Diagnosis and Prayer

Things have moved fast and furiously for me the past 2 weeks. I was able to get a biopsy done last Friday morning at Johnston-Willis. I got the results back two days ago: T-Cell Lymphoma (Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia).

My pulmonologist quickly got me referred to the Massey Cancer Center at MCV, and I met with the oncologist this afternoon. After meeting with him, I was admitted to the hospital which is where I’m at now. I’ll be here for the next 3-4 weeks, while they run some additional tests (bone marrow biopsy, spinal tap, additional CT scans, tons of blood work). They will then start me on my first round of treatment, which will be a mix of chemo and steroids tailored to my specific type of leukemia. After this initial hospital stint, treatments will last 6-12 months. 1 week on, 3 weeks off. The doctors say it’s highly treatable and highly curable. The goal is to get it into remission quickly, then do maintenance treatments. While curing it is possible with the current treatment, he reiterated the only real way to cure it 100% would be through a bone marrow/stem cell transplant, but discussions about that would come later once it is in remission.

Ways to help and pray for Keri:

Keri will basically be a single parent for the foreseeable future while I’m doing these stretches in the hospital. Simple texts and encouragements to her would be well-received. If you wanted to do anything meal or money-wise, simple cards would be the best right now (Walmart, Kroger, Sheetz, Wawa, Visa-type cards). In addition to carting the boys around to all their activities, she will be up here at the hospital with me as much as possible, so it will eat into the gas budget. I also know there are a few ladies organizing some times to come help clean the house, which will be an imperative once I’m released. Keri could let you who that was if that interests you.

Pray that this wouldn’t drive her into solitude, but would deepen her relationships with others. She has a good support system around her now, I just pray that this would strengthen those relationships, as well as expand them.

As hard as it may seem now, pray that Keri would see this as a gift, and not a curse. Jesus has taken the curse of our condemnation AND the curse of our diseases (Galatians 3:13). This means this cancer is not punitive, but a sanctifying pathway to heaven. Pray that she would know and believe that God is NOT withholding good in this situation, but doing good.

Psalm 84:11
The Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.


Ways to pray for me:
  • Yes, continue to pray for a complete and miraculous healing, which would ultimately bring God glory and confirm why this cancer even exists in the first place.
  • Yes, pray for the doctors and nurses around me. Pray for clear insight and wisdom on their part when it comes to my treatment and care.

But what I’ve thought about a lot today as I’ve been a human pin cushion and had bone marrow pulled out of my hip bone is a variation on the John Piper maxim of “Don’t Waste Your Life”: I don’t want to waste my cancer. While myself and others have prayed for complete healing, I also want to be mindful that healing may not be God’s plan for me in this life, and I don’t want to waste this pain I feel right now. Pain that assures me that something wonderful is waiting for me:

2 Corinthians 4:17
For this light momentary affliction is preparing for [me] an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison

  • Pray that this would deepen my love for Christ. Cancer ultimately wins if this doesn’t cause me to feast more and more on the sufficiency of Christ throughout all these hardships.
  • Pray that I wouldn’t let this cancer rob me of the sense of God’s Sovereignty in this whole situation. I want my comfort and peace to solely come from him throughout all this, not the percentages doctors throw at me. I need to be reminded that one of the aims of God in my cancer is to continue to burn away any self-reliance, self-control, and self-determination in my heart so that I rely completely an utterly on him for my very literal next breath.
  • Pray that I wouldn’t waste this cancer by spending too much time reading about cancer, and little time reading about God. While I understand that ignorance isn’t a virtue when it comes to this, the allure for me as of late is to know more and more about this cancer, while a zeal to know God more has waned. The Bible calls this unbelief, and I need help guarding my mind from wandering down these paths.
  • Pray that I would actually partner with this cancer to destroy any appetite for sin in my life. Pride, false humility, lust, impatience. I don’t want to waste the power of cancer to help destroy these persistent foes in my life.
  • Finally, and maybe most importantly, pray that I would use this cancer as a means of witness to the truth and glory of Christ. I’m not in the critical care unit of MCV by some divine accident:
    Luke 21:12-13
    They will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name’s sake. This will be your opportunity to bear witness.
    This is an opportunity for me to bear witness to Jesus. He is infinitely worthy, and I pray that I would show that he is worth more to me than life. I don’t want to waste this opportunity.

I’ll send out additional updates, prayer requests, and practical ways you can continue to help as we move forward and the reality of all this slowly seeps into me and the rest of the Murphy clan. I pray for those reading this that the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, would guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Shelby out!