Sunday, February 01, 2009

Miracles do happen.

Today I would like to share an amazing story of survival and blessing, with the permission of Shawn Farewell, who Brenda met through her work. I pray that his story blesses you as it blessed me!

I'm Shawn Farewell. My life has been one challenge after another. With each challenge I motivated myself to become that stronger person.

I work for an armored car company. In September of 1993 I was held up at gunpoint while on duty. With a gun at my back, I thought these were the last minutes of my life. I was terrified!Thankfully, the gunman decided not to shoot me. I was in shock at first. I had trouble eating, sleeping and I was very confused. I developed a condition called post-traumatic stress. Stress seemed to be a part of my life. It followed me for the next three months.

The second thing that would happen to me, I was told that I would be losing my full-time job to a part-time position at the company. "Well" if that wasn't bad enough; my fiancée was told she could be losing her job. I was trying to cope from the robbery and I was receiving more added stress in my life. What else could go wrong?

Then I got more bad news. I was told that my dog Bear of ten years had cancer and it was filling up his lungs. There was no chance of his survival.The night before we took Bear to the specialist I had so much on my mind; I couldn't believe all the stress in my life from the last three months. I woke up the next morning to a sharp pain in the left side of my neck. I didn't think much of it as Bear was on my mind. That day we got news we didn't want to hear. The specialist said there was no hope for Bear. He suggested I to put him to rest, which is what I did.

Later that day my fiancée Sandra was giving me a massage on the left side of my neck because I was still in pain. At that point Sandra discovered a lump on the left side of my neck and that's when the nightmare began, the roller coaster ride through HELL! I was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma ten days before Christmas in 1993. Well, Merry Christmas! "You have cancer." Besides having a lump in my neck, I also had a large mass of 7cm wide on my right lung and spots on my bones. This was one challenge I wasn't sure I could overcome. I thought I was given a death sentence. In fact, my first question was "how long do I have to live?"

I was to undergo eight chemotherapy treatments as an outpatient. After seven treatments the mass tumor on my right lung had not changed. My doctor suggested I may need to have a bone marrow transplant, but only if the tumor shrinks. Which meant a different type of chemotherapy, a more aggressive chemotherapy? I was admitted into the hospital for five days. I received two treatments a day for five days of intensive chemotherapy. When I was home and recuperating from chemotherapy I developed a throat infection and a high fever. I was brought into emergency, and then put into isolation for 48 hours. The doctors were concerned that if the fever didn't break I could have slipped into a coma. I spent another four days in the hospital recuperating from the throat infection. My doctor came to see me while I was in the hospital and said the tumor was larger and we have to change the chemotherapy protocol.

MY LAST CHANCE: One month later I had my second intensive chemotherapy treatment. I was given chemotherapy for 24 hours straight the first day. The second day they gave me a different chemotherapy for three hours and after a 12-hour break they administered the chemotherapy again for another three hours. The hours and days that followed felt like I was in hell! I was so sick, I begged God to just take me! I spent six days in bed; my body ached and vomiting became normal behavior. When I did start to feel human again, I broke out in a rash, my skin began to peel and I lost my taste buds for about two months. They slowly returned. If chemotherapy made me this sick, I was hoping it had done some type of damage to the tumor!

My next check-up with my doctor diminished my hopes. As the tumor hadn't changed in size. They didn't want to give me anymore chemotherapy fearing it would kill me. What an option; chemotherapy killing me or the cancer killing me! My doctor said there wasn't anything else they could do for me. But I'm a fighter, a warrior and a true believer, too strong willed to accept that. After discussion, my doctor said the only thing we can do is a biopsy. A surgeon was going to spend about 15 minutes putting a scope down my throat to see that the tumor was still cancer. At least, that's what they expected. Those 15 minutes turned into six hours. Instead of cancer, they found cysts. The tumor was dead! I was told that the operating staff cheered and I was the talk of the hospital. They were completely surprised by what they found. They opened my sternum and removed as much of they cysts as possible. It was truly a miracle! I beat cancer!

I wish I could say that was the end of my battles. I still had one more, sterility. I was in remission for two years. I had been tested twice to find out I had zero sperm count. My wife desperately wanted a baby and I couldn't give her one. My doctor suggested we look into adoption. A few months later, by yet another miracle my wife conceived our first child! I guess you can say I'm a man that believes in miracles. I believe a combination of things helped play a role in fighting my cancer, natural remedies, modern medicine and without saying my strong mind and spirituality, and the power of God.

This is just a small portion of what I had to overcome throughout my life.In the last 6 years the medical field thought my cancer came back twice. Once in 1995, and in 1998, But I keep fooling them! I have stayed in remission and with the birth of our daughter in 1997 and now our son in 2000. The doctors are speechless. You see, miracles do happen.

7 comments:

Marilyn said...

Attitude and a fighting spirit make such a difference. Even science recognizes this. Quite a few publications I've read since NHL entered our lives here have stated this truth. This is a connection between hope and what's going on inside the body.

And even when we don't feel up to fighting, the prayers of others can carry us.

Thanks for sharing this story!

Trenna said...

This reminds me to be thankful for the blessings and health in my life. I am sitting here reading this, and tears are streaming down my face.
Thank you for sharing Shawn's story.

Belinda said...

Dear Trenna and Marilyn,
I am so thankful that this blog, Whatever He Says, could be a platform for spreading Shawn's amazing story, and therefore spreading hope. Hope is such a powerful thing.

So often we hear stories and wonder if they are really true. This man is someone my daughter sees "in the flesh!" :)
Blessings and love to everyone today.

Dave Hingsburger said...

Stories like this leave me confused. I am of course happy for Shawn but wonder why my friend, with the same cancer, who fought just as bravely, who prayed just as fervently, is dying. Sometimes it seems like God is capricious in the handing out of health, happiness and wealth. But I'm glad for Shawn even as I am saddened as I watch my friend at the end of the journey. I just hope that the upshot of healing stories and the idea that attitude is the answer isn't that people who are dying are seen to dying because a lack of something within them - like it's their fault, they should have been more positive, they should have been more hopeful ... oh if only she'd have ... but I'm on a tangent, I thank God for Shawn's health and his journey and try really hard not to blame God for my friends.

Belinda said...

Dave, I have the same questions and don't pretend to have the answers. I know that my father-in-law, a pastor, who died at 62 of cancer, never said, "Why me?" but, "Why not me?" He believed to the end that God could heal him, but said that if he wasn't healed, still he trusted God. I wonder which is the greatest miracle.

Joyful Fox said...

Belinda,

It's interesting when we read Shawn's story because we can now rejoice and delight at the outcome. His story is one of victory.

However, he was in the battle and had many difficult days of struggle. He had pain and discomfort and stress and long bouts of it too! His victory came after the trenches. Sometimes, we have to wait for the sunshine after the rain - and a storm has an indefinite time frame.

Sometimes our victory is not known on this side of heaven. That is hard for us to understand. I hear Dave's words on that one. We don't get to choose and trust is something that is simple yet is so hard. Our perspective is so limited and there's so much that is difficult to understand.

Thanks for sharing Shawn's story and the blessing it is - at so many levels.

Anonymous said...

Lets give God the Glory, To Him be Glory Shawn, God wanted to show Himself through you. I give Him Glory forevermore. Amen