Through the unexpected challenge of cancer Charles was never afraid or alone.
Early Years in America
I was born in 1959 in Akron, Ohio USA. When I was six I nearly lost my left hand when it got in the wrapping machine at the family bakery. My father stopped the machine just in time and doctors operated successfully. I believe God protected me, as He knew my hands were a vital part of my future.
The sixties in America were turbulent with the Vietnam War, the assassination of Senator Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. I remember being very afraid and worried about dying. It was made even worse when a boy in my street died of cancer. Overwhelmed with fear, I prayer, “Please God do not let me get cancer please do not let me die” and peace came.
The assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in May 1968 sparked major racial riots across America and in Akron a complete business district was burnt to the ground including the family bakery. My father decided that Australia was a better place to raise the family, so at age nine I found myself saying goodbye to my grandparents and relatives. It was difficult, but I now see that God was leading us to Australia and our family has truly experienced his blessing.
I attended Geelong College where I had a deep desire to be accepted by others, and sport helped me. I loved running, table tennis and especially Australian Football and wanted to play at the highest level. I remember saying’ “If only my hands were larger I would be a much better footballer.” Later when I chose to study dentistry at Melbourne University, I discovered that small hands are a huge advantage when performing the profession’s practical tasks.
I enjoyed the freedom of university. Drinking heavily on weekends became routine, but I would wander back to my room alone, drunk and feeling empty. “Surely there is more to life than drinking and parties.” Drinking often prevented sleep so occasionally I read a Voice Magazine (a publication of “Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship International”) with stories about men in hopeless situations whose lives were transformed by Jesus Christ. One night a thought came, “Charles you should follow Jesus Christ and become like these men who have found true peace and purpose in life.”
Life changing discovery
Hearing a radio invitation to an evening service, I decided to attend. The tram to the city stopped at the Royal Melbourne Hospital where three ladies about my age got on. I thought one of them was absolutely beautiful. A thought came, “one day you are going to marry that beautiful lady”. They got off at Collins Street and walked into the church! I started to attend a bible study group and during that time I became extremely emotional, as I realised God loves me and had willingly sent His only Son Jesus Christ to me for my sins so that I might have eternal life.
What a relief to accept Jesus into my life. I no longer feared death as I had eternal life. Words from the bible became alive as I experienced a personal relationship with God who knew me intimately and had a plan for my life.
After I became a Christian, God made some changes in my life. I stopped drinking alcohol to the dismay of my drinking buddies, and I broke up with my then girlfriend. My next girlfriend was Leanne, that beautiful lady on the tram. Within a year we were married and I now know the thought that I would marry her was from God.
Power of prayer
During a church progressive dinner, Leanne tripped on the street curb and our first child, six-month-old Stephanie had a skull fracture and ongoing bleeding into?her brain. Her crying and screaming was unrelenting. When her eyes rolled back and she lost consciousness, I sensed we were losing her, but fifty people at the dinner were praying. God’s answer was miraculous as in under a minute Stephanie awoke from unconsciousness and has displayed no long-term ill effects.
I owned a dental practice for almost 20 years in Geelong. The practice was dedicated to God and I asked Him daily for guidance and wisdom. I started in 1985 with two surgeries; by 1995 the practice had grown to six surgeries and ten employees. I saw that if you run a business on Godly principals with honesty, integrity, hard work, a fair price and good service then you can experience God’s blessing and provision.
“Don’t let Daddy die”
In 1998 I thought life was perfect. I was happily married, had two healthy children, Stephanie and Michael, a prosperous dental business and a lovely home. I thought my health was great too, as I was a cross-country runner and I never had a sick day off work in 15 years.
One Friday night in March 1998 the doctor phoned, “Charles the lump in your throat is cancer; you have Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma! You will have to stop working and have treatment straight away.” I started to cry. Stephanie was eleven at the time and she prayed a simple powerful prayer that I’ll never forget. “Dear God, please don’t let Daddy die from cancer.”
Exactly one week later, lying in bed alone at night, feeling apprehensive, I turned the radio onto a Christian radio station. The announcer said I had been diagnosed with cancer and he sensed I was listening. Then he said, “Charles we love and care about you. We are praying for you and believe God is going to heal you.” I knew it was a message from God.
My only chance
The battle with cancer, chemotherapy and radiotherapy was difficult, uncomfortable, at times painful, but I wanted to live for ten more years to see the children grow up. After two years the lymphoma was even more aggressive and throughout my body. My only hope for a medical cure was a successful bone marrow transplant, yet up to 40% who have this die within a year. My younger brother Robert turned out to be a perfect match for the transplant – an answer to prayers.
I spent six weeks in hospital recovering from a huge dose of chemotherapy, which destroyed much of my cancerous bone marrow. The pain, nausea, diarrhoea and infections were so severe on a number of nights that I felt I was balancing between life and death. I wasn’t afraid, because even if I died I knew I was headed for heaven with Jesus. I had this amazing assurance of Him being with me.
Returning home from hospital, I was thankful for many small blessings, particularly a home cooked meal with the family, but I still had severe health problems with my skin, liver, eyes, lungs and bladder. (For six months I had no control over my bladder.)
Then, six months after the transplant, a CAT scan revealed that my body was normal and free of cancer! It was a special moment.
I thank God and medical science for giving me a second chance. I do not understand why some people are healed from cancer while others die. Jesus was always with me; He is my best friend. All of us face difficulties in life but my advice is not to go through life alone. The best decision I ever made was to invite Jesus into my life. He has never left me and I can testify that God is good and faithful.
Trust in Him,
(Article taken from a FGBMFI pamphlet. Used with permission.)