I’m privileged to be interviewing John Bennet, author and banker.
John shares with us his journey through a cancer diagnosis and treatment.
- John’s long treatment process to move through the cancer
- How John responded after finding out he had a terminal cancer
- How has cancer been a blessing to John’s life
- John’s prayer life
- Submitting to God’s sovereignty
Carrie: Welcome to Hope for Anxiety and OCD, episode 76. Today on the show, we’re gonna be talking about joy in the midst of trials. And our guest today is gonna be talking about his journey through a cancer diagnosis and treatment. This is John Bennett. He is a banker, author of the book, Build it right for business owners and a cancer survivor. John, welcome to the show.
John: Thank you very much. Glad to be here.
Carrie: I also should say, I feel like I inherited you as a friend when I married Steve, is that fair?
John: Yes. I think that’s very fair. Definitely.
Carrie: And I just appreciate you and your wife’s friendship and how you encouraged Steve before I even came along that God has somebody for you. And so it’s nice that we have people each in our lives that encouraged us and prayed for our future spouse. So I just think that that’s really sweet.
John: Definitely. It was an enjoyable part of a friendship, for sure.
Carrie: This is gonna be really interesting because I don’t know this part of your story. So I’m kind of learning along with the audience a little bit. Tell us about the process of getting diagnosed with cancer. What was that like for you?
John: Okay. About three and a half years ago, I was totally healthy. Never had any big health issues in my life and started having pain in my lower back. And we thought at first it was maybe. Needed a chiropractic adjustment, different things, check different things out. It kept getting worse. And obviously eventually it was diagnosed as cancer. It’s a blood cancer called multiple myeloma and it’s considered a terminal cancer. Although the treatments have come so far in the last few years that some doctors look at it as potentially a chronic disease and not terminal.
So, it’s still to be determined on that. But I went through a period of time after the diagnosis where I had to go through, started off with chemo. Went through four rounds of that. Actually I started with radiation. They radiated my spine to kill the cancer in my spine. And then I went through chemo and then I had to have three back surgeries because the cancer had gotten into my spine and one of my vertebrae had completely collapsed and another one had partially collapsed. So, they had to go in and fix that. And then I went through a stem cell transplant. And after that I had about 14 more rounds of chemo. So it was a pretty long process there for a while to move through the cancer.
Carrie: Wow! How long has it been?
John: It was three and a half years ago.
John: When I was originally diagnosed.
Carrie: That’s a long treatment process.
John: It was long. It built even more tenacity in me. Thankfully, I had a good bit of endurance and tenacity, but it certainly increased that. But yes, it was very much a long process.
Carrie: Going back to thinking about when you were first diagnosed and someone says you have this very serious cancer, we consider it to be a terminal cancer. How did you respond to that emotionally?
John: You know, I am a Christian and my faith in God is the rock of my life. I knew I had a choice initially with the diagnosis, so I could either surrender that to God and acknowledge that he was totally in control or I could panic. I could do one of two things. And so I chose to embrace it, which is maybe odd, but I chose to embrace it. And I thought for some reason, God has ordained me to have cancer. I didn’t get really depressed or down like a lot of people do. I chose a different route and the way I had to deal with it emotionally and spiritually was to realize that my time might be a lot more limited than I originally thought it would be.
I was planning on living to a ripe old age and had really tried to keep myself in good health. And I had to look at the very real possibility that the timeframe of life might be drastically different. I knew I would have to reprioritize a lot of things in my life. I knew that career aspirations might change dramatically. I knew that my body expectations of what I could do physically would probably have to be adjusted a lot. I would have to really adjust my expectations and accept my limitations. And yet, try to overcome as many of those as I could too. Cause I kind of wanted to look at it from a balance of I’m trusting God a hundred percent. And if he takes me out of this life with this cancer, I wanna be okay with that.
But it doesn’t mean I’m just gonna sit back and give up either I wanna work. I want to do everything. The doctors are telling me. I want to try to eat as healthy as I can. Exercise, definitely stay on all my medication, stay on top of all the testing, everything possible that could be done. That’s kind of how I looked at it. I guess I’d really just stepped back and looked at it as a challenge that God had put in my life. And I thought somehow he is going to use this in a great way. And I remember sending out an email to all of my coworkers just to let them know what was going on. I thought I would just make it. Really an open situation. So nobody felt weird about asking me or whatever, and I kind of described what was going on. And I remember in the email, I said, “I have no doubt that God is gonna make me a better person and a better leader through this”. And so I’m looking forward to the challenge and I intend to embrace it and, and roll with it.
So that made a huge difference. I think in the way that I was able to walk through the process and did I ever get down? I did have a couple of what I call gut punches in the process. We had a hard time getting me into remission. When I went through the stem cell transplant, I was not in a complete remission. That’s why we went through another 14 rounds of chemo after that, which was probably more than most people have to deal with. That have this cancer. Most people can get into a remission. The first time with less, we got to the point where I was talking to the two specialists I was working with and they were saying, “we may not be able to get you there. You may just be able to get to a partial remission”. And I said, “well, as long as I’m handling the chemo, let’s keep going until we’ve beat this thing as much as we can”. And then determined that I said, “I’m not ready to give up on that yet”. And by the grace of God, we got there, got me into complete stringent remission, which has been fabulous.
I’m glad I kept on, but there was, I would go in and I remember one time I went in and the levels had gone back up. After all this treatment, and that was a gut punch. It was like work so hard and I’m trusting God and I’m moving forward, but it’s going the other way. There were a couple of challenges there where things didn’t go as planned, but overall it was a pretty positive process and God was unbelievably faithful.
Before I forget this part, I’d say the biggest part of my treatment was having. I think, literally hundreds of people praying for me every time somebody would say, “Hey, can I put you on my prayer list for my church or my Sunday school class or life group or Bible study”. I’m like, please do just very, very open about that. And I know I had hundreds of people praying for me on a daily basis and a lot of ’em would text me. Your husband was one of them, Steve. And that I have no doubt.
God answered so many prayers. And he kept me up. As far as my spirit, my emotions, people ask me, you know, they always have to take you through some questionnaires when you get cancer and you have to meet with a counselor. And they said, “you know, are you down? Are you struggling with depression”? I said, “actually, I’m not. I feel great”. I really feel like this is what God has for me. And so I’m not gonna push back on it. I’m just gonna embrace it. I mean, it’s not what I would’ve chosen, obviously, but if this is his plan, I’m gonna trust him. I haven’t always trusted him. I wish I would have, but I thought this time I’m going to, I just said, “God, whatever you got, if you take me out early with this, or if I make it through, just let me be a witness and use me every way you can”.
Carrie: I wanna talk about that acceptance piece because even though you’re talking about a physical struggle, this is so vivid.
To our listeners who are struggling with anxiety and OCD. And I talk to people every day who say, “I don’t want the OCD label, or even, I don’t wanna have to be dealing with anxiety because I don’t know if I’m ever gonna be able to get out of this”. This may be somewhat of a lifelong struggle that I deal with.
Sometimes these can be chronic conditions. Sometimes they can wax and wane and get better, but sometimes people have to deal with them for a long time and they have a hard time. I think, accepting you use the words, God ordained me to have cancer. And I think a lot of our listeners would have a hard time saying, like, God ordained me to struggle with OCD or God ordained me to struggle with anxiety. Can you talk a little bit about like that acceptance piece, just in terms of God’s sovereignty and will over our lives.
John: Sure. I guess with anxiety and OCD it’s somewhat similar to cancer and you don’t always work toward getting that and you may try to stay away from that, but sometimes things in your life can happen and cause that some things that are out of our control, I’m sure there’s people that grew up in situations where it cause anxiety. And they’ve had a hard time shaking that. I don’t know what caused my cancer. I was a guy who exercised, kept my weight down, tried to eat healthy, tried to get enough sleep. I mean, all the things you would want to do. And I was laughing one day and I told my wife, I said, “well, I guess I need to start eating cheeseburgers with bacon all over it and smoking and whatever else I wanna do, because it doesn’t matter. Now I got cancer”.
Anyway, I guess what it showed me was I was definitely not in control. And I know we say that, but cancer kind of really. Puts the mirror up to your face and shows you you’re not in control and no matter what you do, God still is sovereign. And he may allow somebody to have cancer that did everything they could do to be healthy.
Just like I’m sure some people that may be listening. Think why do I have to struggle with anxiety? I’m a Christian, I’m got a prayer life. I’m trying to grow with God. I’m trying to do the right things. Some of those things are just unexplainable. I think, I knew that I couldn’t do anything to change it.
I remember talking to one of my oncologists and he said, “you know, I definitely want you to eat healthy. I want you to exercise and all that, but be assured that’s not gonna beat cancer”. That’s gonna help you to endure the treatments, but that’s not gonna fix what you’ve got. Just showed me how much I was reliant on guide through this whole process. And I guess when you realize you’re out of control, it’s maybe sometimes easier to relinquish that, what you think is control? Because it, I used to think I had certain control over certain things, I guess, in my life. And cancer just kind of wakes you up to showing you how vulnerable you are.
Carrie: You talked too, about accepting your limitations while also trying to overcome some of those. Was it hard for you? I imagine in the beginning, when you had to accept maybe that you couldn’t be as active as you were before, or as social as you were before, because you had to not be around people. Talk to us a little bit about what that is like striking that balance between accepting your limitations and trying to overcome ’em.
John: That’s a work in progress process. It’s something that I still work through each day. I, for instance, I like to exercise. I’ve always been the type of person that likes to get better at things. So I want to try to get a little bit in a little bit better shape or do a little bit more exercise. Well, I’ve had to learn that there is a kind of a point of no return for me with exercise. I can do it only so many days a week. I can do it only so many minutes. Or it’s not gonna really help me to get stronger or have more endurance. It’s gonna work the other way and pull me down. Fatigue is something that I have to deal with on a pretty regular basis, because I’m still on a low dose chemo treatment to try to keep the cancer at bay.
So I take that three weeks a month. And so that causes fatigue. So I have to really balance exercise with rest and I have to do, really moderation, which is not the easiest thing for me. I like to go full steam ahead. I’ve had to realize that less is more in that situation. I do need to be exercising. It’s very important. It helps me to deal with the treatments. It helps me with everything in my battle against cancer in my life. But if I push it too much, it will reverse. And then I’ll have several days to take to recover because it wears me down so much. So accepting that has been hard for me. But as I work through it more, if it gets easier every day, the social part is difficult with COVID. I’ve had to be very protected from being in large group from, with COVID the uptick right now in Nashville, where I live having to be extra cautious with wearing a mask and just really being careful because of my immune system, my weakened immune system, even though I’ve been vaccinated, the doctors don’t know how well I would handle COVID at this point, I’m a person who likes to go to events and be around a lot of people interact with a lot of people.
I’ve had to be a lot more choosy, with what I do. And just, I’ve had to say no to just countless opportunities for things like a, a big event or a concert or a ball game or things that I would love to go to. But I just have to say “no” and go to the things that I can. So I’m much more limited than I was. But when you, for a while, after you do a stem cell transplant, you can’t be around anybody. And so when you look at that, and this may be a key too, to the whole process, When you get to that stage, you learn to praise God for the times you can get out. I focus on that. I think this is awesome. I can actually go to an early lunch and sit in a corner booth and things that I can do that I couldn’t do there for a while. I get excited about that rather than get down about. I can’t go to a concert or whatever.
Carrie: How has cancer been a blessing in your life? I think the joy piece of finding joy in the midst of your trial.
John: I tell you the joy has been overwhelming with it. That’s cancer has been a gift to me. It has helped me to see even closer the finality of my life, that I finite time on this earth. It’s made every interaction, a little more sweet, a little more important. Every friendship, every family relationship, it has helped to focus me even more on growing with the Lord, because I see that when I pass away, it’s gonna be my relationship with God. And those that I love, that’s really gonna matter. Things like career and success and money and pursuit of fame or affirmation, all those kind of things are a lot less important to me now because I see how fleeting they are at this point. And I think I’ve grown a lot wiser.
People have told me that cancer ages you about 20 years and they were talking about physically. And I think it does sometimes age you physically that much, but I think it also ages you in, or it can age you in wisdom. That much too. And not that I’ve grown 20 years in wisdom, but I’ve definitely grown some because it just really puts things in a different perspective. And I think there have been times when I’ve tried to overdo or do too many things because I wanted to hit check all the boxes and hit all the options. And it’s really helped me to dial down and prioritize. And it’s so much easier for me to say no to good opportunities now, because I’ll say, “that’d be great. I’d love that.
But you know what? I would rather do this, or this is more important than the other”. And it really has been a blessing in that way too, to prioritize life more. And when you have limited energy and you have limited possibly time on earth and all those kind of things. It really dials it down so that you prioritize. And I think in so many ways, it’s such a blessing that I got cancer because I could have gotten killed in a car wreck, driving home from work three years ago, if that had happened. And that was God’s will, then that would’ve been what was best. But if that had happened, I would not have had the opportunity to work through learning these priorities and having this time to realize that my life may every away quicker than I wanted it. But I’ve got time to make some adjustments, which to me is a great gift.
Carrie: I’m curious, was there anybody, like in your reflection about your life, was there anybody that you really recognize? I need to forgive this person or I need to seek forgiveness from this person.
John: I have tried to always stay on top of forgiveness cause I knew that could make me better and all I’ll tell you what it has really accentuated is to, let go of any conflict or things that were trivial that may have caused some challenges. I have a blended family, so I have some interactions with some family members that I think, it wasn’t everything I wish it had been. There was some, I guess friction is probably the best way to describe it there. And I think I have embraced them more than I did. And I’ve just realized. Those differences don’t really matter. And I’ve been able to, reach out and love them more because God has given me that strength to do that and maybe judge them less and love them more and to let any friction in the past go.
So it is for forgiveness in that way, just forgiving on a regular basis and seeing that, I guess this acceptance too, is seeing that everybody that’s in your life. Is there for a reason, even if they, you have some challenges with them, if you have some challenges with family members or friends or people at church they’re in your life for a reason that too, I think is part of submission to God’s sovereignty and saying, “I don’t really understand why these challenges are here or why”. It’s so difficult sometimes to deal with that person, but there’s something you’re teaching me or there’s something you’ve got for me to be some way a blessing to these people. And so I’m gonna embrace that. And I tell you this, embracing this kind of, it gives you such a positive force to go forward with. Whereas resistance can really eat your energy up. And when you have limited energy, it does train you to say let’s don’t cause a lot of extra resistance to see how much we can embrace this. So we can go further with energy that we do have. I think that’s been a real growth point for me.
Carrie: That resistance is something that I see a lot for people in therapy that are dealing, they’re trying to resist. What’s actually going on instead of grieving it. I think sometimes we have to grieve losses of whether it’s losses of time or opportunities or things that we’re not able to do anymore that we used to be able to, but then getting to that place of acceptance of, okay, God, this is where I’m at right now. This is what I’m dealing with in this season. And so how can you use me? How do you wanna use me in this season of my life? Talk with us about your prayer life.
John: Okay. That has been probably the best thing of this whole process. I always wanna have a better and better prayer life. I wanted to spend more time with God every morning before I started my day.
And I would do that to some extent before, but now it is set in stone and it’s nothing happens for me before I spend my time with God. He is, I really believe in that Matthew 6: 33 seek ye first, the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you. So I made a commitment. That I’m gonna get up every morning. And before I do anything else before I speak to anybody or do anything, I’m gonna go and spend a good bit of time and prayer with the Lord. And just in his word that has helped me, has steadied me through this whole process. And what has grown out of this is a I really fairly early on, I moved from a point of praying and asking God to help me with this struggle.
To where he gave me a passion to start praying for other people that were struggling, whether it was with a terminal illness or it was with a health issue or a loss of job or whatever the challenge may be. And I feel like he’s developed me into somewhat of a prayer warrior for other people. And I love to find out about people’s struggles in my church or in my sphere of influence so that I can pray for them specifically on a very regular basis and keep up with them and encourage them. And I’ve certainly become just a magnet drawn to people that are diagnosed with cancer for obvious reasons. Because I know a lot of what they’re dealing with and I wanna pray for them on a regular basis, pray for their health, pray for their walk with the Lord, or if they don’t know God that they would come to know him and also be an encourager.
I try to call and check up on them on a regular basis. You know, I know they’re having a test coming up or they’re having chemo for three weeks or whatever. I’ll put that on my calendar and then I’ll follow up with them and just check on ’em because I know how important that is and how much that means. Having gone through it. God’s given me a ministry that I never had before. And I, I don’t know anybody that’s listening that probably would wanna say, “gosh, I wanna go sign up for a cancer ministry. I wanna get cancer so I can help other people with it”. But when you’re chosen, you roll with it. And I do believe that God knows what’s best.
I know. It’s really ironic, but I’ve got more joy in my life right now than I have ever had in my life. And I attribute so much of that to what God has done through giving me cancer. And my cancer is very up in the air. It’s still considered a terminal cancer. There’s not a quote cure for it at this point, but there’s a lot of good treatments. And I might have a few years left or I might live to be 85. They don’t really know. It normally comes back in about 80 to 90% of the cases. So there’s a really high chance that I’ll have to fight it again and again, and that eventually it’ll probably take me out. We don’t know when that is. So I think in a way maybe God gave me that type of cancer so that I don’t think, well I’m curative cancer. And I can just forget all these things that I’ve learned.
I think he knows that I need probably that encouragement. And that accountability of knowing that this battle is far from over so that I can continue to keep my focus on him. And I think he allows certain things to happen in our lives, because he knows that we need it. I mean, I didn’t have the discipline to spend the time in prayer with him that I spend now. I didn’t have the focus I needed. And I think really cancer may have been the only way he could get me there. And I’m still growing up. I’m not there yet, but he knows what we specifically need. So I would encourage people if you’ve got a struggle, try to embrace that. And again, not make excuses for it. You still try to overcome it as best you can, but you also realize you’re limitations as a human being and you embrace that. Maybe God could use my anxiety because there is a ton of people out there struggling with that.
John: So if I can be real about it, maybe that helps somebody else. And that’s kind of what cancer has been for me. And a lot of people have said, “is it okay if I ask you about your cancer or is it okay if I tell so”? And so I’m like, “yes, I’m not, I don’t have the least bit of hesitation about it”. I, for some reason, this is a ministry God’s call me to, so, I don’t want to cover it up. I want to allow him use it any way he wants to.
Carrie: That’s awesome. I mean, I think that’s really great. I would imagine that many people in your situation might feel very anxious when you go back and have scans or tests or things done, just knowing that that’s kind of looming in the background and could come back. Is that just something that you’ve. Another piece of the acceptance for you.
John: Probably with any type of cancer and in particular with the cancer, I have you kind of do you have to look over your shoulder on a regular basis cause you know, it might be coming back and I have to get blood work every single month to see am I still clear and clean there? And so it’s always a celebration when I get that, but you just can’t focus too much on that either. And I, one thing I decided was cancer. Although this is a ministry God’s given me. It’s only a part of my life. There’s a lot of other parts and I refuse to let cancer be who John Bennett is. God’s put that in my life, but so many other, I’m a father, I’m a husband. I’m Christian, I’m a banker. I got hobbies. So many things that I’ve. That are part of me. I think when you have cancer or if you’ve got anxiety or whatever it is that you’re working with, and you’re challenged with, you gotta be careful not to let that become everything to. You know that it’s a part of life.
I don’t sit around and talk about cancer all the time. I don’t bring that up in conversations with people if they know about it, or if I can share an encouragement, encouraging word, because of that, I’ll do it. But there’s a lot of people that know me that don’t even know I have cancer because it’s not everything.
It’s a part of me. And it comes out when it needs to, but I’m more than just a sick person with cancer. And thank God. My health is good right now. I think you have to be careful there. You have to realize that yes, it can. Cancer can come back and take you out pretty quickly. But at the same time, you don’t wanna focus on that or you don’t really have a life, focus so much on your limitations. Then the time that you do have, will be wasted instead of used for the glory of God and for blessing other people.
Carrie: I think that’s so huge just in terms of not identifying solely with your diagnosis, but really identifying yourself as a whole person and spiritually as a child of God, that is, should be our main identity.
That’s huge too.
John: Right. And it is all relative too. I mean, when you look at the age you are, or whatever happens to you. I’ve had a couple of friends, one that got killed in his twenties. And so if I die early of cancer, compared to my friend, I’ve had a really long life, I think too, it’s learning to praise God for your blessings. And I remember going to in, when I first started getting chemo and I had really prayed a lot about this, and I was talking to one of the nurses and I said, “I’m gonna be the most excited cancer patient you’ve ever had”. I said, “I’m coming in here and I’m glad to get this chemo. And I appreciate you guys doing this”. And she said, “Okay, you gotta be joking”. I said, “actually, I’m really not”. I said, “you’re helping to kill my cancer. And so I’m excited about that”. And she said, “well, you’re the first person that’s ever thanked me for giving chemo”. And I said, “well, I’m gonna enjoy this process”. And I said, “that may sound stupid or crazy, but I am not gonna come in here with my head down”. Gosh, I’ve gotta get chemo again. I’m worried about, gosh, what’s gonna happen to me. I wanna come in here and live. And I’m gonna have fun and I’m gonna enjoy it and I’m gonna make the most of it. And not that it’s all pleasant, cause going through some of those things I can tell you, there was a lot of pain.
I got cut on so many times. It’s not funny. I’ve got so many drugs that have gone into my body to try to kill this cancer. It’s overwhelming. I don’t mean to make light of it. But, I was determined. I was gonna find the good in it and praise God for it. And I’ll tell you, that’s made a huge difference. And I was just, I’d seen other cancer patients in particular that got so down and they were discouraging it themselves and everybody else. And I thought, I’m not doing that by the grace of God. I’m not gonna do that. I’m gonna come in here and I’m gonna make the most of this. And whether my time is long or short, I wanna live it to the fullest.
I think that’s what God wants us to do. And we all have struggles. I remember when my Sunday school class or some people call it life group, when they first found out, I told ’em about the cancer diagnosis and it was pretty grim in there. And people were really upset and they prayed for me as a group, which was awesome. And I said, “well, let me just say this”. I said, “everybody in here has got struggles. Some of you have a wayward child. Some of you are having struggles in your marriage. Some of you just lost a job. Some of you got financial difficulties, some of you have other health issues. Some of you are depressed. I’m not the only one in here that has a challenge. So don’t worry about me and don’t focus just on me”. That’s all realize that we’ve all got these things that are challenging. And my cancer is not any more important than your problem in your marriage.
Whatever it is that you’re challenged with.
I don’t wanna be singled out and people to feel sorry for me either. Cause I mean, some other struggles that people have are a lot worse than what I have. I think it’s important too, with whatever you’re dealing with to not get on the pity party and not think that, gosh, I’ve just got it so hard. I mean, I think I’m so blessed honestly. And I think we all have to just really focus on that. That to me, that seems, like the antidote for depression is praising God. And thanking God for what you do have. And if you look hard enough, you can find a lot of blessings. I don’t care what’s going on in your life. I have certainly seen that. Just what I’ve been through in the last three and a half years.
Carrie: Absolutely. There’s a verse in James about every good and perfect gift is from the father. And that helped me so much through my divorce that it, it caused me really to look at the good things that were in my life and recognize that they were there, cause God put ’em there. And that like you were saying, I could be thankful. And that helped me through that process become a more thankful person, I think, instead of just focusing on the negative and the hurt and the pain that I was going through at that time, that helped a lot. But if you could go back in time, what would you tell your younger self who was just getting diagnosed? Which I guess you do this, because you talk to people who have just been diagnosed with cancer. What do you tell them?
John: Real good question. The number one thing is focus on your relationship with God. Trust him and move toward, trusting him more and find out how does he want to use this in your life and ask him for the strength every day to go through?
Because he certainly gave me that cancer is not easy and there’s some suffering that goes on and there is. I guess some uncertainty for sure about what your life’s gonna look like and how long it’s gonna last, what all are you gonna have to go through and all of that kind of things, but really it’s just, it’s putting your focus on Christ. I think that is the key. If somebody’s not a Christian, that’s my first suggestion to them is that they seriously consider a relationship with Jesus Christ. If they are that work to grow closer with him and spend more time with him. Let him use this process. And I guess be flexible. We were talking about, being willing to embrace what he’s brought.
I remember when I, after I had my stem cell transplant, it was a time where, as somebody told me before I had this, they said, “you’re gonna get what we call death bed sick”. And I understand what that means now because they take your immune system, literally down to zero for a few days. It’s very difficult. When I went through that, I was actually nauseous 24 hours a day for 30 days in a row. And I didn’t want anything to eat. Anytime. Every time we had meal time, I just hated it. I didn’t want anybody to bring anything in, but obviously I had to get food to continue to live through this. The funny thing in, in the hospital, I got to where the one thing I could eat was peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. And that was the only thing I could eat that I even halfway enjoyed. And so they laughed because they would just fix me a peanut butter jelly sandwich for every meal.
Once I was in there for a while, because the other stuff was just so disgusting to me. And not that peanut butter jelly was amazing, but I could eat it. And I could said halfway enjoy it. And I guess that maybe goes back to, as a kid, I love peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
So, I ate those and went through that process. But when I got through all the treatment, I was in the treatment room as we called it or treatment lab for my last time with the stem cell transplant. And then I would be moved out of that and go back to my reg oncologist. I remember looking back and I looked at the people that were laying there on the beds, that where I had been a lot of them, where I was, where I was down to nothing almost as far as strength and energy and, and immune system and, and everything.
I remember, it just felt like God was telling me. Don’t you ever forget where you were and don’t ever forget to praise me and don’t ever forget what I took you through and how I want to use you to encourage other people. Because now that you’ve come through that, remember how low you were. I mean, physically I was as low as you can get without dying. I remember just getting up to go to the bathroom in my hospital room, which was obviously right there beside the bed. It was exhausting. I mean, I was literally exhausted after I got up and walked to the bathroom, which was like, I don’t know, four or five steps going through that. I just felt like God was turn around and look one more time and look at those people and don’t ever forget it, whatever challenges I may have in life.
If I look back at that, everything looks pretty good. And I think if you can look back at what God has brought you through and not forget about that, it helps you to see. How blessed you are now, even with the challenges that you may have, how much better off you are and how good he has been to you. And you know, at that point, when I was walking through all that, I never knew I would get to the point I’m at now where, I mean, I’m feeling great. I just have to deal with fatigue. I’ve been able by the grace of God, I’ve been able to continue to work full time, which a lot of people have not been able to do that with this cancer. I’ve just been really, really blessed, but I look back and I know what it’s like though, to be knocked all the way down on the ground, where you are laid out flat.
I think looking back at those times and realizing that God was with me every single day that I was going through that there was a time when I really wondered, am I ever gonna get to where I can eat food again? I mean, after 20 something days of being nauseous, you know, I didn’t know that it was gonna end after 30 days, but I really thought, I don’t know if this is ever gonna change. And the doctors couldn’t tell me when or what was gonna happen. Cause I took an enormous amount of chemo to go through the stem cell transplant. And it just really upended my whole body.
That was one of those things where I didn’t know how it was gonna turn out or if it was gonna turn in a good way anytime soon.
But through that though, I see that God was there every day. I can look back at people that prayed for me. I can look back at people that encourage me. I can look back at things that I read, just so many things. Every day he gave me just what I needed to get through that day. He’s been so incredibly faithful. And I guess those 30 days were times when he carried me as the footprints and the sandpoint talks about. I can look back and see that. He carried me through that, cause I had absolutely nothing to give at that point yet he brought me through that. So he can do that for everybody else’s listening today.
Carrie: This has really been a great interview and I think so, relevant to people and encouraging, not just for people with cancer, but people who are going through any struggle really in their life right now. Thank you for sharing your story.
John: Thank you. What’s been an honor. And I hope that something, I said, blesses somebody and encourages somebody because I definitely know if you have God in your life, there is no reason to give up.
He is too strong and he’s too powerful. He’s too faithful. And he loves us too much. Whatever is knocked somebody down. Our God is a resurrecting God. He can resurrect the dead. He can sure resurrect our lives. And he’s done that with me, with my cancer. And he can do that for somebody emotionally or physically or whatever they’re going through. I just give him all the glory because he deserves it. And it’s been a real honor to be on the program.
Carrie: As I was coming back from maternity leave, I really needed to get some interviews done. And one day, Steve and I were just kind of going back and forth about different episode topics and things. And he said, “well, you know, you should interview John”. I’m really glad that he made that recommendation because I love how this interview turned out. If you ever want to support our show, you can do so. By going to Patreon, we’re also on by me a coffee for one time donations as always, you can find us anytime on Hope for Anxiety and OCD.com. Thank you so much for listening.
Hope for Anxiety and OCD is a production of By the Well Counseling. Our show is hosted by me, Carrie Bock, licensed professional counselor in Tennessee, opinions given by our guests are their own and do not necessarily reflect the use of myself or By the Well Counseling. Our original music is by Brandon Mangrum until next time may you be comforted by God’s great love for you.