After eight months of not feeling well and requesting a second opinion, Chris and I found ourselves stunned, speechless, and physically ill when we heard the diagnosis that it was Stage Four throat cancer.
Leading up to this, my husband had a constant sore throat; he was experiencing abnormal weight loss; and had little or no energy to get through the day. Because of the location of the tumor, he was not a candidate for surgery. We were told that surgery in this location has three downsides: quality of life, disfiguration and potential loss of voice. Thank goodness we weren’t even considering that route. But what do we do now
#1 We start to pray and we enlist the help of thousands of people to pray on Chris’ behalf.
Whole churches in Michigan, Texas, Indiana, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Illinois and Wisconsin (that we know of) were praying for his healing and recovery. We claimed Exodus 33:14 as our guidepost. The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you and I will give you Rest.”
#2 We start treatment as our doctors have prescribed.
We had a cadre of physicians who were caring for Chris and providing their wealth and years of knowledge and expertise. We put our trust in them. We believed that the cocktail of drugs and procedures prescribed were proven to attack and ultimately destroy the tumor. On January 6, 2014 he began the treatment plan. He was concurrently bombarded with radiation and chemotherapy: seven chemo treatments (one day per week) and 39 radiation treatments. During that time he lost 35 pounds, was hospitalized three times, had two additional biopsies, and altogether weathered some severe punches that kept coming left and right.
#3 We put the 24 years of self-awareness that we have about our striving needs into intentional practice every day.
As Kolbe Certified™ consultants and Kolbe practitioners we began diligently to practice what we have been teaching since 1990. Why is this so important? There are many applications for the Kolbe A™ Index, but one of the primary applications is helping each person recognize the environment, type of work, and activities that play to their strengths. Understanding this and putting this into practice for individuals who are in the healing process is huge. In order for Chris to thrive again, he needed to heal; and in order for him to heal he needed to be in the environment that allowed him to thrive. Chris’ Kolbe MO is 7752. This means that Chris needs to have a strategy and a plan to manage his day to day activities smoothly. He needs specific information and he needs proof and evidence that his doctors were prescribing a plan that had worked in the past. Chris thrives when he can get into a routine. Chris needs to bring structure and predictability to his surroundings when faced with crisis or chaotic situations. When Chris has a plan, a map and a course laid out that he can replicate this creates positive energy for him. He needs the spaces around him to be neat, tidy and orderly. He craves consistency and consolidation. When faced with uncertainty, Chris is willing to try new approaches if there is a rhyme and a reason for doing them. He’s willing to modify plans if he has to and he is open to finding alternatives and making adjustments as new information surfaces. But Chris is all thumbs when he must work with his hands to open bandage packages or crush his medication, as he could no longer take his pills orally.
One of the hardest decisions Chris made was to have a feeding tube inserted. This type of cancer required the feeding tube because the radiation would do a lot of damage to the good cells in his mouth and throat. Many of us just take for granted the process of eating. For those undergoing radiation treatment the entire mouth is in pain, and the saliva glands are destroyed rendering most foods difficult to chew and virtually impossible to swallow. Thank goodness his sister was first to respond by saying, “that will just be the greatest thing.” It gave him a sense that others had survived before with this, and it was no big deal.
Every meal he would sit at the kitchen table and arrayed in front of him was his “science lab.” Those of you who prevent in Implementor can relate. It exhausted him just to look at all the physical things—beaker, stir sticks, spoons, glass, water, nutrition, syringe, needles, tube. And now I have to make all this work with my hands?
#4 We chose a caregiver who first and foremost would create an environment that mirrored Chris’ innate needs; as well as do willingly (without bitterness or resentment) what he could not do for himself.
That caregiver was me. My innate strengths are virtually the opposite of Chris.’ And, I have responding Implementor energy which makes me willing and ready to help with all the manual effort that was required. I have a vivid picture of Chris looking at his “science lab” and putting his head down in exhaustion. I will not forget the day he said, “it is time to stop all this.” My role was to remove or minimize the physical aspects, manual efforts, and mechanical contraptions of this challenge; to keep things neat, tidy and orderly in our home; and to help Chris establish and stay on a routine as much as possible. My proofs of love were to tear open the bandages and apply when needed, to be the pill crusher, and to even do the tube feedings when Chris had lost all will to keep going. I realized very early on that if Chris was going to heal we needed to minimize having him do what he naturally resisted. I became his Implementor hands and feet.
#5 Expect a Miracle.
There is a home in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin where the signs everywhere say “expect a miracle.” We lived each day expecting that Chris would be healed.
#6 Give Thanks and Be Grateful.
We began a routine of praying together each morning, giving praise and thanksgiving to Jehovah Rapha—our God who heals.
In my previous career I used to sell advertising for newspapers, magazines and radio stations. Back then we called it the “mix,” meaning, don’t rely on just one advertising source–use a mix of mediums to get your message out. Our unique mix was:
- To pray and enlist a multitude to pray for us—to call on the name of the Lord. (1)
- To believe that the treatment plan we were given had been proven to attack and eliminate the cancer. (2)
- To create a consistent environment necessary for Chris to thrive and ultimately heal. (3)
- To enlist a caregiver who willingly would create that environment, and who would do for Chris what he naturally resisted. (4)
- To Expect a Miracle. (5)
- To Be Grateful and Thankful every single day. (6)
Did adding #3 and #4 make a difference? Can a self-awareness tool, specifically the Kolbe Index, put into practice actually play a role in saving your life? Put in the proper perspective, yes, we believe it can. We believe and we will keep on believing that it played a fundamental role and that it was an essential component to Chris’ full and complete healing and recovery.
Don’t wait to put into practice this self-awareness insight until it is life or death for you. Do it now. We want you to improve your personal life, your health, your career well-being and your relationships today.
By: Mari D. Martin
Kolbe Certified™ Master Team Consultant
March 2014 January 2015
What others have said:
“You are on to something. Really on to practical wisdom, putting Kolbe into practice fighting (in this case – disease) in the way one is wired. This is beyond a career and work; it’s in our DNA. –Marylin Bright
A powerful story, well-told. –Steve Triezenberg, President and Dean, Van Andel Institute Graduate School
Well done. This makes sense. I am so thankful to God for His grace, mercy, strength and healing that both of you have been experiencing. I agree 100% that self-awareness is huge! –Bob Bouwer, Lead Pastor, Faith Church, Dyer, IN
I love how God worked and continues to work through all the gifts he has given to you and Chris. –Todd VanEk, President, Mission India
This is a powerful, faith-full, practical story of God’s healing, the journey you and Chris took together, and how you maximized the way God made both of you to be partners in healing. It is wise and makes perfect sense. –Ken Eriks, Director of Congregational Mission, Reformed Church in America
I was incredibly moved by your article and can’t tell you enough how grateful I am that you were willing to share it with me. –Amy Bruske, President, Kolbe Corp
This is a powerful testimony of God’s power in both of your lives. By understanding Chris’ MO you could step in and help in a way that was welcomed, because giving up is never good in a battle against cancer. –Erin Ehinger, Dykhuis Farms
This is powerfully engaging, and very influential. Through your story, people understand more why you promote and advocate for this self-awareness tool. The Kolbe provides more pathways for heart to heart communication to “Live the Good Life.” You and Chris have experienced that in a life and death situation.” –Jack Postma, Retired Principal, Unity Christian High School
This is moving, truly an amazing story. I rejoice with the two of you and thank God for how Chris is doing. –Mike Pitsenberger, Lead Pastor, Dyer Campus Faith Church, Dyer, IN
The logic of this story is very powerful. –Tony Campbell, Director of Missional Engagement, Reformed Church in America
This is brilliant and inspiring. I just know there’s something here and whatever it becomes will be powerful. –Jeff Lane, Director of Development Reaching Higher, Inc.
This is a very moving and insightful telling of navigating yours and Chris’s horrendous journey. You drew on every strength you had…your faith, your network of friends, your professional expertise and your love for each other…to find your way through. –Janet De Young, Retired CEO Community Foundation Holland/Zeeland Area