Monday, January 26, 2009


As I have shared on a number of occasions, one of the lessons learned on this incredible journey with cancer has been to celebrate each day, knowing that none of us is guaranteed tomorrow. And so indeed Linda and I have faced each and every day with a new-found joy and excitement, acknowledging "This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it!" (Ps 118:24)

Nevertheless, some days elicit more celebration than others -- like this past Friday, January 23, 2009. That date marked the one-year anniversary since the day we discovered my body was riddled with cancer and I was given less than six months to live.

Happily we found a very special way to celebrate my survival: we embarked on another 7-day cruise vacation in the Caribbean! For those of you who have followed our story, you will recall that one year ago at this time we had already booked a Caribbean cruise and our sail-away date was imminent. The timing could not have been better. My oncologist suggested there was no better medicine for the present than a romantic get-away with my sweetheart. (Reading between the lines: "Enjoy the next few days, for I fear your days are few.") By God's grace, the "Big C" did not deter us from creating some great memories on the high seas.

So one year later we found ourselves once more imbibing in God's goodness and reveling in the joys of His creation: walking along a palm-lined beach, warm white sand fondling our toes... gazing at an endless horizon as the sun's rays shattered into a dazzling display of dancing rivulets on waters that vacillated between emerald green and deep azure (all the while, of course, slathered in a gelcoat of SP-30!) Our spirits soared as we witnessed a kaleidoscopic sunset, embraced tropical breezes, or gazed at star-studded skies, refusing to exhale the deliciously pure night air.

We are all drawn to such experiences -- encounters with our senses that elicit both delight and a deep insatiable yearning for perfection and beauty, a foretaste of a deeper reality whereby we long to be immersed in Eden once more. For the one-time atheist, C.S. Lewis, it was this universal human experience of yearning for the eternal (which he describes as "joy") that first drew him to acknowledge the existence of God. As the writer of Ecclesiastes declares, "He has set eternity in their hearts". (Eccl 3:11)

And as Linda and I have reflected on the events of the past year we have gained a new perspective on life. Well, perhaps not a new perspective, but one that is now more certain and consequential than ever before. It is an eternal perspective, one that affirms we are destined to embrace a reality that transcends this brief excursion on planet earth. In short, that we are made for paradise.

We also know that in this life we will not experience paradise. Many of our troubles, strife, and fears evaporate once we recognize that our struggle is rooted in a frustrated longing for paradise on earth. We are learning to smile on rainy days, to persevere through life's reversals, to more readily forgive each other's shortcomings, and to appreciate the potential for good in the most devastating of circumstances.

Yet He graciously continues to dole out free samples of the boundless joy that is to come. Check it out, next time you witness the birth of baby, or spy a soaring eagle, or stand breathless before a mountain range, or capture a rainbow in the afternoon sky. One year after the diagnosis of an unusually aggressive disseminated cancer, I am basking in the warmth and beauty of His goodness, love, and grace.


PS -- We return to UVA in Charlottesville on February 9, 2009 for repeat scans and a check-up. I will provide an update then.


  1. So glad you got to go on this trip! :)

  2. Hey Brother Dan and Linda, Dad and I celebrate God's grace and how so many, many prayers and the incredible care you have received (in and outpatient :-) have made this day possible for you - for us! Love and continued prayers, Dad and Don

  3. Dr Dan
    WOW you are the best. We love you both an charish each and every day we have because of your experiences and your sharing with us.

    Jackie and Nat

  4. You are such an isnpiration. God Bless and thank you