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Thursday, November 7, 2002
Take That, Cancer!
Thirty-year-old Mark Gravell never guessed that an unassuming mole would prove to be Stage IV melanoma. Given only a short time to live, Mark had to decide whether to believe the doctor's prognosis or to trust in God's healing power.CBN.com Ė
Itís hard for parents to imagine outliving their children, but itís a reality the Gravell family faced when their only son, Mark, got cancer.
MARK: Eighteen months was what he thought I would continue to live before the disease came back, before it re-manifested itself and I had to go through the whole process again.
TIM: Doctors told Mark that he would likely die within a couple of years. Mark had never thought much about cancer. He had always been healthy. After all, he was only 30. So when he started getting tired working his courier service in Minneapolis, Minn., he didnít think much about it. Then he noticed a growth under his right arm, and everything changed.
MARK: It started out as a mole, actually. It continued to grow, and if it hadnít become sore and eventually bled, I probably would have never gone to the doctor.
TIM: The mole was removed and sent for testing. When the results came back, Mark listened to his doctor in disbelief -- Stage IV melanoma.
MARK: Just to hear that the pathology report came back and the growth was malignant, even just to hear that, was devastating.
TIM: The news got worse. Further tests revealed that the cancer had spread to Markís liver, spleen, and bones. It was so advanced even modern science had little to offer.
MARK: Because I had waited so long to go into the doctor, it was so far spread that almost all of their treatment options were experimental.
TIM: Markís parents, Lynn and Vi, took the news very hard.
VI (Mark's mother): I felt like my heart had broken into a million pieces and my life had totally collapsed, because he was our only son and we hated to lose him.
TIM: The best treatment, if successful, would only extend Markís life a short while.
LYNN (Mark's father): I sat and talked with the doctor and asked, 'If he follows the treatments as you suggest, how much would that add to his life?' And the doctor said, 'I donít know exactly.' I said, 'Are we talking about a month or a few years?' And he said, 'a few months at the most.'
TIM: But Mark held onto his faith, especially one Scripture he felt God gave him as a promise: the 23rd Psalm.
MARK: When I was feeling low, or if I was feeling scared, that was what I held onto, because God had said that it would be OK. This literally was the shadow of death cast over my life, but I believed in God.
TIM: Faced with a barrage of treatments, Mark decided to wait. He and his parents went to prayer. They asked everyone they knew at home and overseas, including CBNís Counseling Center, to pray. But Markís condition continued to decline. He couldnít keep food down and needed morphine to ease the pain.
MARK: It was very painful to move, with the lower back pain and the pelvic pain. It was almost like my bones were broken.
TIM: All seemed hopeless. But Markís parents also felt they had a promise from God.
LYNN: I was sitting praying, and I said to God, 'I donít want to lose my son.' He spoke back to me and said, 'I lost My son, too.' And I said, 'Yes, You did, but You raised him up again.' And He said, 'Your son shall also live.'
TIM: While in church, Vi heard a story about a master chess player. He was studying a painting called "Check Mate."
VI: He announced, 'This picture is wrong. The king still has one more move.' And then the pastor turned to the audience and said, 'Thereís someone here tonight who thinks theyíre in checkmate, but God wants you to know the King has one more move.'
TIM: Mark got worse. The tumor had grown larger than a softball. He was bedridden and had lost the use of his right arm. The night before his scheduled chemotherapy, Markís faith wavered.
MARK: I was able to hang on to the faith until the very end. I was told by the oncologist, 'You need to start chemotherapy tomorrow. You need to get this going now, if youíre going to have any chance at all.' The night before, I absolutely broke down. I could not hold on anymore.
TIM: Mark sought his fatherís counsel. They prayed. Then in a step of faith, Mark put the decision in Godís hands.
MARK: I said, Iíll give God one more night, but I have to feel significantly better. I have to feel something tomorrow morning or Iím going for the chemo.
TIM: That morning the miracle had begun.
MARK: I had been on morphine for the pain; I had been on an anti-nausea drug; I had been on several other prescription drugs. I felt good enough to not take those drugs, and that was the first time in close to three months that I had not used any painkiller --thatís how dramatic it was.
TIM: That same week he attended a prayer service where God put the finishing touches on Markís healing.
VI: The pain disappeared from the bones almost immediately. Then he was able to eat, and for the first time in six weeks, was able to hold everything down.
TIM: Every symptom completely disappeared, and Mark soon returned to work. The tumor eventually faded away. Just recently he received a complete physical and a clean bill of health. Mark believes that two things brought his healing: faith in God and prayer.
MARK: That was the critical turning point, when I came to the end within myself and I had to go one step further. God saw that and He honored that faith. As far as the power of prayer, it moves mountains, because I came across a big mountain in my life and it was moved and cast into the sea..'
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