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.


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