My name is Matthew
and I helped create this site! Much of this is from the "About Us" section, expanded in greater detail. I am about 33 years old and I have a beautiful wife of almost 10 years with two little boys. We currently reside in Southern Oregon. I just graduated SOU with a Computer Science Degree. I have built two other fully functional membership based sites; this is my third site and first ministry.
What your about to read is what I consider my testimony. It is personal (what testimony isn't?), but shows the glory of God in our lives, even when its the darkest. Its full of up and downs, sadness and great victory. If your currently in a dark place, need encouragement or proof of the grace of God, please read on!
After graduating high school in 1997, I finally took the advice of Billy (my pastor) and went to Trout Creek Bible Camp for the summer as a counselor. It is one of the best things that ever happened to me and the best summer I had ever had! This is also where I met my wife Jennifer. After camp I joined the Navy and faithfully served this great nation for eight years.
Fast forward a couple years, I just turned 27, it’s November 2005. I was still in the Navy finishing up my last tour of duty in San Diego, teaching UHF Satellite communications to new recruits. I was to get out in April, and I was scared to death. They say people become institutionalized in the military, and I can believe it. I did not know what I was going to do. I was so used to the military system, that civilian life un-nerved me.
I was discharged honorably in 2006 and found a job in Roseville California. I was more stubborn than ever and committed to finally earn a living outside the military on my own for my family. I was going to work as a technician in a silicon chip plant. This was far from my dream job. But the idea of getting out, earning money on my own to support my family was what drove me. The idea of not having to depend on the military anymore, but on the work of my two hands was something I was proud of, which was almost becoming an obsession for me.
Personally inside I was a mess. I had a beautiful wife and child, and I was finally free from the militar. But something('s) was wrong. I was playing a game called, "World of Warcraft", which I'm not proud of, but used as an escape. This new job I had gotten was a total dead end, as some of my fellow workers kept telling me. We made just enough to barley survive each month. I had fallen into a rut, depressed with my job, with my place in life and addicted to a game. My wife and I were still going to church, but were not involved, it turned into a religious event, which was my fault completely. But I was not far enough from the Lord to know my own plight. It got to the point where I fell on my knees one night and cried out to the Lord to be free from this bond, that he would do something drastic in my life, because I knew it would have to be drastic for a change to happen. One week later I found the lump.
The lump was very small, and did not hurt. But it gnawed at me. Could it be? Noooo, it couldn’t, I didn’t even want to think about it. I was in denial, big time.
The Day My World Flipped Upside Down.
After about a month at this new job, we went in to be seen. The Doctor at first dismissed it as simple cyst, but I feared otherwise. We pushed him harder and he decided to give me a blood test to check my AFP and other tumor markers just in case.
I still remember that day, the heat of the parking lot, the smell of his office and the look in his eyes. When he said the word Cancer
, the world came to a standstill. CANCER?!?! What a scary scary word. The room grew very quiet. Cancer? How, WHY! I was only 27 years old, who gets cancer at 27!! We ate right, tried to eat organic when we could. I just came out the military in the BEST shape of my life, and Cancer!?!?!?
Almost at the exact same time we found out that Jen (my wife) was pregnant with our second child. Times were very bitter sweet indeed.
We started researching Testicular Cancer as soon as we got home. Survival rates, cures, everything. The more we researched the more scared we got. But all we knew at the time was I had cancer, but not how bad it was. A lot of Testicular Cancer is harmless (strange I know), and they usually just keep an eye on it. We felt a little better after learning that, and hoped for that outcome.
1 week later we had an appointment with a Urologist. They wanted to do surgery on me the next day! So fast, and we were not expecting it. It gave us almost no time to think. They were telling us that it was standard and that they had to get the cancer out NOW. So we consented, and the next day I had the surgery. My AFP levels before the surgery were at about 700.
Another week later we had my tumor markers checked again, and they almost doubled to 1,500. WHAT!?! How is that possible, I just had the cancer removed? I also had a Cat Scan done. The results floored us. The cancer had spread into my lymph system with tumors all over. A large tumor about the size of a base ball had formed around my left kidney. The cancer was already very well advanced. They referred us to a specialist.
Desperation: Trying Everything, Gerson, Hallelujah Diets, …
It was getting harder and harder for me to stand up straight; I had a horrible pain in my left side that was getting worse every day. My wife started to have panic attacks, where she would start shaking at night. That really scared me because she was pregnant. I think I was more scared about my two boys growing up without a father and Jenny having to bear all that responsibility by herself. My bitterness grew.
So being put into a situation like that, with death knocking at the door you start taking all treatments into consideration. The doctors told me that my cancer was very aggressive and that if I acted now I would have about a 50% chance of surviving, that is of course going through Chemo and some possible surgeries.
At the same time we were getting intense pressure from every family member we knew, about what treatment to take and what we should be doing. Everyone had a cure for me, from juicing diets to going to Europe for some kind of oxygen treatments. That was stressful in its own right. I continued to ignore it all. The stress was overwhelming.
At this time I was going through a serious case of denial. I did not want to believe that I had cancer, I wanted to ignore it. I was finally out of the military, free to do what I wanted. I was working a job and providing for my family. The idea that cancer had invaded my life, well, my pride wouldn’t allow it. I was upset, bitter and very angry, at myself, at the world and God. My pride would not allow it, I just could NOT believe that it was happening. I was determined to lose myself to my work and WOW. But the pain and ache in my side was a very real physical reminder that this was real and had to be dealt with.
The reality of the situation was enough to break me of my computer game habit. Funny, because I was so addicted to that game it would have taken a life threatening situation to break me of it. That was the first of many things that the Lord wanted to correct in my life. The biggest hurdle was still to come, my pride.
We tried all kinds of diets, juices, everything that we could do so I could continue to avoid the chemo route and not face the hard reality of what was really going on. We bought a used Norwalk juicer and started juicing every day. We went on a strict vegan diet. Taking TONS of supplements and anything else we found that might help. The natural food section in the local organic store became our second home.
The doctors at first seemed pretty understanding about what we were doing and really never discouraged us, even commenting on how orange my skin was getting from all the juicing. That was until my next tumor marker blood test. They went from 1500 to about 2500. Thinks got about ten times more complicated. The doctors changed their tunes, and things became much more serious. Talk about discouragement.
A New Direction
Even with news that my cancer was still there, not slowing down, I was still in denial.
My Sister and Brother in law offered to let us move in with them, to help make things easier. I was totally against that. Because of his job, they occasionally would come and stay with us for a week or so. Never in my life have I seen the blessings that he has. He works from home, made literally three times more than I did and had the lifestyle that I dreamed of. He did not have any problems and everything just seemed to work perfectly in his life. It was like having salt in my wound when they would come and stay with us. It was not FAIR! I would look at my situation and his and get SOOO mad, angry and bitter, against him and God and question why others can have it so easy and why others have it sooo hard. My pride would not allow me to EVER move in with him. My heart was hardening, my pride was growing.
A month went by and my tumor markers were at 3,000. We were still juicing and dieting like crazy, and for all we knew it did slow the cancer down but not much. I was still trying to live a normal life, almost completely ignoring what was happening.
Then one day I was coming home from work, sat down on my couch and out of nowhere my wife's family cornered me. Intervention. A real life intervention, I almost laughed at the absurdity. But then I saw the tears in their eyes, and almost in the same moment a dam broke in my heart, my spirit, my soul. I crumpled onto the ground in tears, my pride gone, heart melting, bitterness gone, totally empty, beyond broken and willing. It was like finding a lost love, or finding a lamp in a room full of clutter : de-cluttered. Everything I held dear, what I thought was important, was gone in a flash. I just gave it all to the Lord, everything. "Trust in the Lord with your heart and not lean on your own understanding" became the new cornerstone of my being.
That night a change happened in me, almost as if being reborn. Something only the Lord could have brought, either by the situation or his by his Spirit.
Being humbled I finally accepted my wife's family invitation to move in with them. I had worked so hard to get where we were, while it was not much, it was all we had. So we gave it all up, and moved to Medford, into a little three bedroom house. My brother and sister in law gave us their room, and they moved into a little shack (if you could call it that) out in the yard. My parent in laws were also living there. It was one of the kindest gestures anyone has ever done for me, and they will always have a special place in my heart.
The last major obstacle in my heart had been melted away. I was humbled and repented of my horrible, ugly sin. I was now literally clay, ready for molding and shaping in the Lords hands.
While this whole process was going on, Jenny and I never stopped educating our selves about this cancer. We were still getting intense pressure from the family on what we should do, but in the end, it was up to my wife, I and the Lord.
We had wanted to continue trying the Gerson Therapy, but it was way too expensive and truth be told, we could not keep up with the juices. We had talked to a Christian family that had the same kind of cancer I did, and how they successfully did the Gerson and were healed. But they ended up having to sell their house and hiring someone to make the juices for them every day for two years. My wife and I only had 5,000 dollars to our name. It just was not possible.
We were still being covered by my insurance from the job I had in Roseville. I could tell a whole story about how much of a miracle that was, but suffice to say, God is good and works all things for a reason.
We went to an Oncologist here in Medford to get a check up, and my Tumor markers were at 3700. We talked about options, and of course when I told him I was juicing he was very skeptical and gave us a real hard time. But In the end we opted to do Chemotherapy, not because of the doctor, but through prayer and we felt that is where the Lord was leading us.
We get asked a lot about why we took the Chemo Route. Twenty years ago the fatality rate of my kind of cancer was nearly 100%. But the new Chemo drugs I would have to use had s better chance at reducing or removing this specific cancer (unlike 20 years ago). We were already heavily into as much natural stuff as we could. We were doing about 8 juices a day and the cancer was NOT slowing down. We did not think upping to 13 juices a day would make enough of a difference. My cancer was progressing fast enough that we had days to make a decision before it spread too far. So we chose Chemo. I think everyone’s situation is different. There are so many kinds of cancers and they all react different to different kinds of treatment.