Sunday, November 14, 2010

Cancer Relapse Engraved in Gold

From my experiences in High School Chemistry I seem to remember that gold is one of the more pure and stable metals, in that it did not easily mix with the materials around it.   It is used in wedding rings, dentistry, all manner of jewelry, and I am sure science uses it for something important as well.  Gold is steady and sure.  It lasts.  These things coupled with the shine and beauty it has on its own is probably what makes it such a versatile and popular element.  We however have something which is infinitely more stable and helpful in our lives—the Love of God as brought to us through the Holy Ghost.  In sacrament meeting today, Brother and Sister Gee gave wonderful talks on what it means to trust God and how we can follow the promptings of His spirit in our lives.  I feel their words tie in with some difficult decisions in my life.  I have noticed in my own life going through cancer treatments how many times the right choice we make can seem like a bad choice at first, just like Nephi records on gold plates in the Book of Mormon.

Brother Gee related the experience of Nephi and his brothers in their attempts to get the Brass plates.  The Brass plates consisted of the scriptures of the time.  As Nephi writes, they needed them that they could “preserve unto them the words which have been spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets, which have been delivered unto them by the Spirit and power of God.”  The scriptures provide the foundation for us in our lives.  They teach us the gospel and those essential things we need to do to follow God.

My situation was not quite like Nephi’s.  We already have the scriptures today, and I am able to search them for the answers to questions I have.  Many times as I went through the treatments there came times when we had to make decisions about what direction I should go in my treatments.  I had to decide between two paths.  Just like Nephi had the goal to get the plates, I had a goal to get well, and overcome the trial I had.

Nephi and his brothers had a plan.  Laman, the eldest brother went first, and simply asked Laban for the plates.  It did not work, they were chased out.

I think my first plan was to not get cancer.  That one didn’t work for me either.

Nephi and his brothers came up with a second plan, this time a little more thought out.  We read in the scriptures, “And it came to pass that we went in unto Laban, and desired him that he would give unto us the records which were engraven upon the plates of brass, for which we would give unto him our gold, and our silver, and all our precious things.”  So, if asking for them didn’t work, Nephi and his brothers decided to go and ask to buy the plates.  They did even offer all of their precious things.  In response, Laban in his greed, “sent his servants to slay [Nephi and his brothers], that he might obtain [their] property.”  Not only were Nephi and his brothers not able to get the plates, but they “were obliged to leave behind [their] property, and it fell into the hands of Laban.”  Nephi knew God commanded them to get the plates.  I am sure it must have certainly seemed to them that God was not helping them.  They took the time to prepare, they were diligent, but as they went to go forth with the plans they made, they fell through.  And as they lost their property, they were even left with less than what they had before.

In going through leukemia treatments, there is an initial higher program of Chemotherapy which I had for about 8 months.  After that time, there are about three years of maintenance chemo.  The period with the maintenance is supposed to be a much easier time, and as I understood, some recovery should be noticed.  Like Nephi, I was also following through with what I knew was best.  I was taking the treatments as the doctors recommended, but, as I wanted to be doing better, I was not.  It became a time of real thought and contemplation for me and my family.  As a family, we began to question what the right path for me was.  After we spent some time praying and fasting, we decided the best course of action would be stop the treatments.  I know we all felt very good about the choice.  I still feel we made the correct decision.  For a while things went well.  I recovered remarkably fast, and I quickly regained the strength and energy.  However, not too many months went by, and in June of the next summer I had a relapse with the cancer.  I again had to go through the chemo, and also a bone marrow transplant.  I had a few questions myself.  If following God was right, why was I having challenges?  If following God brings blessings, why was I suffering?  As with all of us, sometimes when we follow God, it seems as if everything we have in life is falling apart.  It is hard to see God’s hand.  We can all learn from Nephi’s determination and his resolve to follow God as he says; “let us be faithful in keeping the commandments of the Lord; for behold he is mightier than all the earth, then why not mightier than Laban and his fifty, yea, or even than his tens of thousands? . . . Let us go up; the Lord is able to deliver us.”

Nephi had a resolve to do what God wanted.  Sometimes, just like Nephi, God has a plan for us to learn.  We need to learn to trust God and what He wants for us.  God’s plan is always better than ours.  Nephi took a different approach this time as he “was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which [he] should do.”  As Nephi was able to follow the direction of the spirit he was able to have the plates delivered to him.  The Lord was able to provide a way in which Nephi and his brothers were sure it was the Lord which had helped them, and not their own strength.  Nephi later recounts “what great things the Lord hath done for us, in delivering us out of the hands of Laban, and also that we should obtain the record . . . the Lord is able to do all things according to his will, for the children of men, if it so be that [we] exercise faith in him.”

I have been able to learn a similar lesson in my life.  Through the cancer relapse and the bone marrow transplant, I have learned we need to trust God in everything we do.  I have learned that I do not have power of myself, but it comes from Him.  I know He is in control of my life.  I have overcome many obstacles because of Him, and I do know I can do all things through Him.  Like Brother Gee mentioned in his talk, as we trust God, we are able to find the greatest happiness.  More often the not, God calms the sailor, not the storm.

We can find God’s direction in our lives as we make sure we take the time for Him in our lives.  Sister Gee councils us to put aside distractions.  We put aside those things which consume our lives and make sure God is our priority.  We take time to pray and search in the scriptures, we attend the temple, and we live lives of purity and virtue.

I do know God loves us.  I know He is there for us always in our lives.  Sometimes we can’t see God’s love in our lives, but as we are steadfast in keeping the commandments we can see God’s purpose and plan for us in our lives.

Scripture Reference; 1 Nephi 3-7


  1. You are a great example of following Nephi! I also very much enjoyed Brother Gee's insight, writing down that idea that God can calm the sea, but more often calms the sailor. It's the more powerful solution, though the less obvious. I think your experiences have tempered you, calmed you, and I appreciate your insights and your diligence.

  2. Thanks so much for posting this. It was something I needed to hear today! Keep up the good work!

  3. Bless you Elder Spencer for the work you do in service to the Lord. And bless your parents for the care they have taken of you and the love they have for you.


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