"Special Assignment: A bout with leukemia took Tom Gallant... and others on a journey of discovery "
(Beyond Words Magazine, April 2005)
Cancer changed my life forever. On October 3, 2004, I went to the Hospital Emergency Room with a low-grade fever and a scratch on my leg that wasn’t healing, only to be told by the ER doctor that I had developed an aggressive form of Leukemia: Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia. I was hospitalized for a total of 43 days and received both inpatient and outpatient chemotherapy. I had several bone marrows tests, blood, and platelet transfusions, along with many diagnostic tests and even lost my hair. The good news is that I have been cancer free since my hospital stay! I can’t guarantee that you or your loved one will receive the same physical healing that I had, but I can guarantee that you are not alone in your cancer journey.
The same God that was with me every step of the way will also be with you if you allow him access to your heart. I discovered then and continue to discover daily that God is greater than cancer. During my hospitalization, I came to realize that Jesus Christ is the “Big C” and cancer is the “small c.” You don’t have to be afraid of cancer because of the reassurance that Christ is in control.
While in the hospital, God spoke to me that He not only allowed this to happen but had a plan for my life, e.g., a Special Assignment. During your cancer journey, be assured that God has you on a Special Assignment that will not only change you but also those around you. If you listen to God’s voice and allow Him to change you, your journey will have everlasting results. I encourage you to read my complete story, which includes my meeting Sister Sue Tracy, one of Spectrum Health’s Oncology Chaplains, and a voicemail message that Dr. Richard Switzer left for my pastor regarding my Special Assignment. I trust that through your challenges, God will speak to your heart! Be encouraged; you are not alone!
Seven Lessons learned from cancer: by Tom Gallant and Sister Sue Tracy
1. I will not let cancer defeat me, and my attitude will stay positive.
2. It is normal to have a multitude of emotions; you may be angry, sad and distraught. You may even be asking the following questions, be sure to ask God for wisdom as you walk through this journey.
- Why did I get cancer?
- What did I do wrong to cause this to happen?
- Am I going to make it?
- Why now?
- What about my family?
- What about my career?
- Do I have enough money to get through this?
- What are the long-term implications of having cancer?
- Do I have the right doctor for my condition?
- Am I getting good advice?
- Should I take chemotherapy, radiation, have surgery or other treatment options?
3. The big “C” Christ conquers the little “c” cancer. God is bigger than any challenges or problems we face. He is always there to help and understands your suffering. Embracing God’s grace is essential. We may have difficulties, but this is part of God’s bigger plan for our lives. It may take time to understand His plan, but be patient, and He will reveal His plan to you.
4. Facing hard times is an invitation to deepen your faith, widen your wisdom and cultivate compassion. Hard times can make us stronger. When we comfort others, they need to see our faith in action and see God in us. This will reassure them that they are not alone.
5. Through life’s challenges, we have the opportunity to meet others, deliver the message of hope and comfort them in their time of need. Listening to one’s story with empathy and compassion will go a long way toward helping people feel better about their situation. In turn, they may reach out to help someone as well.
6. How to help a friend or loved one facing the challenge of cancer:
- Send Cards
- Call them often, asking if they have specific needs for that particular day.
- Remember their family and help with their needs. They may need childcare, meals, yard work, laundry and cleaning help. Gas cards and restaurant gift cards are especially helpful because family members spend so much time away from home.
7. Remember, when you have cancer, you also have access to the hearts of people like never before. Share your story and allow God to use you to bring healing to someone else. God loves you, listen to his voice.
Words To Live By:
“God’s voice is glorious in the thunder. We can’t even imagine the greatness of His power” Job 37:5 (NLT).
Cancer – the terrifying word no one wants to hear or speak about. It strikes fear in the hearts of most people, triggering images of suffering and death. A cancer diagnosis makes one feel vulnerable and fragile. Shock, fear and disbelief are also common reactions. Many people wonder, “Why is this happening to me?” Some are afraid to die, and indeed, some will. You are not alone in these feelings and reactions. Many others who have received a cancer diagnosis are afraid too, but there is always hope! Death may be the end of life as we know it on Earth, but it is also the beginning of a new life in Heaven for those who are saved through Jesus Christ.
Grace Notes by Philip Yancey
“Taking God’s assignment seriously means that I must learn to look at the world upside down, as Jesus did. Instead of seeking out people who stroke my ego, I find those whose egos need stroking; instead of important people with resources who can do me favors, I find people with few resources; instead of the strong, I look for the weak; instead of the healthy, the sick” (25).
In 2019, Tom remains cancer free and continues to share the story of God’s goodness and healing. In 2018, he and Liz celebrated their fortieth wedding anniversary with their children and eight grandchildren.
Real People, Real Stories, Real God®