Survival Mode

Spencer first discovered his mother had cancer when he was only 10 years old. Since then, his mom has been diagnosed with three other types of cancers and has spent 15 years of life in battle with her own body. “Since that first cancer, my mother has been diagnosed with skin, colon and most recently, kidney cancer. At each stage, God has provided and we have made it through–although not without struggles.”

Shortly after Spencer graduated college in Santa Barbara, complications arose following his mother’s third battle with cancer during her colon post-op. “I received a phone call from my brother, saying that things were not going well.” Spencer was brought to his knees in prayer, “I sat there picturing every worst possible outcome. I don’t often assume a literal posture of prayer, but that night all I could do was give my fear to the Lord to handle.”

Eventually, news came that his mom had beaten the odds yet again. Spencer and his family were once again embraced by the hope of more days to share together.

Spencer 3

Not long afterwards, Spencer moved back to the Northwest and his family was blessed with a cancer-free period. An abnormal state for him and his family, Spencer was surprised to see his faith weakening instead of strengthening. “I began to slide into a sort of spiritual complacency. I began to get lost in the rhythm of the routine,” Spencer said. “The further removed from adversity I was, the easier it was for me to lose sight of the role God continued to play in my life.”

During that distant season, Spencer’s bank account began to struggle. He knew he needed to find more work to cover the additional costs of grad school. “I wasn’t sure I could find work that would fit in with the oddness of my school schedule.” He prayed a simple prayer for God to open doors and the response felt immediate. “All of a sudden I was a caterer, a manual laborer and a substitute teacher at a private school. Although God didn’t magically add zeros to my bank account, he provided a clear and deliberate answer to prayer.”

Outside of his mother’s cancers, it was the first time he had to personally rely on Jesus. “I’m a pretty independent person, and always felt like I could handle things on my own. To have my emotional and financial stability provided by my Heavenly Father, it refreshed and imbibed my stale spirituality with a new sense of awareness.”

Mom, brother and I

One week later he received a call from his father that the doctors had found a mass on his mother’s kidney and they were positive it was cancer. “The news hit me hard. My mom had survived cancer three times, could she make it a fourth?”

In the face of yet another unhinging season, Spencer was able to accept Christ’s tender care in ways he hadn’t before. “I believe God tangibly showed himself to me in my finances so that I was able to hold perspective and hope during this next round of cancer. What I began to realize was that He had shown himself to be faithful, and I found I could be faithful as well.”

The next few weeks Spencer experienced a surreal peace beyond understanding. “In the midst of this storm of life, it was weird to look up and have faith it was going to be OK. It felt as if I had a life raft that couldn’t be sunk, no matter how big of waves crashed onto it. I felt compelled to tell my mom this at one point, and she confided she was feeling something similar this time around too.”

Spencer 2

Ultimately, Spencer’s mother survived her surgery and is, for the fourth time, cancer free. However, his life will never be fully freed from the looming presence of potential health scares.

“Cancer is a part of our narrative; for my brother and me it’s a genetic inevitability. For my Dad, it’s an everyday fear. For my mom, it's a large part of her history. Cancer is scary. It is ugly. It is painful. But God does not exist in the realm of the rational. For me, freedom in Christ means freedom from fear and that I can always rely on the comfort found in the warm embrace of God.”

Spencer first discovered his mother had cancer when he was only 10 years old. Since then, his mom has been diagnosed with three other types of cancers and has spent 15 years of life in battle with her own body. “Since that first cancer, my mother has been diagnosed with skin, colon and most recently, kidney cancer. At each stage, God has provided and we have made it through–although not without struggles.”

Shortly after Spencer graduated college in Santa Barbara, complications arose following his mother’s third battle with cancer during her colon post-op. “I received a phone call from my brother, saying that things were not going well.” Spencer was brought to his knees in prayer, “I sat there picturing every worst possible outcome. I don’t often assume a literal posture of prayer, but that night all I could do was give my fear to the Lord to handle.”

Eventually, news came that his mom had beaten the odds yet again. Spencer and his family were once again embraced by the hope of more days to share together.

Spencer 3

Not long afterwards, Spencer moved back to the Northwest and his family was blessed with a cancer-free period. An abnormal state for him and his family, Spencer was surprised to see his faith weakening instead of strengthening. “I began to slide into a sort of spiritual complacency. I began to get lost in the rhythm of the routine,” Spencer said. “The further removed from adversity I was, the easier it was for me to lose sight of the role God continued to play in my life.”

During that distant season, Spencer’s bank account began to struggle. He knew he needed to find more work to cover the additional costs of grad school. “I wasn’t sure I could find work that would fit in with the oddness of my school schedule.” He prayed a simple prayer for God to open doors and the response felt immediate. “All of a sudden I was a caterer, a manual laborer and a substitute teacher at a private school. Although God didn’t magically add zeros to my bank account, he provided a clear and deliberate answer to prayer.”

Outside of his mother’s cancers, it was the first time he had to personally rely on Jesus. “I’m a pretty independent person, and always felt like I could handle things on my own. To have my emotional and financial stability provided by my Heavenly Father, it refreshed and imbibed my stale spirituality with a new sense of awareness.”

Mom, brother and I

One week later he received a call from his father that the doctors had found a mass on his mother’s kidney and they were positive it was cancer. “The news hit me hard. My mom had survived cancer three times, could she make it a fourth?”

In the face of yet another unhinging season, Spencer was able to accept Christ’s tender care in ways he hadn’t before. “I believe God tangibly showed himself to me in my finances so that I was able to hold perspective and hope during this next round of cancer. What I began to realize was that He had shown himself to be faithful, and I found I could be faithful as well.”

The next few weeks Spencer experienced a surreal peace beyond understanding. “In the midst of this storm of life, it was weird to look up and have faith it was going to be OK. It felt as if I had a life raft that couldn’t be sunk, no matter how big of waves crashed onto it. I felt compelled to tell my mom this at one point, and she confided she was feeling something similar this time around too.”

Spencer 2

Ultimately, Spencer’s mother survived her surgery and is, for the fourth time, cancer free. However, his life will never be fully freed from the looming presence of potential health scares.

“Cancer is a part of our narrative; for my brother and me it’s a genetic inevitability. For my Dad, it’s an everyday fear. For my mom, it's a large part of her history. Cancer is scary. It is ugly. It is painful. But God does not exist in the realm of the rational. For me, freedom in Christ means freedom from fear and that I can always rely on the comfort found in the warm embrace of God.”