the time and it really helped me thru times of doubt and
So I thank God for the mountains
And I thank Him for the valleys
I thank Him for the storms He's brought me through
if I never had a problem
I wouldn't know that He could solve them
I wouldn't know what faith in
His Word could do
Through it all
I've learned to trust in Jesus
I've learned to trust in God
Through it all
Through it all
learned to depend upon His Word
Last doctors apt was December
19th and got the all clear report. December 22nd 2008 was the day I got my port out and I have not taken anything med’s or any chemo since that day.
What a Christmas present that was. I have a complete clean bill of health and
have never felt better in my life. I know that God healed me 100%. I have to
check up everyone once in while, but it is in and out and see you next time. All reports have come back great and many more
to come. I returned to work January 5th 2009 and I have only missed
a couple of days due to allergies. We even made Florida
this year and had a great time.
Another miracle in itself is
that we continued to paid tithes and through out this whole time, there was catastrophic leave pay so I never missed one pay
God blessed us with a new home
in February of 2009.
Free is the theme of this testimony
and I am because the price has already been paid, what I went through was nothing compared to what Jesus did and he paid the
ultimate price, yeah I might have scars on my neck and 16 holes in my back, but I really believe that the scars on Jesus back,
hands, and side still hurt him today when he see us and how we refuse him. I
know it hurts his heart when we run from him. You want to be free, well you can
be, it is as easy as just receiving the payment in full that has already been paid.
Thank you to Jesus for all
that you have done for me, calling me, and for healing me.
I have people to thank, all
the prayer warriors from California to Florida
and all points in between. I know that without them none of this would be possible
because prayer works! Special thanks to my good friends Steve and Anita that
brought food by the boxes, and others that brought food to the hospital. Thanks to all that called and came and visited me. You showed true friendship and love.
Thanks to my Mom for driving
me all those days to the hospital and taking care of Austin
To my little man, Bubba daddy
loves you and thanks you for being strong for dede! I love you.
There is one who was the true
warrior in all of this. I really do believe angels exist and because of her I
was able to go through this. Tracy slept on a futon, worked at 4am-1130am Monday though Friday, took care of me, went to church
and the list goes on and on. I Love You Bebe for all that you do!!
And a special thanks to you
reading this I hope that I have had said something to encourage you, and if you are sitting and reading this and you think
that all is hopeless, well trust me my friend when you have Jesus you have hope. Never Give Up, Never Give In, Never Give
God bless you,