EDITOR'S NOTE: The Times Free Press is continuing a series of stories from readers about life experiences they attribute to divine intervention. We'll publish another each week as your stories continue to arrive. If you have a God Thing to share, email Life@timesfreepress.com, or mail to Life Department, Chattanooga Times Free Press, 400 E. 11th St., Chattanooga, TN 37403.
This week, Diane Bunch of Harrison shares her brother's miraculous journey through prostate cancer.
With his permission, I am writing to share the God Things that have happened to my favorite brother, Tom, over the past year. He is my only brother, but he is still my favorite.
God Thing No. 1: This story started in June 2018 when Tom lost his job at a local company due to a company reorganization. My brother was a workacholic, a family trait. He went to work at 4:30 a.m. and usually worked till 4:30 p.m. with extra time on weekends. He averaged 60 to 70 hours a week of hard physical labor. It is difficult to call the loss of a job a God Thing, but I think you will see why later. In August 2018 at a regular physical exam, Tom's PSA blood test came back at 23 (a normal noncancerous PSA is 0-2). This PSA result led to a series of diagnostic tests (CT scan, MRI and biopsy). The results confirmed that Tom had prostate cancer, which had already metastasized outside the prostate gland. The biopsy result called the Gleason score was 10 (on a scale of 1 to 10). To top that off, the type of cancer was identified as the most aggressive cancer possible. The local doctor diagnosed the situation as stage 3, ruled out surgery and offered to consult with his team for possible treatment options.
God Thing No. 2 came about when a conversation with a friend led us to a gentleman named Charles Adams. Charles is an 18-year prostate cancer survivor. Being an engineer, Charles researched every treatment option available before making his personal choice. Charles' research led him to the Radiotherapy Clinics of Georgia (RCOG) and a process called ProstRcision. RCOG is a world-renowned organization that has treated over 16,000 prostate cancer patients with a high success rate.
Charles has made it his ministry to help other men with prostate cancer. He has referred over 40 men to ROCG in the past 18 years with most having positive results. Tom and his wife met with Charles on a Thursday. They quickly decided to investigate the ROCG option. A call to ROCG on Friday resulted in an appointment in Atlanta the following Tuesday. After consulting with a ROCG radiation oncologist, Tom and Lisa decided on the ProstRcision treatment plan, which included radioactive seed implants and 40 radiation treatments (five days a week for eight weeks) in Atlanta. Knowing my workacholic brother, he would never have agreed to miss about 10 weeks of work if he were still employed. God put Tom on vacation for a reason. See God Thing No. 1.
God Thing No. 3: The RCOG was able to secure lodging for Tom and Lisa at the American Cancer Society Hope House on an Emory Campus close to RCOG. The cost of a hotel room in downtown Atlanta is about $250 a day. The cost of a room at the Hope House is zero. Forty days at $250 represents a savings of about $10,000. The Hope House staff was excellent. They provided transportation to daily treatments as well as several free meals during the week provided by volunteer companies and churches.
God Thing No. 4: Meeting and sharing the prostate cancer treatment process with other prostate cancer patients at the Hope House was priceless. Sharing treatment options, results, side effects and personal experiences with others resulted in a band of brothers who still communicate with each other months after treatment. Another inspirational aspect of staying at the Hope House was participating in the weekly graduation ceremony with cancer patients who had completed their treatment and were headed home to resume their normal life routines. You also see that things could be a lot worse.
God Thing No. 5: Tom's post-treatment three-month PSA test came back at .47 and his six-month PSA test was .05. Praise the Lord.
God Thing No. 6: Answered prayer. Tom's story and his name made it to the prayer list of hundreds of people and numerous churches from Tennessee to Maine. People who didn't know Tom personally were praying for him and sending him notes of encouragement because they wanted to help. God has answered those prayers. Tom's Stage 3 cancer is under control. He is now self-employed and working fewer hours with much less physical stress than before. God has and continues to answer prayers for Tom — one blessing at a time, one God Thing after another.
— Diane Bunch