Category Archives: My Story

My Story – Part IV

Art’s Story IV version 1.18.03

The Fall

I don’t know if I could count the hours I spent at Starbucks with my laptop plotting to write about the next saga in my life, or as I entitle them, Art’s Life. Every week I would sit down, gazing at the computer screen, trying to come up with something of substance. I had plenty of material. I was always getting into some mis-adventure filled with a learning point or two. It was the timing, though, that was the issue. I never felt comfortable writing a definitive work that would always be within arm’s link on the web site till I answered one question; would I be healthy or not? Would my next tests and scans be clear or would the cancer have returned again? Fearful of being overconfident but also fearful of being under confident, I waited.

Don’t get me wrong. I wasn’t sitting on my hands all fall waiting for something to happen. The fall was good to me. After languishing all summer underweight with strange ailments and hurts, September arrived with optimism. My latest scans, in the month of August, were clear. I personally was insistent that something was wrong, based on aches and pains lurking around my body. But I was wrong. Nothing. Remission.

I was able to return to a normal routine. I started gaining weight and putting back on the muscle I had lost over the past two years. I was able to play tag football and basketball again. I didn’t have to go to the hospital but once a month. I wasn’t tired all the time. My hair returned dark, curly and unruly- a pleasant surprise. I felt great. More remarkably I felt healthy for the first time in years. Like all young men, I was starting to feel that air again, the air of invincibility. I was returning to myself.

Most notably I started to concretely plan for my future. That may seem strange to you, given that most people plan job changes, weddings, and vacations months, even years, in advance. I had always taken such thinking for granted in the past. For the past two years though, I had lived on a month (and sometime week-by-week) calendar, where at an instant anything and everything could change. For once I was able to think about returning to work, finding a career and moving forward, looking to the future.

After many years of contemplating it, I applied to Seminary and was later accepted. Given my talents, gifts, interests and passions- I knew what I wanted to do with my life. Excitedly, I was looking forward to starting school in June 2003. Before then, I was going to move home to Ohio, save money, intern at a church, work a little and take distance-learning classes to get a jump on school. It was exciting, so exciting. No longer, when I asked what do I do, would I have to tell someone ‘Ah yeah, I’m a disability retiree…’

So when my scans in November came up, I wasn’t nervous at all. Why would I? I felt great. Everyone, including myself, was expecting great news. A few nights before the tests and scans, though, one of my closest friends asked the question that to this day still haunts me. ‘What happens if they’re not clear? What happens if it shows the cancers back?’ I hadn’t thought of that. No way. I was feeling too good. I was feeling healthy. I didn’t have an answer.

The scans returned with a strange result. I knew something was up when the PET Scan showed activity. It wasn’t till a few days later when I felt something brewing in my body. Literally overnight, a few lymph nodes popped up in my groin area. They didn’t stop growing. The pain increased as the nodes pressed against muscles in my legs. I knew it. The cancer was back. And I wasn’t prepared. It was the Fall. It was a fall.

‘I Don’t Know’

It’s a freezing cold day here in Youngstown. As I glance out the window of the Barnes and Noble, sipping my bitterly strong mocha I reflect over the past six weeks and see a blur, of pain and painkillers, of darkness and depression, of confusion and acceptance.

I was pretty much devastated when I learned of the relapse. Why, when everything was starting to go so right, did I have my legs kicked from under me? It felt like a kick in the teeth from God. It was like a betrayal from my best bud. I had been through relapses before, but this one- this was (and is) it. I’m out of options. I can’t do any more chemotherapy or transplants. Very few therapies exist for someone in my situation, especially because I have Hodgkin’s Disease, one of the most treatable of the cancers. Because of its treatability, few new treatments exist for patients who relapse. The situation, my situation, had become that much more serious. Pick the sports analogy of your choice- it’s the bottom of the ninth, it’s the fourth quarter, it’s the last lap…time was and is running short and something, someone has got to come through in the clutch. It’s time.

Because of such a situation, I have had to wrestle with life’s toughest questions. It hasn’t been easy and even now I am constantly plagued.

  • Am I allowed to be down and depressed?
  • What really is faith?
  • What really is optimism?
  • How do I, Art, practically live, keeping an eye toward the future, yet knowing death is potentially looming overhead?
  • How do you deal with people in my predicament? How do I approach relationships and friendships? What do I say? What do you say?
  • How can there be a good God- given how my situation has played out on a mirco-level, and how the events of the world have played out on a macro-level?

I’ve thought long and hard. I’ve talked and question. I’ve researched and read (I’m such a geek). What have I found out? What did I discover? I don’t know. The more I find answers to the above questions the more questions that appear from those answers. Like a wet bar of soap which I think I have a hold on, the tighter I hold onto my pre-conceived answers, the farther the soap flies out of my hands. Whoever the sage was, he was right- the older I do get, the less do I know. I have written at one time or another on some of these and other topics. My answers have changed for some. Others they have stayed the same. Regardless, I most of the time don’t know the answer, or don’t know the full answer. (I’ve put up further links in elaboration of some of these topics on the previous web page…)


I’m not a psychologist nor do I have the necessary resources to write a great treatise on sadness, depression, and despair or faith and optimism. I will write this though, I think it is utterly natural and OK, to an extent. Emotions go in cycles and it’s OK to have a down day.

The frustrating thing is that most people don’t want to read that from me. They want inspiration for their day; they want optimism from me in my updates. Look, I don’t get fired up about too many things, but this gets my butt a-boiling.

Nothing drives me more nuts than hypocrites and fakes. We all know them. Everything is always great, no matter the circumstance. They could have a knife wound in their chest and all would be well. Puh-lease. I want to shake such people and say ‘BE REAL!’ Such people are one-dimensional in my mind, cartoon characters, afraid of what people will think. That’s not me and I will never portray that. If I’m down and I write about it, then so be it.

It reassures and helps me when I know people are struggling with their emotions and their situations. It reminds me that we are all in the same boat- we all have issues to deals with and therefore we can all be there for each other in those times. I find many more people try to create this aura of invincibility that they want people to be impressed with. Personally, I much prefer the company of someone I identify with than someone I idolize.

Faith and Optimism

As for faith and optimism, I am finding more and more that there is much much more involved in actually having true faith and true optimism. I find most people are blindly faithful and blindly optimistic. What does that mean? I find most people choose to ignore the whole of a situation. In doing so, they don’t understand the odds, the gritty realism of the situation. They’re not actually optimistic, they’re naive!

What is real faith and optimism? It’s believing despite knowing the full situation, the full odds, the complete story. It’s much tougher than I ever thought. I don’t know how to move up the optimism ladder. I’m working on it myself. I don’t know how to completely increase my faith. I wish there was an instruction manual.


How do I live ultimately for the present, but with an eye toward a future that may never happen? I don’t know. It’s an incredibly difficult balance that I have definitely not mastered. But, in the midst of talking about this with a friend, he said, ‘Ideally, shouldn’t we all live like that though?’


A friend e-mailed last week, confused as what to say to me and therefore she just stopped all communication with me. I replied, ‘I don’t know how to react to you. I don’t know what you are feeling toward me, so don’t worry.’

Good God?

I don’t know completely, but I can’t help but think of the phone call I received today. An elderly neighbor, Mrs. Suhy, called looking for my mom. When she found it was me and heard my voice she almost started to cry. I hadn’t talked to her in two years. She exclaimed how she prays for me everyday and that she knows God is with me. She then tells me of her sister. ‘My sister oh she loved you. She was in her eighties and couldn’t leave the house. She would pester me every single day, asking, ‘How’s Art doing? How’s Art doing?’ And every night she would watch Mass on TV and take part, offering the Mass up for you. (by now she was crying) She died in August…’

Who was I to deserve this? I had never even met her sister. Goodness. I couldn’t help but think that if someone on earth can love me that much, and never have even met me, how much more would a God, who intimately knows me, love and care for me and therefore know what’s best for me. And if He knows what’s best for me, He ultimately has in mind that my good.

Yeah. I get anxious and distraught. Why does it seem like God is inactive, as thousands of you are praying out there? Why doesn’t He do anything? I don’t know, but I know He’s good.


I don’t know. ? I don’t know what will become of Frederick Arthur Canning III. I do know, though, that all I have is today and that I need to constantly remind myself to appreciate it. I’m not good at it; I’ll admit it. You think I would be by now, especially after all I’ve been though. But I’m human. I forget. And that’s why I need you. That’s why we need to each other- to remind ourselves of what’s important in life. Bono sang it best:

‘And love is not the easy thing

The only baggage you can bring…

And love is not the easy thing….

The only baggage you can bring

Is all that you can’t leave behind…’

My Story – Part III

Art’s Story Part III

I had had a remarkable past few months come Winter 2001. On January 20, a small gathering of family friends to help support some of the costs of my dealings with cancer morphed into a full size benefit gala, filled with hundreds of volunteers and thousands of participants, all coming to support me. To this day, people in Youngstown still talk about “The Benefit.” It was more than a benefit; it was reunion, from what I hear (I wasn’t even there!) that could never ever again be recreated. For Christmas, I received a quilt fashioned with squares designed by friends, family and co-workers from across the country. This very Web site grew to from friends and family to cult status. If I didn’t have someone’s picture on it who I knew, I was accosted. If I didn’t do an update when I promised, I was barraged with emails. The site had become a beast. A good beast.

February 2001. I was living at home in Ohio recovering from my stem cell transplant when I knew something was up. I’ve lived with Hodgkin’s Disease for a year now. I knew it well, like an old friend. I woke up one morning and had this pain in my upper back. It was a strange pain, not easily describable. Simply I could feel something wrong in my spine and it was causing the radiating feeling around the area. It was then I understood that the stem cell transplant hadn’t worked.

I didn’t necessarily want to admit it. Who would? As the weeks progressed new pains flared in my left leg and lower back. I hoped, we all hoped, it was a ruptured disk or some lower back problem. Then on April 7th, I felt it. I was waiting at the check out counter for the cashier to return my credit card when I casually ran my fingers up my jaw line and felt the lump at the end of the bone. That was no ordinary lump. That was a lymph node. The cancer was officially back, no doubt.

Knowing the cancer had returned and accepting that the cancer had returned were two entirely different things. Emotionally, it took time to accept. After all of that sickness, hospitalization, pain, frustration, we still had not killed it. On top of that, why? Why couldn’t I get on with my life? Why couldn’t I beat this thing? Why would I have to do all this over again? For weeks I wrestled with those questions trying to make sense of it all. I couldn’t; it simply was too much. I was miserable. I was in pain (and when I wasn’t, I was a zombie from the painkillers). I was depressed.

Now, I knew what I had to do. I had to make that choice- that difficult choice that I had made twice before. I had to accept the hand that had been dealt to me and use it to continue to play in the game of life.

So one day, after sleeping the whole Sunday before, I did. I consciously made the decision to move on and suck it up. From then on, I just deal with it. It’s part of my life. Sometimes, I even forget I have it. I have become so accustomed to pain and taking pills that I take them for granted. It’s part of life…for me.



I keep coming back to the theme of choice, but it so important. In every situation that appears in life, we have a choice to make. Echoing my strong belief is Professor Dumbledore, famed good wizard in the Harry Potter series. After Harry discovers that he and the evil Lord Vordemort share many of the same powers, Dumbledore exhorts Harry “It is our choices, Harry, that show who we truly are, far more than our abilities.” (Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, page 333) The more I live, the more I see that this is true. We decide how to use the talents we are given. We decide how hard we work. We decide who are friends are. We decide what to make of our lives. We decide how to handle adversity. No matter what the psychological community says, it is not our parents’ fault. It is our fault. Our choices ultimately come down to us.


Having moved back home, I have had the opportunity to meet many new people. In the process, they know nothing about my situation or me. Typically people are on their best behavior around me, but new people, they don’t know any better. So anyway, I internally chuckle when I hear people lamenting to the point of death about the cold they are so desperately battling or that pesky wart that will not go away or not being able to play softball because of the hangnail on their toe or that person who is making their life miserable. I laugh for two reasons. 1. That used to be me. 2. Their problems are so miniscule compared to mine that they would be embarrassed if they knew whom they were talking to. That doesn’t mean that I don’t identify and empathize with them. It just means that my perspective on health and on life is so different that the little things that used to bother me don’t. Who cares if the newspaper is an hour late? Will getting upset over it do any good?

One of the amazing transformations that occurred before my very eyes was that of the city of New York. On September 10, New Yorkers were swearing at the subway for being late, cursing the deli man for putting too much mustard on the corn beef on rye, and complaining over the faltering NASDAQ. On September 11, New Yorkers were thankful for just being alive. For the whole next week (and I imagine still to this day), New York was as quiet and friendly as small town, Ohio. People were somber and respectful. Everyone was helping each other. Groups that hated each other one minute were comforting each other the next. Why? Perspective, perspective, perspective.

I believe there are two ways that we learn in life. The first is by practice and/or repetition (i.e. learning a new language, writing out the words over and over). The second is by a major life experience or test (i.e. when you were a little tyke, your mom said don’t touch the hot stove. You did and burned yourself. Consequently you never touched the hot stove again). Some of us have gained our perspective on life by that major life experience. Others have learned through simple practice. What will it take for you to have a new perspective on life?

Who is Ultimately In Charge?

I love reading the story of Lance Armstrong. He battles cancer. He beats it. He trains hard. He wins three straight Tour de France cycle races. But I do have a slight beef with his story. All of the pundits say, ìHis strong competitive spirit, his persevering spirit and his unrelenting will allowed him to beat cancer… Is that correct though? I don’t believe so. I know plenty of people who are as competitive, as persevering, and as unrelenting as Lance Armstrong who died from cancer. Why didn’t they survive? Were they not strong enough? Am I not strong enough? Am I not competitive enough? It’s hard for me to believe that. God is in charge. You can differ with me on the statement all you want, but it is what I believe. He heals who He wants, when he wants. He calls home who he wants, when He wants. For me, only He knows what will happen, and I am content with that. I will still be optimistic, I will still enjoy life, but I will also know who’s ultimately in charge.


My Story : Part II

It has been a desire of mine to make this website for two years now, but I have put it off, put it off, put it off…. then finally it took a lot of inspiration and a little disease to break out of the procrastination cycle.

You may have come here because I hounded you to visit my site ( in my best radio voice, “…check out for all the latest info…”), or because a friend told you to see the site, or because you did a search for Hodgkin’s disease and this came up, or you did a search for hot single Wharton graduates and…you get my point.

First, to give a little background information, I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma on February 16, 2000. I then did 12 weeks of Stanford V chemotherapy at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP), timing it exactly so that I graduated the same weekend I received my last treatment. On June 13, 2000, I started radiation treatment on my chest and neck at University Hospital (UH) in Cleveland. That treatment took about five weeks. After a three-week recovery period, I started work in New York City at Goldman, Sachs and Co. as an analyst in the firm wide training and development group.

A little less than two months later I had my first check-up at HUP, where it was discovered that the cancer had returned. I have a few more tests to take at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) here in New York City and from there the doctors will have a better idea of treatment for this next battle in the war. Most likely it will be more chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant.

A lot of my friends and family have had a tough time digesting this next round of treatment. I thought, just as everybody else, that I would be done. The chemotherapy was very intense the first time, the radiation was incredibly hard, and if anything survived, we would be amazed. But some cancer cells survived and have since spread. I have received a lot of calls and e-mails lamenting the fairness of this all, why would God put me through this again and just some general feeling of injustice.

I have a couple answers for all of this, and they are not easy to want to believe. (This not only applies to my current situation, but it applies to every situation that you and I are in.)

First, I believe in God. Not just any God, but the One who came down to earth, lived the perfect life, died the perfect death despite, beat death and rules completely up in heaven. Believing this, understanding that God died for me and for the sins of the earth, I am assured of meeting Him someday in the most glorious of places. You can totally not believe this. It is up to you and you alone, and only you will be able to know if you really believe and live it. You can totally not believe this. For me, though, I would rather have this Guy on my side, then not have Him on my side. I would love to put an atheist in my place for a day and see how long he or she survives on his or her own.

Second, I don’t believe that God makes mistakes, or absentmindedly forgets about certain people on earth like the argument presented in the popular book When bad things happen to good people by Rabbi Kushner. If God has the power to create everything and is omnipotent, I don’t think anything will escape his sight. Instead I think that all that happens in life happens for reason. Many times it is easy to see the short term hurt, suffering, heartache and pain in the world without looking at the long term good. I could give plenty of examples, but I’ll let you explore the Web site to find’em in my own life and in the other’s lives. I love the quote I had up here before from Dr. James Montgomery Boice,

“If does something in your life, would you change it? If you’d change it, you’d make it worse. It wouldn’t be as good. So that’s the way we want to accept it and move forward, and who knows what God will do?”.

Third, we have a choice.

1. We can sit here and look at the short-term situation, complaining about having to go through these hard times again, brooding around and being depressed.


2. We can take what God gives us and live it, finding the hope and joy that comes out of these situations.
Trust me, the easiest thing to do is to go straight to number 1. I have, I’ll admit it. Nothing devastated me more than hearing on July 4th that I would have to do 5 extra sessions of radiation, and in effect would miss my first day of work. I didn’t speak the entire day I was so upset. I realized now how wasteful that day was and how it further brought down my psyche.

Fourth, is life fair? My goodness no. A lot of folks have said, “Art, it is so unfair! You got a great job, you are by yourself in New York….why did this have to happen to you again?” Life certainly isn’t fair. But the reason I see it not being fair is because I actually get to do this again! I know you are probably saying, “Uh, Art, are your painkillers clouding your thinking? Have you been smoking that Advil? How is it not fair in your advantage?”

It totally is not fair, here’s why. Why should I get this experience? Why should I get this opportunity to fully understand and know who I am? Why did I get this chance to grow and mature faster than any 22-year-old? Why did I get this chance to see the awesomeness of my support system of friends and family? Why did I get this chance to see how important people really are, especially compared to work and studying?

I got a chance to read over my journal from the beginning of the year and found on January 9th this passage that I had written:

“…while reading the story of Joseph (in Genesis), I realize that many of God’s leaders go through an intense period of difficulty and uncertainty, only to eventually come out on top. Have I gone through that? I feel like I have somewhat. But in the same token I want to go through that, so that I can be that kind of man of God…Lord if I need more to increase my faith- bring it on!”

I got what I wanted, not exactly how or what I expected, but I got it. I am just excited to see what’s going to happen in the future. I feel like I am being prepared for something bigger, and this, well, this is a first step on an amazing journey.

And that’s how you can view your life too. You may have cancer too. You may have just gotten kicked out of college. You may have just broken up with your girlfriend/boyfriend. You may have a family member going through tough times. You may have lost your job…

Whatever the case, you can take the easy road and resort to 1. OR you can take the hard road and resort to 2. If you choose 2., believe that it truly can be the first step on an amazing journey.

My Story – Part I

OK, I was your typical Whartonite. I had my cell phone in one hand, my palm pilot in the other, zipping through Steiny-D on any given day. I had my schedule filled every night with cohort meetings and group projects; I had my power lunches and dinners to enhance my contacts. I did the whole recruiting process, and lined myself up for a nice comfy job at an investment bank. I am your typical Whartonite – production-oriented; looking toward the future and invincible…but then comes the 14th floor.

It was a blustery day in the middle of February when the doctors at the student health clinic made an emergency appointment for me to venture up to the 14th floor of the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. A week earlier I had been diagnosed with a kidney stone and four days later I was back in the hospital with a set of lymph nodes running from my shoulder to the back of my neck that protruded out like a miniature set of the Alps.

I got off the elevator at the 14th floor and was hit by a tremendous thud. My heart had just dropped as I looked at the sign in front of me- “Penn Cancer Center.” “I was invincible Art,” I said to myself, “I can’t have cancer.” Sure enough, a week later after an emergency biopsy and a few tests I had discovered I had Hodgkin’s Disease Stage IV- otherwise known as cancer of lymph nodes highly developed.

Since then I endured the rigors of a 12-week (once a week) intensive chemotherapy treatment during the school year and 5 weeks (5 days a week) of radiation therapy after graduating. All invincibility and independence was quashed under the grueling demands of the treatment. During chemo I lost feeling in my fingertips, lost the ability to taste, lost my hair, gained 15 pounds and suffered from severe fatigue, in addition to the many other symptoms. Radiation wasn’t much better. Actually, it was much worse. The radiation burned sores in my throat and stomach, as I ended up losing 25 pounds from it being too painful to eat. The radiation also burnt my hair and skin and I also suffered severe nausea. Any feelings of invincibility quickly left. Nothing makes a man more humble than spending the day with his head hanging over the seat of commode.

But through this all God was there. Despite the intense pain, the sleepless nights, the days of just wanting to die, God was there. His peace and assurance went beyond anything I can humanly describe with words. He let me see the blessing through it all. That is how I saw it and still see it. I was given so many opportunities to see God use others and myself that I am still in awe at how He operates. I have felt such humility to have been chosen to go through the whole experience.

I learned a lot of lessons through it all. One important one was the value of people. Without my family and friends in Crusade, showing the love of Christ to me, I don’t think it would have been such a blessed experience. Nothing will stay with me longer than the times when my Crusade friends showed how important and necessary people are. I’ll never forget walking into the waiting room right before my biopsy and seeing three of my Crusade brothers waiting for me in the waiting room at 6am. Then there were the overwhelming phone calls, emails and care packages I received from Crusaders. Just about every week of my chemotherapy treatments at least one Crusade member would come to keep me company and help harass the nurses. This summer when I was in extreme amounts of pain and needed a sympathetic ear, it never failed that a Crusader would call or email me to see how I was doing. Those things helped to literally keep me alive when I felt I couldn’t keep on going.

I had always prided myself on being independent and focused on getting the work done. But through this I learned the value of relationships and people. My studying, my reading, even my administrative work for Crusade, it wasn’t there for me when I was getting ready for surgery, my Crusade brothers were. So I have softened tremendously. I will always be a Whartonite. I still have the cell phone and palm pilot. I am now working on Wall Street. But my life has changed. That cell and palm are now used to order and call my brothers and sisters and see how they are doing. I am not perfect at it, but I am continuing to learn how to put people first, just like others did for me. And all it took for me was a trip to the 14th floor.

Art’s Testimony at Praise Night

Art’s Testimony at Praise Night – September 14, 2002

I believe inside me lies a repressed teenage girl. Truly. I believe inside me lies a repressed teenage girl….So it comes as no surprise, that’s why I was watching MTV… and it comes as no surprise that I raced to the Circuit City after work one day last year in order to buy a CD…. And it comes as no surprise that I listened to the song over and over and over…

The song…. it was about me, my life, the past year of my life, even my relationship with God….. Yep. God can speak through anything….EVEN MTV.

But let me start from the beginning. It was January 2000. I was in my senior year at the University of Pennsylvania. I was home for Christmas break working on my Senior Thesis at Starbucks. While taking a break from doing my statistical analyses, I was reading Genesis in my Bible.

As I was reading the story of Joseph, I stumbled upon a connection.

I wrote in the margins of my Bible:

‘Lesson: Joseph went through hard times before he saw the fruits of his faithfulness. Others in the Bible had the same (David, Paul, Job, Jesus)

Keeping the faith in hard times is difficult, but eventually God will reward us. All great biblical leaders went through hard times to strengthen their faith. Someday I will too. I want to be God’s leader…’

Three weeks later, I accepted an offer here in the City at an investment bank. I was looking forward to the opportunity, maybe this was to be my hard time?

A few days later after accepting the position, though, I had incredible bout of back pain. After a sleepless night, at 6 in the morning, I staggered out of my dorm and stumbled to the ER. Kidney stones was the diagnosis.

A few days after the incident, a row of lymph nodes popped up along my neck on the left side. Strange. I went to the student health clinic. They were concerned. They thought maybe it was mono. Maybe an infection. They didn’t know.

They sent me for a chest x-ray. They asked about my past. I told them how I had been enduring a lingering cough, an unshakable sore throat and drenching night sweats for the past four months. I thought it was just stress and lack of sleep. But they became very concerned.

The doctors then sent me to see a doctor on the 14th floor of the hospital. ‘They have offices up here?’ I wondered. The student health clinic was in the basement of the building. It was strange, very strange.

As I walked off the elevator, I froze. I couldn’t believe what I was reading. The sign ahead of me couldn’t be right. Was I in the right place? It read ‘Penn Cancer Center.’

Soon thereafter I was diagnosed with Stage IV Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. There is no stage V. I started chemotherapy almost immediately.

I did stay in school, studying during the week, while recovering from my weekly chemotherapy regiment during the weekend. I graduated the same week I finished my last round of chemotherapy. I thought for sure I was cured. There was my hard time.

A few months later, though, in September 2000, I had another encounter with back pain. I thought it was just from being out of shape, but after a CAT Scan, my worse fears were confirmed. The cancer had returned.

Since then I have been through two cycles of chemotherapy, two rounds of radiation, a stem cell transplant, and most recently in February of 2002, a bone marrow transplant.

Since then, I had been carried off to a hospital in an ambulance from my apartment twice because I was in so much pain.

Since then, I’ve spent 90 days in the hospital.

Since then, I had an insurance company refuse to pay for my latest transplant. After a month of wrestling and wrangling they relented and released the funds.

At the age of 24 I’ve had to literally fight for my life… praying to God, praying to Jesus ‘Spare my life. Spare my life.’

But it’s been an incredible journey. I got what I prayed for, in all senses.

And despite the overwhelming pain, sickness and hurt, I would choose to do it all over again. The faith I so desperately wanted has been… and continues to be strengthened.

It has come as a result of my unfaithfulness, my unbelief, my doubting, that God has proven his faithfulness to me. Many times have I given up, only to find He has not given up on me.

In times of need… He’s provided for me when I thought all hope was lost. From an employer with incredible benefits …to an insurance company that has paid nearly all my bills…

to a community in Ohio that staged a gigantic benefit dinner… to a little brother who provided the matching bone marrow…all along the way God has proven faithful to His promise- He always provides when He calls you to do something…

In times of despair, He’s proven faithful to His promise to be there when I needed him most. He lets us enter into the fiery furnace, the lion’s den, the prison, the desert, the valley of the shadow of death, the hospital…BUT He lets us enter in order for us to see and experience that He is there with us. We do not suffer alone.

And in times of utter hopelessness…He showed up in the most remarkable and unique of ways…

whether it be through a Bible verse, a sermon, a card, an email, a friend, a song…a song…

reminding me THAT I NOW have NO choice but to rely completely on Him to keep me alive.

Desperate for changing

Starving for truth

I’m closer to where I started

I’m chasing after you

I’m falling even more in love with you

Letting go of all I’ve held onto

I’m standing here until you make me move

I’m hangin’ by a moment

Forgetting all I’m lacking

Completely incomplete

I’ll take your invitation

You take all of me

I’m living for the only thing I know

I’m running and not quite sure where to go

And I don’t know what I’m divin’ in into

Just hangin’ by a moment here with you…

Thank you Lifehouse!

Last month, for now, he’s answered that prayer. My latest PET and CAT scans came back normal, which means, for now, I’m cancer-free.

And I don’t know what I’m divin’ in into

Just hangin’ by a moment here with you…

Thank you and God bless.


What I have learned so far (in no particular order)…

What I have learned so far (in no particular order)…

– Never pass up a chance to tell a loved one you love them. Nothing is worse than love unknown.

– Time goes by so quickly. So use it.

– Emotions and spiritual experiences go in cycles. They key is not getting too high nor too low.

– Pray first and give firsts of everything to God, He always takes care of the rest.

– Daily reestablishing priorities is important in not getting bogged down in the routine of life.

– Relationships go much farther than work. Work is not there when you are in your hospital bed needing a comforting smile.

– Could family be any more important, yet they are the first we forget about.

– Be passionate about something.

– Be a role model, someone is always watching.

– It is easiest to fall the farthest after reaching the highest peak.

– Always be an encouragement

– Pay a compliment to someone everyday. It’s infectious. It takes a little practice, but
after awhile it catches. Watch it make someone’s day.

– Have fun and outgoing, but be humble- everything can be taken away within a flash.

– When YOU get busy, don’t forget to call and email your friends and family. Make
the time.

– LOVE no matter if and how people respond to you.

– Think about how you treat people who look different than you and remember someday
it could be you on the receiving end.

– Nothing is ever guaranteed, Don’t let your expectations get the best of you.

– Don’t take yourself or any situation too seriously.

– Smile. It works. It’s a natural pick me up.

– Don’t be afraid to pump up the music and shake your booty. It does the body good
every once in awhile. Even you those of us with white man’s disease (can’t jump, can’t dance).

Is Art Crazy?

Is Art Crazy?


Often times I have been called crazy. The following interaction has occurred numerous times. I tell someone that I have been diagnosed with a highly developed form of cancer. They respond the same way- jaw dropped, eyes set straight ahead- a look of shock and sadness set in.

I cheerfully respond, “It’s gonna be OK…I am going to be fine…God’s got my back…”

The look of shock and sadness is replaced by a look of confusion. “Huh? How can you be so OK? ARE YOU SMOKIN’ CRACK? You have cancer? Chemo? Throwing up- hello…?”

“I can’t explain it,” I answer, “but I am going to be OK. No worries.”

The person ends up walking away, obviously deep in thought, thinking of how THEY would react and feel if they were put in the same situation. Scratching their head, they can’t figure out how I can be so positive and peaceful about such a predicament.

That is a scene I have experienced over and over in the past few months. From close friends and colleagues to total strangers, I have had to the break news to a varied group of people, all with similar results. The question remains, though. How can you be so positive and at peace about such a predicament? I guess part of it comes from my nature. I am a highly energetic optimist who loves nothing better than getting in front of crowd and hamming it up. I guess part of it also comes from having an incredibly supportive family and friend base that are totally behind me on every endeavor, and would sacrifice for me without question. I guess another part may come from my studies, having spent a great deal of time studying human psychology and knowing the positive correlation between positive attitude and patient recovery.

But I think those all pale in comparison to the real answer. You can make the judgement after that.


In the fall of 1999, I was in a giant wrestling match. It wasn’t a physical one, nor was it one where you could see the bruises. Rather it was an intellectual wrestling match. It was in the fall of 1999 that I had come to the crossroad – what did I actually believe? I had been raised a Christian my whole life, having grown up in a Christian home. I had ventured off to college and had my fill of the “freshman experience.” I had my fun and made my mistakes, but I never stopped being a Christian. Then sophomore year I started getting more and more involved in Christian ministries at Penn, especially Campus Crusade for Christ. Junior year I got even more involved on a larger basis, co-chairing Penn’s annual Christian Awareness Week, called “Jesus Week.” In addition to that, I was leading the charge to create a Christian umbrella organization, which would help unify Penn’s segregated Christian groups, helping the Chaplain of the University secure a space for all religious groups to meet and working to create dialogue between all of the religious groups on Penn’s campus.

Senior year I was doing more and more of the same, spending more time on these extra-curricular activities than studying. But something happened senior year. I started learning. I started really studying other religions. I started reading and understanding a lot of psychological studies. A lot of what I read made me really question what I was originally taught. A lot of the material was about evolution and the non-existence of a higher power. In the midst of my senior year, I was experiencing doubt about what I really believed.

“Impossible!” I thought. “How could I, a senior leader in Campus Crusade, the lead proponent of the Christian umbrella organization, how could I be having doubts about my faith?”

But the doubts were there. And who could I talk to? No one would understand I thought. Everyone believes so deeply here. These smart kids at Penn, they don’t doubt. So I internalized it, and internalized it, and internalized it. Finally it crept into my everyday living. It was killing me.

Skip ahead to January. I still had my doubts, but I wrote in my journal one day, “…while reading the story of Joseph (in Genesis), I realize that many of God’s leaders go through an intense period of difficulty and uncertainty, only to eventually come out on top. Have I gone through that? I feel like I have somewhat. But in the same token I want to go through that, so that I can be that kind of man of God…Lord if I need more to increase my faith – bring it on!”

A month later one of my best friends severely broke her leg after hitting a patch of ice and skiing directly into a tree. On the drive home from visiting her, I revealed my secret doubts to a friend who had accompanied me on the visit. It was one of those deep conversations you have with someone, where you share something deep and they do the same thing. Total bonding. So anyway, I told her I was having doubts about the existence of God and Jesus and about my faith in Christianity.

She had a simple answer for me – ask God to reveal himself to you. Simple as that. No need to intellectualize, no need to read tons of books, no need to debate with others- just ask God to reveal Himself to you. So I did.

A week later I had the most intense pain I have ever felt in my life in my back. After a 6am visit to the ER I was diagnosed with a kidney stone. The pain was so intense, and there was no stopping it, and I kept on asking for God, and I got no answer. I was heartbroken. When I thought I needed God most, he deserted me and didn’t take the pain away. The next week a row of lymph nodes on my right neck popped up like a mini-mountain range and I went into see more doctors. A few days later I was sent up to the 15th floor of the Penn Tower where I was told I most likely had cancer.

Walking back from that appointment my mind went blank. I had no clue what to think. There was no emotion, no tears, nothing. It was a feeling of total blankness. That night I prayed to God a simple prayer. I just asked that if this was Him, that He take care of me and that it be His will and that He reveal Himself to me. I have never ever slept so well as I slept that night. (And keep in mind that previous that night, I had not slept well in over two months because of night sweats caused by the Hodgkin’s and because of the kidney stone and its pain!)

I woke up the next morning with this amazing feeling, this energy that I cannot do justice with words. I literally felt God inside of me. I felt the peace of a higher presence. I felt the positive energy that would carry me throughout the rest of the school year. I knew deep down that I was going to be all right. So that’s when I started having my conversations with people and telling them that I was going to be OK and that God had my back. I now knew, for sure, three things. I knew there was a God, I knew He had this all planned out, and I knew that I was going to be all right.

Since then I have been through more than I thought I would go through. Despite it all- the surprises, the pain, the sickness, the suffering, the people, the doctors, the nurses, the family members, the friends, the hospitals, the moves, the pills- I know there is God who is on my side. I asked him and looked what happened- He answered me. It wasn’t what I expected or would have thought it would have turned out, but He answered me. It is so cool to have a relationship with the God who created the universe and to know he knows and cares for me! That gives me the hope and peace to get through it all.

Despite the fact that there is a chance I may never be completely cancer-free, I know God is going to take care of me. You too can have an experience like this. Maybe not the whole cancer deal, but a similar experience. If you seek Him, he will allow you to find Him. He will reveal Himself to you. It is up to you to believe it or not. We have a choice. Born in all of us is a desire for something, a desire for something more than is on this earth.

My gosh, we try desperately to fill that desire with things on earth. Awesome jobs, quality vacations, romance, cool SUVs, other people, popularity…none of them work. Me, I’ve been there. I have had great jobs, filled with big bucks and prestige. I went to an Ivy League school. I own the Mars and Venus series and have had my fill of relationships. I have performed and sang solos for audiences of thousands of people around the world. I have worked in professional radio and TV, living a “celebrity” life. All of that stuff was cool in itself but when I look back, it still did not fill that desire in my heart for something more.

C.S. Lewis wrote, “Most people, if they really had learned to look into their own hearts, would know that they do want, and want acutely, something that cannot be had in this world. There are all sort of things in this world that offer to give it to you, but they never quite keep their promise.” i

We discover in this life that the thrills and highs have to become more thrilling and higher to have the same effect. And then the feeling that the grass is always greener on the other side, well, it usually ends up being the same grass. We constantly get disappointed in this life by the things of this world. As I have personally discovered there is only one thing that fills that void. It is a supernatural solution.

French Mathematician/Philosopher Blaise Pascal puts it best. “The infinite abyss (of the heart) can only be filled by an infinite and immutable object, that is, by God himself.” ii

That God, Pascal (and I) recognized is the God who came personally to earth in the form of Jesus Christ to fill that void for us. He came to us! All we have to do is let Him fill that void. By filling the void with Him, we are putting Him and His desires first in our life. We look to Him for our answers, our hopes and our dreams. We no longer rely on our own strength to carry us through hard times. We rely on Him. We accept His forgiveness for our past, present and future sins. We don’t carry the burden of failures and mistakes. We love others and put others ahead of ourselves, just as He loved us.

All it takes is a decision.

Will you let Jesus Christ fill that void in your heart? You may still think I am crazy. Or may be you realize that there is something more to this life that can’t be easily explained or understood, but that you want for your life. Whatever it is, I challenge you to take that dive and find out. I promise you, you will not be disappointed.

For further reading:

Strobel, Lee. The Case for Christ. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 2000

Strobel, Lee. The Case for Faith. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 2000

Lewis, C.S. Mere Christianity. New York: Simon & Shuster, 1952 (link)

Colson, Chuck. How Now Shall We Live? Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishing, 1999

I firmly endorse buying these books at Yes, I own stock in Amazon and it has plummeted! Support them, please! 🙂


  1. Lewis, C.S., Mere Christianity. New  York: Simon & Schuster, 1952, page 120
  2. iPascal, Blaise. Pensees. London: Penguin Books, 1966 (translation)


Art’s Speech for the Banquet – January 20, 2001

Art’s Speech for the Banquet – January 20, 2001

I remember the day I first heard about this banquet dinner thing. I was in a lot of back pain and generally was not having a good day. Late in the afternoon my good friend and webmaster Patrick sent me an e-mail trying to cheer me up talking about some benefit dinner they are conjuring up for me and how loved I am. I didn’t think much of it. Well, now I have and I do. I am overwhelmed by the outpouring of support and love that has gone into this dinner, all simply for me. It overwhelms me all the time. I can’t understand and fathom this all. I didn’t do anything to deserve this. I haven’t seen many of you in years. All I know is that I am one blessed guy.

A year ago at this time I never envisioned all of this. Heck six months I wouldn’t have envisioned all of this. I do know that what I prayed has come true.

It was a blustery day, January 9th. I was enjoying a huge cup of tea at the Barnes and Noble in Boardman reading my Bible when it hit me after reading about many of the Old and New Testament leaders that they all had a singular connection. They had all gone through hard times at some point to test their faith and make them become the strong leaders they were. It was then that I wrote in the margins in my Bible on the last page of Genesis, “..Keeping the faith in the hard times is difficult, but eventually God will reward us, all great biblical leaders went through hard times to strengthen their faith. I will too. I want to be God’s leader.”

A month later I was first diagnosed with Hodgkin’s and the rest is all history (or at least documented on my website,

I don’t know what kind of leader I am going to be. Last year at this time I was content with getting PhD in management, finding a small little college and teaching the rest of my life. Now I realize I have been given a gift that I must use. Not many 22 year olds have been through what I have.

I want to use it for good, to help people, to give them hope, and to lead.

My aspiration in high school was to be President of the United States.

Somewhere along college I lost that idea. Well who knows now?

Through it all I have learned so many lessons, rekindled so many friendships, and have had major personality and life changes that will forever stick. All I can say is thank you for all of your support for my family and me. It has been amazing to see how a community can come together. I only wish someday I can repay you all for your emails, kind words, cards and prayers.

I continually will pray for you all, knowing that God is listening and answering. Thank you all so much. I will see you all soon. I love you all.