As soon as I finished my milk and oatmeal, I went to shower. I was excited to go to church to hear my inspirational pastor, Andy McQuitty, speak. He was -- 39 days ago today, diagnosed with colon cancer. The amazing man still has the ability to touch and reach tens of thousands if not millions of people worldwide -- even when he is at probably his "weakest" point as a human. Here is his latest update from 8/19/09.
My Dear Friends,
So the IBC staff gets me this pager and puts the number out on the website and in weekend services for people to call when they pray for me. It vibrates violently each time someone dials in. I got home from a short vacation last Friday and found it waiting for me, sitting impatiently on the hope chest in our living room, buzzing like a banshee. It buzzed through supper, through the evening news, through an old rerun of Harry Potter, through The Tonight Show, and on into the night. At 2:30 A.M., it was still buzzing on the desk in my study next door keeping me awake. How insensitive of people to be praying for me at such an ungodly hour!
Of course, I jest (on that last point only—the rest is amazingly true). I’ve had that pager on my person now for five days. Around the clock, it never stops buzzing. I’ve found that I can get a passably good massage by holding it at various angles to my neck and shoulders. Sometimes multiple people call simultaneously, producing extra long buzzes. I like that. It’s better than the spa. Who needs a masseuse when instead you can have God’s people interceding for you?
My doctors wonder why I’m doing so well after major surgery just over three weeks ago. Guess I should tell them about the pager, eh?
All of that to say how grateful I am to you all for your heartfelt prayers, your encouragement through notes and letters and cards and small remembrances which have so powerfully encouraged me and my family in these days. The Lord knows I never actually volunteered to get cancer, but if this is what it took to afford me a personal glimpse into the incredible generous hearts of God’s praying people, then I’m grateful even for the disease. Through it, God is showing by you all the true depth of His loving and noble heart in ways I could have previously only imagined. (How else to explain the sudden appearance of a dozen new Titleist ProVI’s just when I needed them. . . ?)
I’d like to be so bold as to request your continued intercession for me, especially over the next two to three months. That’s a bold ask because consistent prayer over many weeks is way tougher to pull off than a crisis shout-out to God. (I know this from personal experience!). You may have to actually write stuff down to remind yourself, pray daily, and persevere through long seasons of no-news and sometimes bad news. But it’s all good, because whatever causes us to pray regularly also draws us nearer to the Father, and I’d like to bless you in that way!
Here’s why I’m counting on your prayers. I’ve got a pretty bad cancer and the next two to three months are crucial in determining how much longer I’m going to have to deal with traffic jams, high income taxes and smarmy politicians on this planet. Oncologists rank the seriousness of the disease in stages, one being least serious and four being barely hanging on. Stage three has three subdivisions: bad, worse, and almost stage four. Various scans and pathology reports coming out of the last surgery indicate that I now occupy that third subdivision of stage three. The good news is that those evil little cells have not congregated in any major organs. The bad news is they have spread to a lymph node near to my kidney where they’re sassing the doctors and sticking their insolent little tongues out at us every time we snap their picture.
Here’s how we’re going to attack the little devils. (Can I call cancer cells devils? I just did. Actually, I originally used a stronger word which Alice made me take out). I start six months of chemotherapy next Wednesday August 26. Two or three months in, we’ll take another picture to see if the cancer in that lymph node is dead. If not, another major surgery—we yank the sucker out of there and then continue chemo. If so—and this is the option we all pray for, OK?—we just finish the chemo, test to see that all the other cancer is dead, and I live on to teach my grandchildren how to hit high draws and low hooks off the fairway. So just to reiterate: we’re praying that the High Lord God of the Universe might deign to use the tool of chemo to zap those cancer bast. . . I mean devils. . . right out of this pastor’s whole body over the next six months starting next Wednesday. Got it? Good! (and thanks!)
I guess while I’m at it, I may as well ask you also to pray me through the chemo. As so many of you out there who have endured this drudgery can surely attest, it actually has the makings of a very interesting time for relationships in my life. The top three side effects they’ve warned me about are extreme fatigue, nausea, and diarrhea. I am hoping to be able to work at IBC somewhat normally through these months, but I hope you’ll understand if, during that time when I’m in conversation with you, I suddenly fall asleep, blow groceries, or dash off to the Men’s room. It’s nothing personal. Really. Another weird side effect is neuropathy (numbness or pain in mouth, throat, fingers) if I drink or handle anything cold while on chemo. So I can only drink warm Guinness and have no ice in my tea and I have to wear gloves if I take anything out of the fridge. I am not making this up! But hey, they tell me I can keep my hair, so all is not lost (literally)!
You know what I’m most excited about right now? I get to be back on the platform this Sunday at IBC. I’ve so missed our amazing IBC community, and I’m so glad that I can see many of you who are IBC’ers in this little window between surgery and chemo. Let’s have a party!
Love to you all,
Pastor Andy (a.k.a., “Semi-C”)
P.S. Today is Alice and my 31st wedding anniversary. If you see her, you might offer congratulations for having put up with this old Irish curmudgeon for all that time. All I know is I’m the fortunate one for having this beautiful one with whom to make the journey. . .
Like I said, the man has a way with words. I'm so moved to just be a part of his congregation. This Sunday, also, was like none other than I'd ever experienced. It was focused on prayer. They had someone come out that works with the worldwide missions that our church embarks on... one that he is personally involved in is how our church body raises money for the people in Sudan to put in wells for fresh water. Another came forward to lead the congregation through a series of prayers for the children... not only in our own families but also the children that we have a chance to impact on a daily basis... and those that are within our church walls...and those within the impact of the church and it's ministries...and the teachers and leaders in the schools that have such a gift... to give them strength and guidance...
then Pastor McQuitty came on... and the first thing he did was welcome us all there and personally talk about the "elephant in the room" (his diagnosis). He talked about how when you're given a new clarity in life, that the things you seem to do everyday -- when you know your days are possibly numbered -- they seem so unimportant. So, if those are unimportant, just what DO you do "now"? So he gave a verse, and I can't find the piece of paper I wrote it down on... (the boys had it in the back seat drawing on it...) but it was, in essence, how you aren't supposed to worry about anything... but focusing on God's kingdom and righteousness. Everything else that is supposed to fall into play will... so just keep fighting the good fight for Him. And when you think of doing THAT... everything else DOES seem mundane, doesn't it? I dont think there was a dry eye in the place. To hear a man, possibly living on borrowed time, with such a gift to touch and impact. My heart cries for the what if's... because he is so very much a part of that church and why I love it so much... I just pray for a miracle. I hope you will continue to pray for him too. :)
If you would like to pray for my pastor, and let him know that you are praying for him... please call his pager number. 972-229-3878 He set the pager on his ... holy cow, the word totally escapes me... where he puts his bible and water bottle and such on the stage... and the thing went off the entire time. It was so moving to know he was being prayed for right then and there... and he did that to show us that we are blessed at that moment too by the power of the prayers of strangers.
I left a few minutes early and headed straight for the airport to pick up my handsome man. His flight was right on time and I scooped him up and we headed home. I scooped up the other two and we headed to my favorite place -- Souper Salad! I love salad bars! :) LOVE LOVE LOVE them! :)
We drove by and picked up one of Josh's best friends so that he could see him before school starts tomorrow and then we took him home. I swung by Sonic for a Route 44 unsweetened peach tea -- one of my favorite things! :) We came home and just hung out as a family. It was great.
However since this is our "week" before school, the early to bed routines start TONIGHT for us. :) The boys were in bed at 8:45 (15 minutes later than they're supposed to be) but tomorrow we'll be getting up early and going through our routines... and I start back to my exercise program tomorrow. 2.5 miles of walking -daily or at least every other day - couldn't jog if I wanted to because of my right foot -- it's bothering me again! Grrrr...getting old SUCKS!
So, my only task right now is to go through the sales at the grocery store and plan our weekly menu. I'll post my "menu plan monday" tomorrow and oh yeah, I start back to school TOMORROW TOO! YIKES! :) Wish me luck. lots of changes in store at our house... some bigger than others but I think the next two weeks hold enough to keep me occupied for a while!
Oh, and the countdown to Disney has officially begun -- we leave in 26 days!!! I'm very excited and it's going to be our best trip yet! :)