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Cancer, Life's Challenges

A Cancer Story: The Battle Begins

Cancer is a monster.

With the release of A Thousand Sleepless Nights just two months away my thoughts are turning more and more toward a battle that too many fight. Cancer. The book is about cancer, how it invades and destroys, strikes fear, steals joy, dumps buckets full of anxiety and uncertainty, but ultimately, if you let it, gives the gift of a blessing. In the story, Nena Hutching is a woman who has endured a bumpy but beautiful life living on a thoroughbred farm in northern Virginia. Her life, though, is full of regrets and when she finds out she has cancer those regrets prop themselves up and stare her straight in the face.

Much of the character development is drawn from my own experience with cancer so for the next couple months I want to share some of that journey with you. It’s a story that’s not unlike millions of others who have travelled or are travelling the same road. My story is one of fear and uncertainty and a roller coaster of emotions, but ultimately it’s a story of hope and blessings, of light and glory. It’s a story of God’s grace.

I hope you’ll share these posts with others you know who have experienced cancer, whether personally or through a loved one or friend. They may find some comfort in knowing they aren’t/weren’t alone in their battle. And I welcome comments, experiences, questions. I’d love to know how others were feeling, how they coped, where they found strength, normalcy, hope.

My story began in early 2008 with bleeding where it shouldn’t be. Over the course of a few weeks it got heavier and heavier until I finally saw the family doctor who referred me for a colonoscopy. We were both thinking a mild case of colitis. Imagine my surprise when the gastroenterologist showed me color photos of a tumor the size of a golf ball residing in my colon. The thing looked hideous, like a monster with a will of its own. He said he took a biopsy and would notify me as soon as the results came in. A couple days later I got the call at work.

“Michael,” he said, “I’m very sorry but you have colon cancer.”

I didn’t know what to say so I thanked him and hung up the phone. I called my wife, Jen, and told her what he’d said then finished my work day and headed home. I was numb and thinking irriationally, assuming it was just a quick procedure to extract the tumor and be done with the little monster inside me. No more cancer. Have a nice life.

That evening we argued. Jen couldn’t understand why I wasn’t more upset; I didn’t understand why she was so upset.

Neither of us had any idea of the storm that was brewing just over the horizon and how much we would need each other in the next ten months.

You’re invited to share your own experience with diagnosis here, whether you’re a survivor or know a survivor. Please share these posts. I’d love to get a small community of survivors and caregivers/friends/loved ones involved in this discussion.


About michaelkingbooks

I write stories of faith and family, love and loss, heartache and triumph. Here I blog about faith, relationships, and genuine living.


5 thoughts on “A Cancer Story: The Battle Begins

  1. Mike – I expect this is difficult for you to write. Thank you for your courage in sharing the “roller coaster of emotions” with us all. I look forward to the future posts and the release of ATSN.

    Blessings Mike.. Ian

    Posted by Ian | August 6, 2012, 6:48 am
  2. I was touched by your writing today. I cried a lot when I read it, but cannot comment. Too many thoughts and questions entered my mind. I would be writing for an hour. Just know I am praying a lot for you and maybe when I read the book a lot of my questions will be answered.

    Posted by Terri Conrad | August 6, 2012, 10:00 pm
  3. My first awareness of cancer was during my teen years. My grandma had breast cancer. I cared for her. She told me that once you have pain from cancer, that is it and you are going to die. She and all her sisters died of breast cancer. Her brother died of stomach cancer. My mom had 6 siblings. Of the seven children she is the only one who has not had cancer. I felt that I would probably fall victum to breast cancer. 20 years ago my mamagram showed a “suspecious” lump. It was large, it was removed, biopsied. It had every characteristic except cancer. I thought I would just be super vigilant about mamagrams and all would be fine. I was to find out how wrong I was.

    Three years ago I experienced post-menopausal bleeding. This wasn’t a first. It had happened before and was an infection that a few pills from the Dr. cured. I call and asked for a script. The nurse called back and said that the Dr wanted me to come in right away for an exam. The Dr. sent me to the ob/gyn. He scheduled a biopsy and dnc. When he came into the OR he looked at me and asked, “are you bleeding now?” To which I replied,”No” He asked, “Then why are we doing this?” My reply, “Because Dr. C said we had to.” He would later regret his words. Odd what you remember. He had just delivered a baby boy right before the proceedure.

    A few days later I was a my pcp’s office for another med. problem. She walked into the room, sat down, and said, “It’s cancer.” At first didn’t understand or comprehend what she was talking about. That moment is totally frozen in my mind. It was like someone took a picture and permanently planted it in my mind. my life began to stand still. To this day I see every detail, what I was wearing, what she was wearing, every detail of the room itself. From that moment on, my mind was focused on getting the monster out of my body.Several days after that appointment I went to the ob/gyn for my follow up. He came into the room with a very serious look on his face. Sat at his desk and looked at me. I told him the pcp had given my the diagnosis and I was there to find out what came next. He let out a sigh of relief. He told me that he was worried about telling me after being so flip in the OR. Roni was with me at that appointment and those to follow. Cancer effects your ability to take everything in.
    He sent me to the genecological oncologist. I began to learn the language of cancer….phase, stage, options,sponge vac …. Next question how do you tell your loved ones you have cancer? The journey had begun…..that is another story ….roller coaster of emotions,doubts, fears, and the peace and grace that can only come from our Loving Lord

    Posted by JAYNE CABLE | August 6, 2012, 10:34 pm


  1. Pingback: A Cancer Story: Thoughts of Death « Michael King - August 8, 2012

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What readers are saying about A THOUSAND SLEEPLESS NIGHTS . . .

I have not been so deeply and utterly moved by a book in a very long time. A Thousand Sleepless Nights is a powerful and gripping novel that moved me greatly.
--Susan S.

A Thousand Sleeples Nights left me speechless as my heart and mind reconciled dealing with the trauma of cancer and a lifetime of regrets and finding God in the midst of it all. Sometimes a diagnosis of cancer can be God’s redemption.
--Jill J.

An emotionally steeped blessing of a story. One that pulled at my heart with one hand while holding a convicting mirror in the other.
--John U.

Great job. I hope and pray this book does for others what it did for me.
--Terri C.

I read A Thousand Sleepless Nights twice because it was that good. A very emotional story of a dysfunctional family, cancer, redemption and healing.
--Pat R.

I can really see how [this book] will be a blessing to many who have to face the devestation of cancer and loss.
--Tina H.

A Thousand Sleepless Nights will tug at your deepest emotions as it unfolds the evil of cancer and the power of relationships. The characters are endearing, real and relatable, as is the true battles they fight: illness, apathy, love, commitment and balancing life. King's novel strikes a vein, and sends hope to the heart of the matter--a fine read for anyone in need of healing.
--Donnalynn D.

This is a stirring novel that paints a great picture of cancer and its effects on not only those who have it, but their families and friends.
--Mark B.

A Thousand Sleepless Nights moved me so deeply I could not leave it alone until I’d read it completely. This bittersweet tale of illness--both physical and emotional--and the way lives are ultimately changed by its effects makes it a story for everyone, especially for those struggling to find forgiveness and healing.
--Claudette W.

A Thousand Sleepless Nights is a novel that touches you on a deep emotional level. It is a beautiful story about surviving, suffering, and what the true meaning of love is and how cancer, while devastating, can pull together a family torn apart by a past of neglect. A beautiful masterpiece!
--Joshua R.


August 2012
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