Part 1: Cancer, Doug & the Slugs, Music from a Sick Man’s Bedroom

CANCER.  The word you dread.

I learned of my brother Doug’s cancer when he called me on the phone to tell me.

A month before, my husband and I along with our two young daughters piled into our dark green Plymouth van and drove up to see Doug and his family in their new home during a long weekend in October of 1995.  We drove from our home in Wichita, Kansas up to Kansas  City where we caught I-29 highway going straight north to Grand Forks, North Dakota, all on a dark, cold, cloudy and blustery fall day.

During our brief time there, Doug was coughing.  A lot.  As a singer he had struggled much with allergies and illness, often taking steroids and antibiotics in order to carry out singing engagements.  This time Doug wanted to fight his “bug” without the aid of medication.

So after our visit, Doug finally went to the doctor.  He had some very swollen glands, and this chronic cough.  Maybe it was Mono?

But in November, just one month or so later, the diagnosis came back as Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. Devastating. I then learned that Doug hadn’t been feeling well all summer, during their move, and as he began his new position at the church in Grand Forks.

Very quickly surgery was scheduled to remove the swollen lymph nodes in his throat that contained the cancer.  And a regiment of chemo was prescribed.  Life changed very quickly for Doug and his young family.

1997 flipping burgersDoug grilling for one of our visits during his illness.

Today I read Matthew 4:18-20 (ESV)

While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he (Jesus) saw two brothers, Simon (Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen and he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”  Immediately they left their nets and followed him.


I was struck by how Peter and Andrew followed Jesus’ call immediately.  They didn’t stop to think about what this might mean.  They simply put down what they were doing and followed.

When one has an unexpected life-changing event, such as an accident or a cancer diagnosis, could this also be an invitation to follow Christ? To trust God with what is out of our control, and go together with Him into uncharted territory?  How we struggle to accept our new reality – new unknowns.  But are there also new possibilities?  Reflect on this passage and these thoughts with God.  What do you notice about your situation? Are you willing to put down life as you have known it and follow Jesus where He leads in the midst of your new circumstances? Consider journaling what you want to remember as you talk with God.



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