Lessons learned after one year with Ewing Sarcoma

Suffering is part of life. It comes in many shapes and forms, and we will all experience it in one way or another. One year ago, on February 18, 2021, suffering entered our life in a way that we had never anticipated. It was on that day we learned that Markus had Ewings Sarcoma, an aggressive form of bone cancer. Throughout the past year God has shown us how to suffer. He has manifested his love to us. He has given us times of joy. He has brought upon us times of sorrow. He has also taught us that our ways, hopes, and desires are not always the same as His. Perhaps the most important lesson God is teaching our family is that, regardless of how the journey unfolds, He is sovereign and in total control and, come what may, we need to remember that we rest in the loving arms of Jesus.

Markus did not choose to get cancer. No, God decided that it was Markus who would get this life-threatening disease. Suffering from cancer is most often the result of things outside of our control and as such we aren’t responsible for why said suffering is visited upon us. What God demands is a right response to this suffering. When we were called to respond to Markus’ diagnosis of cancer, we immediately went to God in prayer, and to His Word. We begged God to be merciful (Psalm 57:1), we asked him to not forsake us (Psalm 138:8), and we pleaded on His promises to not let the waters overwhelm us (Isaiah 43:2).

We also started looking for solutions to alleviate the suffering. Many doctors, specialists, and oncologists became engaged in this. Our response was not one of passivity, but rather it was an active response. God has gifted many people with solutions to the suffering known as cancer and we were brought into relationship with them so they could use their skills to push back the cancer and make Markus well again.

Along the way there are others who help us respond to this suffering. Markus’ friend group is a constant source of encouragement for him. Family and friends have prayed with us regularly. Our local church family calls prayer meetings, provides meals, and participated in other practicalities that help us to focus on our response to suffering.

As we have responded to this suffering, we have done our best to honour God. We have looked to Him every day for our strength and we have appealed to His mercy, asking Him to make Markus well again. One year later God has answered all of our prayers for strength, endurance, and perseverance as we walked this journey. Yet, He has still not answered our prayers for Markus’ healing as we might have wished.

Numerous times we have brought Markus to the hospital for scans only to receive the disheartening news that the cancer is still there, that it’s growing, and that the prognosis is not good. From a human perspective it appears as though Markus will be in the (literal) arms of Jesus much sooner than any of us are praying for. This will be good news for Markus but will bring more suffering for all of us left behind. What do we do? We’ve done everything God wants us to do and nothing is changing with Markus’ health.

One year of cancer and at times we wonder where God is in all this. In truth, we don’t know why God has brought this suffering, and we don’t have to know. But we will have to answer for how we respond.  

At the end of the day, we are all called to rest our heads on the pillow of God’s sovereignty. In doing so we are participating in an act of submission; submitting to the trials that God puts on our paths and growing in holiness through it. We need to respond in God-glorifying ways that don’t undermine the sovereignty and will of God. For this too is His work, and we are called to humbly embrace the uncomfortable work of God.

“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” (2 Corinthians 4:17)

One more day and 19 rounds of chemo are done. Time to watch some hockey!
Markus is definitely the favourite uncle. 😊
Markus and his friends were gifted a few nights stay at a cabin in BC's interior. Looks like they made the best of it!
With pond hockey not really an option Markus cheerfully took on the cooking duties.
Looks like the ribs went over well!