Early June, 2018 my wife, Tanya, and I discovered a large mass in the stomach of our six-year-old son, Malcolm.
The situation progressed rapidly, and what transpired over the next few months was one of the most challenging experiences of my life.
It’s one thing when you are the person facing a particular battle, and it’s quite another when you must helplessly watch someone you love fight their own battle.
The lessons I learned were numerous, but I want to share three.
1. Never minimize your pain
Early in this experience I struggled to put a voice to my pain, and I found it difficult to reach out for help. Following a tough day at the hospital I crossed paths with an elder, Frank Badger. He knew nothing of what our family was going through and asked me how I was doing. Having known Frank for years, I knew that when he asked this question he genuinely wanted to know. However, I was hesitant to share what was going on with Malcolm because this man lost all of his kids in a single car accident. In my mind I thought who am I to complain about my child when he lost all three of his? But Frank waited patiently with his warm spirit and I eventually opened up. At the end of our conversation I explained my initial reason for being hesitant, and he said, “Don’t you dare. Don’t you ever compare your pain to anyone else’s. For you it’s real, and you should never minimize your pain.”
2. It could always be worse
While in the hospital we were in a room with four other beds. Across from Malcolm was a four-year-old girl, and we quickly learned that she had flat lined twice. Due to medical complications there was a chance that she would now have her right foot amputated. I watched and listened to both the mother and grandmother of that little girl, hearing about the hell that they went through and the uncertainty of the future. I know myself, and I understand my potential to revert back to that old victim mentality. I used to do that throughout my early struggles with mental illness and addiction, and it was completely useless and self-defeating. Not taking anything away from how difficult the current situation was with Malcolm, it was important for my own wellness to understand that it could always be worse.
3. The power of prayer
As a motivational speaker I put many of my personal struggles out there. However, when it comes to personal issues that take place within our family Tanya and I are pretty private. When we arrived at the hospital for the surgery, few people knew anything about it. Five days after the surgery we ran into some complications, and Malcolm’s health took a sudden turn for the worse. Desperate, Tanya and I made a decision to post a status on social media that night. We also requested prayers. Well, they came pouring in. The fact that so many people I didn’t even know were now praying for our son brought me to my knees. The following day my wife and I watched in disbelief as Malcolm turned a corner and began to heal. Three days later we all left the hospital. Malcolm’s recovery can only be described as a miracle, and I believe that prayer was behind this.
August 10th will mark one year since we left the hospital. Many of you were part of our journey and sent prayers our way. And for this I sincerely thank you.
As a quick update, we were relieved to hear that the tumor was benign. We also recently met with the surgeon and he informed us that the tumor was not growing back.
I never used to understand the phrase Blessed are those who struggle.
Well I do now.
I had no idea that I would receive so many blessings amidst such challenging times.
Life is precious.
Life is good.