Young Adults with Cancer Website

Lessons Learned from my Battle with Cancer (The Brief Version)

By Mark Williams

It was February 2003. I hadn’t been feeling well, and things were getting worse by the day. I had lost a lot of weight; I was so achy that I was in tremendous pain and I took Advil all day like it was candy. I was also very fatigued and had severe night sweats and chills. On March 18 – my daughter’s 10th birthday – I heard the worst news of my life. I had lymphoma – a cancer of the immune system. It had gone undetected for a long time and had spread throughout my lymphatic/immune system. I will never forget the feeling of hopelessness I felt on that beautiful, sunny day.

In the months that followed, I was constantly reminded of my frailty and mortality. I had been a young, healthy person all of my life. Now, I was a shell of my former self. It was disheartening how much effort it would take just to get up the stairs. I would lie in bed alone, listening to my children play downstairs, desperately wanting to be with them, to pick them up, wrestle with them, to hug and kiss them, but I couldn’t muster the energy. It was devastating and surreal.

If you have been through a life-threatening situation, you can certainly relate to the whole “life flashing before your eyes” thing. If you haven’t, it probably isn’t too hard for you to imagine or conjure up the feelings you might have if your world came crashing down on you. We go through life hoping that the bad things going on around us will keep their distance. But suffering is an inevitable part of everyone’s life. It is a matter of WHEN, not if.

As is often the case with people who have been chronically ill, I had a lot of time to think – to philosophize, if you will. I did a lot of soul searching. I faced the situation head on, with no delusions that I was definitely going to live through it; the doctor gave me 50/50 odds, which is pretty good for cancer. I didn’t expect to have to face my own mortality at age 32. What may surprise you is that I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything. The lessons learned and the perspectives I now have on life are priceless. I am currently in remission and my life is back to “normal”, although life will never really be normal again for me. I will never be the same.

The conclusions I have come to as a result of literally hundreds of hours of study and soul searching can in their most basic form be distilled into a few brief paragraphs. My goal was to find the truth. I have no use for believing anything that isn’t true just to make myself feel better. That is worthless in death. We all die alone. When life is over, it’s just us and God. And, what He thinks of us is all that matters at that point.

It was obvious to me even before I got cancer that something is desperately wrong with this world and with so many of the people in it. There is evil in the world, and something is severely broken.

How do we make sense of this world and all of the suffering, both at the hands of men and through the natural law of decay that each of us is subject to? Over the years, I have studied many of the world’s religions - in a college classroom setting, as well as extensive research and study on my own. However, since my cancer diagnosis, I’ve spent countless hours seeking to understand God and my relationship to Him with a high degree of intensity –as if my life depended on it.

I have come to the conclusion that the Bible is unique among all books due to its insight into human nature and the nature of the world we live in, it’s archeologically proven historical accuracy, and its many specific prophecies - written hundreds of years before the actual events occurred. I could talk for hours about the specifics of these claims and would be happy to do so with you if that would be helpful.

Believe it or not, the Bible actually provides the explanation for why the world is filled with such contradictions as beauty and suffering. I will explain…but first, think about the following questions. Your objective answers will help in the explanation:

 Do you consider yourself to be a good person? Most people answer this question “Yes”. Let me ask you a few questions to see of you are in fact a good person…

Do you keep the 10 Commandments, which are the showcase of God’s moral law? Let’s look at a couple of them and see…

     - Have you ever told a lie?
     - Have you ever stolen anything, no matter how small?
     - Have you ever committed adultery? Jesus said that whoever looks upon another person with lust has committed adultery with them in their heart.
     - Have you used God’s name in vain – flippantly, or as a curse word?

These are just 4 of the 10 commandments. If you are like me, you have violated most if not every single one of these listed above, and probably most of the remaining commandments as well. At this point, most people think something like: “Yeah, I’ve broken God’s law. But so has everyone else. God is good. He will forgive me and let me into heaven anyway.” Imagine that you were before a judge having been found guilty of a crime, any crime. Would you say to the judge, “I know that I am guilty of this crime, but you are a good man. So, let’s just forget that this crime ever happened. I won’t do it again.” A good judge would find that line of reasoning absurd. And, according to the Bible, THE Good Judge is no different.

Let’s look at this from another angle. The average person doesn’t care a thing about God. They regularly lie, consider themselves as more important than their neighbor, use God’s Holy Name as a cuss word, and don’t give a second thought about living their lives in a way that is pleasing to God. Do you think that the Eternal, All-Powerful God that created all of this amazing earth will shrug that off as if it never happened?

No. The Bible says “…man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.”  (Hebrews 9:27-28)

Also, did you know that the Bible says that all of us 1) are hostile to God, 2) are unwilling to submit to His law, and 3) cannot please God? (See Romans 8:7) The suffering and evil we must endure in this life is PROOF that something is radically wrong with our relationship with our Creator.

So, if God were to use the 10 commandments as the standard on Judgment Day, would you be found guilty or innocent? God is a God of love. But, love has no place in a courtroom. It’s all about finding guilt or innocence. And, the Bible says that all of us are guilty of breaking God’s law.

If you now realize that you are guilty before God, what should your proper response be, fear? Yes, fear. The Bible says that “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.” (Proverbs 9:10) And, listen to what Jesus said: “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28)

So, where DOES love enter the picture? God loves us, but He also loves justice. Here is the good news. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.” (1 John 3:16)

God loves us so much, that He sent His Son to die an excruciating death to pay the penalty that we deserve. Imagine being found guilty of a crime and the judge says “The punishment is a $5 million fine, or 50 years in jail”. But, you don’t have $5 million. So you are looking at doing the time when someone walks into the courtroom and offers to pay the fine for you! You are free to go! How do you feel about the person who paid the fine for you? One word comes to mind…gratitude.

What Jesus did for you is so much higher than my illustration above. He gave His very life for you. He is offering you a complete pardon in God’s courtroom. He offers eternal life to you as a free gift. But in a paradox that is hard to explain, this gift, while free, will cost you everything. All that you have to do is believe. But, true belief in the real Jesus will result in a changed life. True belief means not only making Jesus the Savior of your soul, but also the Master of your life. In fact, Jesus says “You must be born again.” (John 3:7) In other words, saving faith in Jesus will result in a transformation. Over time, you will care less about what you want and more about what He wants. And this new attitude will be accompanied by actions that reflect your new desires.

So, if you want to be forgiven and become a follower of Jesus, ask Jesus to be the Savior and Master of your soul. It’s a package deal. Don’t just ask Him for the “fire insurance” and go on living the same way you always have. This is worthless, and such a prayer WILL NOT save your soul. Rather, honestly confess your sins to God. Be specific. (Obviously, you can’t confess them all. None of us has the time or even a memory good enough to remember the thousands of sins we have committed.) But take some time to mourn your disobedience to God. Speak to Him from the heart and express your desire to repent (turn away) from your sins. Next, acknowledge that there is nothing you can do to earn your way to heaven, but you accept Jesus blood as the sacrifice to pay the penalty for your sins. Invite Him into your life as Savior and Master.

If you have made a decision to follow Christ, take it seriously. Find a good, Bible-believing church, attend regularly, and serve in ministry. . There are a lot of people out there that claim to be speaking for God, but are really just out for themselves, so always verify what a pastor says by reading and studying the Bible daily for yourself. Please use the contact form on the website if you have any questions; I would be happy to help in any way possible.

About Me:

My name is Mark Williams and I am a cancer survivor currently in remission by the grace of God. I am passionate about helping and encouraging others who are fighting cancer. I actively help them think through all of the issues they face upon hearing such shocking and devastating news and offer prayer support. Sometimes people also just need someone to listen. This is a personal ministry of mine that I provide as time permits without cost and from a Christian point of view. If you would like to reach me, please use the contact form on this website

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