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.


Light the Night

September 13, 2002|

NOTE: Make sure to watch “Good Morning America” on ABC on Tuesday, September 17, 2002 from 6-9AM. I’ll be in the audience along with others from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society promoting “Light the Night.” (

September 11, 2002

I didn’t plan on writing anything today. There is already information and media overexposure going on. Why contribute to the madness?

But the wind. The wind today is like nothing I’ve seen in my two years in New York City. It is omnipresent.

I walked on the patio this morning to a stiff breeze swirling the branches of the oaks overhead. While rollerblading later on in the park, I was pushed to my utmost limit as I skated straight into gust upon gust. There was no escape as it seemed to be blowing from every direction. Watching TV this afternoon, a dust-storm brewed in the pit where the World Trade Center once stood. The characteristically composed reporters at Ground Zero struggled to be heard as their microphones picked up nothing but the wind whistling by.

Is this wind, this draught, this squall really a coincidence? Is it there to remind us that there are matters, occurrences and events we will never understand? Is it a gentle reminder today to help us recall our purpose in life? Is it a reminder that something, Someone, is in charge? Is it a memorial- a heavenly memorial?

‘My heart is in anguish within me;

The terrors of death assail me.

Fear and trembling have beset me;

Horror has overwhelmed me.

I said, ‘Oh, that I had the wings of a dove!

I would fly away and be at rest-

I would flee far away

And stay in the desert;

I would hurry to my place of shelter

Far from the tempest and the storm.’

-Psalm 55:4-8

‘I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.’

-Ecclesiastes 1:14

‘Who has gone up to heaven and come down? Who has gathered up the wind in the hollow of his hands?”

-Proverbs 30:4

‘They were terrified and asked each other, ‘Who is this? Even the wind and waves obey Him!’

-Mark 4:41

‘Can you see God? You ever seen him? I’ve never seen the wind, but I’ve seen the effects of the wind, there’s a mystery to it…’

– Billy Graham

September 9, 2002

Ante Up

Did you ever make a promise to do something and then completely forget about it? Did you then emphatically deny any such promise was made, only to have it subsequently shoved back in your face with a written document? Wasn’t it such a beat-down?

Back in February, in the middle of my transplant, I sent out a flurry of thank you notes to various individuals who contributed vast amounts of time, effort and resources. Included in that category was my brother Billy. He was the most important of the contributors- for obvious reasons. I must have been in some sort of chemotherapy drug-induced haze when I wrote his note because a month later Billy asked me (voice-cracking and all) ‘Where’s my steak dinner? You promised me a steak dinner!’

I retorted, ‘You’re smoking crack! I never promised you a steak dinner! Crack smoker!’

Billy deviously grinned. He sprinted to his room and returned with a piece of paper. ‘Thank for your saving my life. I owe you a steak dinner…Art.’ He gleefully read.

‘Dang!’ Caught red-handed.

My mom let out a loud whoop that the neighbors could hear.


On September 20, 2002, an assorted group of friends, family and myself will gather at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse to recommence the ‘Celebration’ Dinner. (You are certainly welcome to attend, just RSVP with me.) Billy will be leaving class early, making the trek from Philadelphia to Manhattan, in order to feast on a free filet. Maybe I’ll even pay for his fixins and creme brulee. At least he doesn’t have that in writing…I hope.

Speaking of Steak…

At my last doctor’s appointment, Dr. Perales, after giving me the great news, proceeded to scold me. And you wouldn’t believe why. Can you believe I was scolded for eating TOO healthy?

This summer I made a determined effort to eat healthy. No more sugar. No caffeine. Vegetables. Fresh fruit. Few carbohydrates. Lots of white meat. If any man were going to keep this cancer away with nutrition, it would be me.

At least that’s what I thought.

In the meanwhile I didn’t gain an ounce. I actually lost weight, falling to an all time Art-low. I was down to my junior high school weight. “You look like an anorexic Calvin Klein model.”

Once Dr. Perales uncovered the reasoning beyond my low weight- he gave it to me good. He abused me like a red-headed step child. None of the books, articles and reports I had read were scientifically true he said. All of the hype about blueberries, green tea and broccoli were just that- hype. Not an ounce of scientific proof verified that such foods are anti-cancer. And sugar- it has never been scientifically confirmed to increase cancer cells. He let me have it good. My parents sat by, nodding their heads in approval. ‘How could you believe such tomfoolery?’

‘But in Lance Armstrong’s book…and in that Nutritionist’s Guide to Cancer book…and in…’

So now I am on a new diet. It’s called the ‘Eat Anything Diet.’ I find foods I like and I eat them. Even better, it’s doctor recommended and approved.

I still generally stay away from caffeine and sugar, they make me even more jittery than normal. Otherwise, I am loading up on protein shakes, steak, chicken, grilled corn, grilled bananas (my Brazilian roommate’s favorite- don’t ask- it tastes like Elmer’s paste), pasta, ice cream, burgers, fries, pizza, burritos…I’m going to town.

Thanks to all for your wonderful words of encouragement. The road to recovery is long, arduous and filled with potholes. Thank you for fixing my flats, furnishing fuel and wiping my windshield. It’s been a blessing.