When Gary first found out he had cancer, he knew he had a battle ahead. Gary has been a chaplain with Prison Fellowship for four years, and was recently diagnosed with a very rare form of liver cancer. “No one has been known to survive it,” he tells me, “it’s very rare.”
“On 22nd December, 2018, I had a scan that showed a cancerous growth on my liver as big as my fist!” he says. “Christmas day passed, then on the 28th December I had it operated on. They removed all the cancer plus 40% of my liver!”
Gary then had two scans – one a month after the operation, the next two months after that. Doctors were optimistic as nothing showed on the scans, but ordered an MRI to confirm.
Gary’s world shattered a little when they found the cancer had returned. This time on a major vein. Gary’s condition was now inoperable, terminal, and he was delivered a new diagnosis: three months to live.
“The only thing the oncologist could offer me was palliative chemotherapy,” Gary says grimly. “It would only prolong my life for a short time, so I refused.”
Determined, Gary did extensive research. He found a doctor in Melbourne who had done a trial with a new type of therapy called immunotherapy with good results against some forms of cancer. This new therapy occurred every three weeks, and the cancerous growth reduced in size from 66mm to 31mm.
“I was trusting in God and knowing he would provide,” Gary says. “He gave me the Scripture of Psalm 118:17, which says,
I will not die but live,
and will proclaim what the Lord has done.”
Gary’s voice softened as he recited this verse.
“The last time I was visiting the prison, I told the guys I wasn’t going to see them for a while. All of a sudden, the CD player started up on its own! The first song that played sang the words, ‘I’m an overcomer; I’ve been set free; Jesus Christ is Lord who lives in me.’
“The guys were freaked out!” Gary laughs, but he took comfort in these words which curiously played without prompting.
Gary faithfully began another new therapy. The first MRI showed exceptional results: the 31mm growth was now a mere fourteen. The next MRI after that, the growth had entirely disappeared. Miraculously, the next two scans have given Gary a clean bill of health.
I ask Gary how the experience has changed his faith.
“Being told I was terminal revolutionised my prayer life,” he says. “Now I keep a prayer journal, and everything that gets an answer, I give it a tick. It helps my faith as I see all these ticks!!”
Gary is excited to get back visiting prison as soon as he can. I hear the excitement in his voice to see ‘the guys’ again, and can only imagine their delight seeing his face again.
– Joanna Mann, Staff Writer
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