Throughout my cancer journey, one of the many lessons God taught me was the lesson of humility. I already shared a little bit in a previous excerpt from Why about how I — a public speaker — had to learn to cope when a surgery resulted in me losing my voice.
This week, you’ll learn even more about how God stripped away my own self-assurance in order to force me to lean more on Him. Honestly, just writing about some of the experiences I had in the hospital was an exercise in humility. After all, anyone who bought my book could read about my most awkward and embarrassing moments. You’re about to read some of them now!
But I truly believe God called me to share these vulnerable moments — and how He helped me through them — so you know you’re not alone when you face storms in your own life.
If you’d like to read the whole story, you can order your full copy of Why? Answers to Weather the Storms of Life today for just $8.99. You can also download a free discussion guide and devotional to go along with the book.
Today’s excerpt is a continuation of Chapter 1: When the Bottom Falls Out.
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In one day, the security and normalcy of my entire world had disintegrated. I had no idea that ahead of me was a battle that included 18 surgeries and one-and-a-half years of chemotherapy. All I knew as I lay in that hospital bed on May 1 was that my life had been turned upside down and it wasn’t going to be righted anytime soon.
In those early weeks of my ordeal, everything was a blur. After the initial surgery, which was bad enough, they decided they had to immediately operate again to remove my spleen and see if my cancer had spread. I remember waking up after that second surgery on the cancer ward of the hospital … I was groggy … my chest felt like it was about to explode. The pain medication was wearing off, and I was not doing well.
As soon as I was able to focus, I realized someone was sitting at the end of my bed. It was my good friend and former pastor, David Jeremiah. He had flown coast to coast from San Diego to Lynchburg to speak at Liberty University. There he sat, waiting for over an hour for me to wake up so he could let me know he was there and to pray for me. I don’t remember his words, but I do remember him holding my hand and placing his other hand on my shoulder and literally crying out to God. What a moment — one that I will never forget!
During the months that followed, I endured many additional surgeries and surgical procedures. There were numerous complications. I spent weeks at a time in the hospital, went through a year and a half of debilitating radiation and chemotherapy, waded through countless agonizing hours of physical therapy, and came close to death many times. I was also served up a few healthy helpings of humility.
Weeks in a hospital can strip away all of your dignity, modesty, and control. With all the wounds, stitches, bandages … I was sore and immobile. I remember one particular nurse that was very young always had a smile on her face and always had a word of encouragement for me. Every four hours, she’d say, “Roll over,” and give me an injection of morphine in my hip. She had the unfortunate task of bathing me, shaving me … I was left with very little dignity.
After three days of tending to me, she bent down and whispered in ear, “Dean Brewer, I’m one of your students, and I’m praying for you to get well.” All I could do was pull the sheet over my head — I was never able to look her in the eye again!
There were good days and bad days — days I wanted to fight the disease and some days when, feeling weak, I wanted to give up completely. There were lonely, dark days, and nearly every one of them was painful.
And then, after months of excruciating pain and fear, the doctors finally gave me some good news. They told me I would survive.
A ray of hope! But just when I thought it was all over — as if facing cancer and chemotherapy were not enough — I developed more complications. The vein in my hand where I received powerful drugs collapsed and produced a chemical burn that destroyed the tissue and tendons of the entire upper part of my left hand. Doctors had to operate immediately … again.
When I went into surgery, the plan was to do a simple skin graft — no big deal, or so I thought. When I woke up, I discovered that the problem was much more serious than they expected. They had to attach my hand to skin and tissue from my side for a month in order for the blood vessels to reconnect. So picture this … a grown man with the voice of a 6-year-old child, walking around with his hand attached to his side and stuck down the front of his pants. God has to have a sense of humor!
During my fight with cancer, I felt an almost overwhelming fear of the unknown and struggled to comprehend it all. My mind was consumed with questions: How could this have happened to me? What am I going to do? Will life pass me by? Can I survive?
But of all the thoughts and fears running through my head, one simple word stood above them all … WHY?
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Are you asking “Why?” about a situation in your own life or in the life of a loved one?
Order your copy of Why? Answers to Weather the Storms of Life today and begin discovering the answers you’re looking for.