An Amazing Story of Beating the Odds






Are you praying for yourself or someone you love to be cured? Are the odds stacked against that prayer? Or have doctors even told you not to expect it to happen?

I have an amazing story for you today about a man who was given no chance for survival, but is still beating the odds.

When my friend Jim was diagnosed with a glioblastoma multiforme (translation—the deadliest brain cancer) in July 2006 at the age of 59, no one gave him much hope. The golf-ball sized tumor affected his left side and he had to learn to walk and talk again after surgery. When the tumor recurred just four months later, no one gave him any hope at all.

But Jim, a Vietnam veteran with two Purple Hearts was desperate to live as he was caring for his wife Jean, who had advanced cancer. When I saw him in our office, he told me the doctors at Hershey Medical Center thought he might have only three months to live. I suggested he “try to defy the verdict” and set some goals for himself.

“What would you like to be alive to see?” I asked him, thinking he’d choose something happening in the next few months.

“I want to see my son Travis graduate from college,” he quickly replied.

“OK,” I said. “What year is he now?”

“A freshman.”

Uh, oh. I suggested that perhaps Jim should pick a closer goal so we could celebrate sooner (while thinking there is NO way this patient is going to be alive in four years!)  So, we decided on his daughter Abby’s wedding in six months. Realistically, there was no reason to expect Jim to live even that short time, but it was a good goal and I told the radiation tech next door that Jim wanted to walk his daughter down the aisle in the spring.

“I don’t think there’s much chance of that after looking at his tumor,” the tech honestly replied.

Jim got radiation and oral chemo, but the mass persisted. Every time I saw him over the next few months, we talked about the impending wedding and prayed for Jim to be there—even if his hair wouldn’t. On May 12, 2007, the prayer was answered and Jim brought me the wedding photos to prove it!

Then a couple months later, he went on a clinical trial drug because there was no other treatment available and set a new goal of holding his son Ryan’s first child due in October. Both Jim and Jean got to hold that little grandson, and an MRI in January showed Jim’s tumor had decreased slightly. But the joy was short-lived as Jean passed away in August 2008. Our clinical staff bemoaned the fact Jean’s four children undoubtedly would be burying both parents in a short span of time. But Jim continued to defy the verdict. He set another goal of seeing Abby’s first child born (she wasn’t even pregnant yet!)

Bi-monthly MRIs continued to show Jim’s tumor shrinking and in May 2009, he joyfully announced that Abby’s little daughter, Lillian Jean had arrived. Then an unexpected joy came: the next month’s MRI showed the tumor was gone! That fall Travis entered his senior year of college and Jim set his sights on seeing that graduation.

In May 2010, despite all odds, Jim was there to watch his youngest son awarded his college diploma.

But then he faced a new problem.

“What’s my goal going to be now?” Jim asked me afterward.

“I guess you need to see Travis get married and have some kids,” I volunteered.

“Sounds good,” he replied.

And Travis did.

And Jim was there.

As I write it’s been almost 11 years since his diagnosis and Jim remains in an unexplained complete remission. I’ve honestly lost track of how many grandkids he has now and I’m thinking we may need to set a goal of him seeing his great-grandchildren!

When Jim was first diagnosed with a brain tumor, he was angry, disappointed and frustrated, especially over the fact he was told he had such a short time to live. What gave him hope, he said, was hearing about others who had survived brain tumors or had lived much longer than doctors expected.

“I thought if they can do it, why can’t I?” he recalls. “I was most thankful for people encouraging me and telling me there was still hope. And without my faith in God, I don’t think I would be here now.”


I can’t promise God will answer your prayers exactly as he did for Jim, but I can promise that He hears the longings of your heart and wants to show you His great love today. He may do the impossible in your or your loved’s one’s situation or He may do the impossible in your hearts about the situation. And as you face an uncertain future, whatever your goals are, “let love be your highest goal” (1 Corinthians 14:1 NLT) and believe that “the impossible is possible with God.” (Luke 1:37 The Voice)


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