“The way my cancer was discovered was truly a ‘God thing.’ I had bought a term life insurance policy in 2002, and it came up for renewal in 2012. During that time, I had a doctor monitoring some spots on my liver. In March 2012, they performed a sonogram and said everything looked okay but wanted me to come back and have one last sonogram in September 2012. However, my insurance policy came up for renewal in between those two appointments, and I was told they couldn’t renew it unless I had that final sonogram. I reluctantly moved the appointment up and did the sonogram on the liver, expecting it to be fine.
“While my liver was fine, the doctor found some suspicious things in my abdomen and made an appointment for me to see an oncologist. When they called me with the update, I was in my car on my way to a meeting, and I had to pull over and have them repeat it. I said, ‘What? An oncologist—that’s a cancer doctor, isn’t it?’ They said, ‘Yes, and you need to drop everything you are doing and have bloodwork done today.’ I called my wife and then drove straight to the lab. My bloodwork came back completely normal. I didn’t feel tired or have any pain, but when I got the diagnosis, I was at Stage 2 with a very aggressive form of lymphoma. In retrospect, if it had not been for me signing that life insurance policy back in 2002, this cancer would have gone undiagnosed for months and would’ve certainly had a different outcome.
“The treatment available for the type of cancer I had was pretty effective in comparison to others, so I was very blessed. I went through six months of hard chemo, eight treatments, followed by four years of immunotherapy. I’ve been in remission ever since.
“In 2016, Pam Anderson, a pastor at Gateway, was moved to start a cancer support group. She went to Cancer Treatment Centers of America, which established the Our Journey of Hope program that is being used at churches across the country. She brought back their materials and recruited eight people to help, and I happened to be one of them. There were six of us who had been through cancer treatments and two who had been caregivers to cancer patients. We went through eight weeks of training, then we launched the support group.
“We meet the first Thursday of the month, at 7 pm, for about an hour and a half. It’s similar to a family group setting with a sharing time for each of us to give updates. We sometimes have an invited speaker who provides an encouraging message. Frequently, we will have someone who is actively going through treatments for the first time. We offer practical advice and spiritual support, and we always pray for each other.
“It’s a fearful thing when you get a cancer diagnosis—you can definitely feel lost—but we can be that steady rudder for you and truly look you in the eye and say, ‘I’ve been there. You can do this.’ We lift each other up and encourage one another. We know there’s a lot of need out there, and we don’t want people to feel like they have to go through this journey alone.”
Tim and his wife, Sandie, attend the Southlake Campus.
For more information on the Cancer Support Group and other Gateway Groups, visit groups.gatewaypeople.com.