It was the winter of 2001. I was in eighth grade. I attended Hartland Middle School at Ore Creek in Hartland, Michigan. I started feeling a little sick around the first of the year. Not really thinking much about it, I thought to myself, “It is winter and is the season for the flu.” So, I knew I was just going to have to “ride it out.” It really took full effect beginning around late January to early February and lasted all the way to the end of February. On top of that, I was craving McDonald’s chicken nuggets! Yes, I was craving McDonald’s chicken nuggets out of all things! After several trips to our family doctor and the U of M hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan, along with testing, I was diagnosed with testicular cancer.
I had grown up Catholic and went to Sunday school and Wednesday evening catechism. However, I never felt that I had a relationship with God. You are taught to pray to this saint if you lose something, or you can pray to Mary or to Jesus. You almost feel as if you have your menu of options depending on the situation. I did not know anything different, but it just felt funny. Then when I was in the sixth grade, I was approached by our Priest to become one myself! I thought this was a little weird, considering I was only in the sixth grade.
Fast forward to two years later, after completing six months of cancer treatments, I underwent surgery. I was only supposed to be under the knife for 6-8 hours when, in fact, I was out for about 10-12 hours. The reason for the extended surgery was that the surgeons found a lump in my abdomen that the cat scans never detected. In that time frame, while I was under, I saw these brilliant beams of light! It was almost as I was looking at this picture-perfect sunset on a cloudy day with the sun just beaming in the spectacular array through the clouds. All of a sudden, this man that looked like Jesus (exactly how you are picturing Him in your head right now) was standing in front of me. He gave me a hug, and I looked him in the eye, and I asked, “Lord is this my time?” He said, “No, son, you have too many people praying for you, and I have plans for you. Now go in peace.”
After that, He vanished, and then I started dreaming about those “now that’s what I call music” cd commercials oddly enough! The Lord does work in mysterious ways, right? I then knew the Lord was a personal God. I gave Him my life. It was then that I truly felt saved! People over that six-month span told me to remain positive, and that is half the battle. Others asked how I did it? It was through staying positive and holding to my favorite Bible verse: “I can do all this through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13 NIV). In conclusion, believe in the Lord and yourself, and you can conquer anything!