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A Roller Coaster

Description

Craig McConnell shares from his personal journey of battling Leukemia.

After learning of my diagnosis of Leukemia, I initially experienced waves of shock/surprise, fear and anxiety. But as with many disrupting events in life, those expected emotions were mingled with the unexpected.

I remember as a young boy standing in line to ride the rickety old wooden roller coaster on the Santa Cruz Boardwalk. It was named “Certain Death”, “Giant Dipper”, “Bone Crusher” or some other frightening moniker. As the line shuffled slowly forward to the sound of car loads of screaming riders, I became more and more frightened… and excited.

Something big, life threatening and adventurous awaited me. I was scared to death and pulsing with excitement as well.

Similar to that, in the first season of facing cancer, I also had a sense of exhilaration that I had just stepped into some life and death adventure with stakes higher than anyone ever chooses.

I knew God was present and to be found. I knew, though I felt very alone, I was not alone. I knew I was in for an epic ride… and there actually is something very sobering and keenly thrilling about that. 

Faith in God and a gripping terror were strange bedfellows for a season.

Early on I asked myself the question, “What has really changed with my diagnosis of Leukemia?’

My first response was “Everything!!!”

Every moment is now colored by my need of God, the desire to live, and the awareness of some dastardly disease lurking in my body. There’s a new level of lies from the adversary. There’s the throbbing desire to live well, a crisper appreciation and love of family and friends. 

Some relationships seem to be changing; some seem to have withdrawn a bit… as if I have kooties, or relate to me from a posture of denial as if I haven’t been diagnosed with anything. Then, a few, who only a couple of months ago were practically strangers to me, that I have turned to late at night with the need to be listened to or simply to be with over the phone.

Free reading books on history have been replaced with books on nutrition, detoxing, exercise and coffee enemas. Tears flow more often from the music I listen to. My prayers are probably more of what I always wanted prayer to be like but never experienced.

I hold Lori a little tighter and gaze a little longer into my daughter’s eyes.

The word "hope" seems to have bright flashing lights on it that I hadn't ever noticed before…. it seems like everything has changed.

My second response was… “very little” has really changed.

I’m terminal, mortal?

Actually that has always been true. I’m destined to die at some point whether it be in the womb, in combat at the age of 23, in an accident at 36 or in bed at 92.

What’s new is that this reality is now reality… ever present.

As it has always been, my life is in God’s hands… yeah I've got leukemia… but I could live another 30 years or choke on a chicken bone next Thursday.

My every breath comes from the Lord. Each and every breath. I realize that more deeply now, but it’s always been true.

There’s something sobering and keenly thrilling about that.

Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom (Psalm 90:12).

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