It Is Written

Cancer: Friend and Foe

Three Angels Broadcasting Network

Program transcript

Participants: John Bradshaw


Series Code: IIW

Program Code: IIW001368

00:02 ♪ [Dramatic] ♪ ♪ [It Is Written Theme] ♪
00:06 It has stood the test of time
00:11 God's Book, The Bible
00:16 Still relevant in today's complex world
00:21 It Is Written, sharing Hope around the globe
00:34 [Roar of the Ocean] JB: There are some moments in
00:40 your life that you never forget, things you know are going to
00:45 change your life.
00:47 Getting married; the birth of your first child;
00:52 getting the job of your dreams.
00:54 I've experienced l of those things
00:57 and I can't ever forget how I felt at the time.
01:01 But then there are times when your family and your faith
01:05 are all you have to lean on.
01:07 [Suspensful Drone] About 1.6 million Americans are
01:13 diagnosed with cancer every year.
01:17 Lung cancer claims the most lives.
01:21 Cancer is a fact of life.
01:24 Medical experts tell us to eat more fresh fruits and
01:27 vegetables, to exercise well, to eat little or no red meat,
01:32 drink little or no alcohol and quit smoking.
01:36 But when you're relatively young,
01:38 you live a healthy lifestyle, have a positive relationship
01:42 with God, cancer isn't something
01:45 you expect.
01:48 But not long ago I heard words spoken to me that I never
01:52 expected I would ever hear.
01:56 The doctor said to me, "The news isn't good.
02:00 It's cancer."
02:04 Now, that will get your attention really quickly.
02:07 Cancer means you could die.
02:10 Depending on the type of cancer you're diagnosed with, it might
02:13 even mean you are likely to die.
02:16 I have a wife and two younger children, and now I'm learning
02:21 that I could die.
02:24 I'm in my 40s.
02:26 I never need to see a doctor.
02:28 And yet now I could leave my wife a widow
02:31 and my children fatherless.
02:35 Not good.
02:38 Today I want to share some of my experience with you.
02:41 My journey, my still ongoing journey.
02:45 You know, a cancer diagnosis raises a lot of questions, some
02:48 of them pretty big questions.
02:50 Not just questions of treatment options and family
02:53 and life and death but really big-picture questions,
02:57 such as, why me?
03:00 Or, where was God when this happened?
03:02 Why did God allow this to happen?
03:05 What happens now?
03:08 Maybe the biggest question of all,
03:12 where am I going to spend eternity if I die?
03:15 Now that's a big question.
03:17 Now, for me to come down with cancer, you know, cancer is
03:23 something that always happens to other people.
03:25 And now I'm one of the other people.
03:29 I was always strong, never sick, never weak.
03:33 I was raised playing rugby.
03:34 I played rugby into my early 20s.
03:36 That's a man's game.
03:38 I'm not here to tell you I was the hardest guy on the field,
03:41 but that was the orientation of my life.
03:44 Certainly never one to be sick, and now I'm not just sick,
03:49 I have a disease.
03:51 A significant disease.
03:53 I have cancer.
03:56 What's going to happen now?
03:57 Well, let me tell you this.
04:00 One thing I've discovered along the way, and I want to encourage
04:03 you with, is this: There are a lot of people
04:06 with cancer.
04:08 Everybody knows someone who has or has had, or most likely,
04:12 has even died from cancer.
04:14 There are plenty of people among us right now who are dealing
04:17 with a cancer diagnosis.
04:19 Even though this is a little bit dark for me to say, the truth is
04:23 there are many people among us who will be diagnosed one day
04:27 with cancer.
04:29 Well, I want to tell you this: The truth is, especially for a
04:33 believer in God, cancer isn't all bad news.
04:39 Now, some people might find that hard to hear or hard to accept.
04:43 But the truth is, it isn't.
04:45 I'm here to tell you today, cancer simply isn't
04:48 all bad news.
04:51 [Ocean Roar] I came home from the It Is
04:56 Written office and the mail for the day was on the table
05:00 in the kitchen.
05:02 I was flipping through it and I found a postcard from a dentist,
05:06 and it said on the postcard words to the effect:
05:09 Mouth cancer.
05:10 Don't mess with it.
05:12 Get checked.
05:14 And I thought man, this spot on my tongue.
05:18 I don't want it to be mouth cancer.
05:20 But if it is, I don't want to not get checked.
05:23 And so I picked up the phone and I made an appointment
05:27 and I went to see the dentist.
05:29 And the dentist looked in my mouth and he called over his
05:33 lovely assistant, and she looked in my mouth as well, and they
05:35 went "Hmmm" for a few minutes.
05:39 And then they said, "It's nothing.
05:43 You don't need to worry about it."
05:46 Now, I did get a second opinion, but if I were to be honest with
05:50 you, I would have to admit that that wasn't my idea.
05:55 Sometime after my first encounter with the dentist I was
05:59 having lunch with a friend.
06:00 He was also a dentist, providentially.
06:04 He found out I was having a little discomfort in my mouth.
06:06 He took a look, and he said, "You need to get that biopsied,
06:10 yesterday."
06:12 Well, that got my attention.
06:14 I'll tell you what happened next, tell you how good God is.
06:16 I had been invited to speak at a church.
06:19 Funny enough, there were some who tried to talk me out of
06:21 going.
06:22 If they had, things would have turned out very differently.
06:25 I spoke at the church, had a wonderful time.
06:27 After the church service, the church family
06:29 is having lunch.
06:30 I'm invited to join them.
06:32 It seems like there's nowhere to sit.
06:34 Someone graciously clears out a place for my family and some
06:37 friends who were with me, and I sit down.
06:40 There's a long row of seats, and I sit down in one of them.
06:44 Obviously I didn't sit down in two of them,
06:46 but I sat down here.
06:50 You know how good God is?
06:52 Sitting directly opposite me was an ENT,
06:57 an ear, nose and throat doctor.
07:00 A head and neck surgeon, an expert in tumors.
07:05 A man who does this all day long for a living.
07:09 Well, we got talking.
07:11 He looked inside my mouth.
07:13 He said, "You need to get that biopsied."
07:15 I said, "Can you do it?"
07:16 He said, "My partner can."
07:19 Three days later they took a little chunk out of my tongue
07:22 and 10 days later, that man was operating on me.
07:28 I mean, how good is God?
07:31 He led me 100 miles from my home into a crowd of people I didn't
07:36 know, and He sat me down directly opposite the man
07:40 who would save my life.
07:43 You see, that's how God works.
07:45 Even when it appears things are going terribly,
07:48 God is working for you.
07:50 If you'll open your eyes and look, if you'll open your ears
07:52 and listen, you will see God and you will hear God's voice,
07:56 and you'll know that even when things look grim
07:59 God is with you, and He's for you,
08:02 and He's not against you.
08:04 The Bible makes this clear.
08:06 David wrote about it in the Psalms.
08:08 It says this, in Psalm 139, verses 7 through 12:
08:15 "Where can I go from Your Spirit?
08:17 Or where can I flee from Your presence?
08:20 If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
08:24 if I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.
08:30 If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the
08:32 uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand
08:35 shall lead me, and Your right hand
08:37 shall hold me.
08:39 If I say, Surely the darkness shall fall on me, even the
08:43 night shall be light about me; indeed, the darkness shall not
08:49 hide from You, but the night shines as the day;
08:53 the darkness and the light are both alike to You."
08:59 The surgery was extremely well done.
09:03 God didn't plant me opposite just any surgeon, but opposite
09:07 an extremely talented and very gifted surgeon.
09:11 Things went well.
09:12 And the hope was that surgery would be all I needed,
09:17 no further treatments.
09:19 Well, it didn't work out that way.
09:22 Whereas we hoped it would be surgery and nothing else,
09:25 it ended up being surgery and 33 radiation treatments.
09:29 No chemotherapy needed, thank the Lord, but radiation.
09:34 And radiation isn't necessarily any walk in the park.
09:38 I'll never forget what my radiation doctor told me.
09:41 He said, "There are some patients I have, they have
09:45 radiation and they're completely unaware that anything is even
09:48 taking place.
09:49 Some of them say, 'Doctor, is the machine working, because I'm
09:51 not actually feeling anything.' Now, that's good,
09:54 if that's your experience."
09:56 And he said to me, "But then, way far at the other end of the
10:00 spectrum are those patients of mine who have radiation
10:04 in their mouth."
10:06 Way far at the other end of the spectrum.
10:09 That's kind of sobering.
10:11 Well, the first few treatments, no trouble at all.
10:14 And again, thank God I was blessed by a wonderful radiation
10:19 oncologist and a fantastic team.
10:23 But then after a while I started to figure out what my doctor
10:26 meant by "way far at the other end of the spectrum."
10:29 After a while there was pain, and then,
10:32 an inability to swallow.
10:33 And while I don't want to give you all of the gory details,
10:35 if you can't swallow, you can't eat.
10:37 If you can't eat, you're going to lose weight.
10:39 And sure, I lost weight, and then it becomes difficult
10:42 to talk, and then, talking becomes impossible.
10:47 However, here I am talking to you today.
10:50 Which means that things have worked out well.
10:54 At least, so far.
10:58 So far.
11:00 Now, there's a thought.
11:03 I'll be back with more in just a moment.
11:07 [Gentle music] >: In Matthew 4:4:4, the Word of
11:10 God says: "It is written.
11:12 Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that
11:15 proceeds from the mouth of God."
11:18 "Every Word" is a one-minute Bible-based daily devotional
11:21 presented by Pastor John Bradshaw and designed especially
11:25 for busy people like you.
11:26 Look for "Every Word" on selected networks or watch it
11:30 online every day on our website,
11:34 Receive a daily spiritual boost.
11:35 Watch "Every Word."
11:37 You'll be glad you did.
11:39 Here's a sample:
11:42 [rythmic theme music] JB: It can be so easy to let
11:51 discouragement sink into our experience with God.
11:54 So it's important to know what God has said and to remember
11:57 what He has not said.
11:59 In Isaiah 45:19, God said, "I did not say to the seed of
12:03 Jacob, seek me in vain."
12:06 Now, Satan would like you think God doesn't hear your prayers
12:08 and doesn't want you to come to Him.
12:10 But God makes it plain to us that He will hear your prayer,
12:13 and He does know what you're experiencing.
12:15 Despondency and discouragement are enemies of faith.
12:19 You can be assured today that God does answer prayer and that
12:22 the person who seeks God will find Him.
12:25 Don't make the mistake of believing circumstances more
12:28 than you believe the promises of God.
12:30 God never told you that your faith is in vain,
12:32 and He never will.
12:34 I'm John Bradshaw for It Is Written.
12:36 Let's live today by every word.
12:44 JB: This is It Is Written.
12:45 I'm John Bradshaw.
12:46 Thanks for joining me.
12:47 Today I'm sharing a little with you from my heart about my own
12:50 personal experience with cancer: my enemy, and in some ways,
12:57 my friend.
12:59 With cancer treatment the goal is to make it five years from
13:02 the end of treatment and then you can start talking about
13:05 a cure.
13:06 Until five years have passed, the fact is, you've pretty well
13:10 just lived from scan to scan.
13:13 Can that be unsettling?
13:14 Well, it sort of depends on how you look at it.
13:18 The goal with cancer treatment in many cases,
13:21 not all, but in most, is to kill all the cancer cells,
13:24 because if you don't kill the cancer cells,
13:26 the cancer cells will kill you.
13:29 You start asking some pretty searching questions.
13:33 Questions like, Maybe this is God's will for my life.
13:37 Is this my time to go?
13:40 You start wondering about your family,
13:44 your children, your ministry in my case.
13:48 Mostly, your family.
13:51 And while being treated for cancer, more than once
13:54 I asked myself, What if this treatment
13:57 doesn't actually work?
14:01 Well, the good news for me is, the physicians are telling me my
14:06 cancer is in remission.
14:08 That means, as far as we know, there are no more cancer cells
14:12 floating around inside my body.
14:14 It seems as though we've got them all.
14:17 Now that's not a guarantee.
14:18 The cancer could come back, but the educated hope right now
14:22 is that it won't.
14:25 Now, I recognize that remission and guarantee do not appear on
14:28 the same page in the dictionary.
14:30 I recognize that.
14:32 But, right now, the news is absolutely as good as it can be.
14:39 And I'm thanking God for that.
14:41 Now, I mentioned before, there are a couple of issues that I
14:43 wanted to share with you, or go through with you, and one of
14:45 them is this: When you learn
14:47 you have cancer, one of the questions you
14:50 ask yourself is, Where am I going to spend
14:53 eternity?
14:54 Because you start asking those life-and-death, eternal life and
14:59 eternal death, questions.
15:01 So where am I going to spend eternity?
15:03 Well, I know the right answer: I've counseled, as a pastor,
15:07 many people dealing with family members, or people who
15:10 themselves are dealing with illness, even terminal illness.
15:14 And I always tell them, You can have assurance.
15:16 God is good.
15:17 You can know that Jesus is with you.
15:20 Well, now the boot's on the other foot, and I've got to ask
15:23 myself if I believe my own message.
15:27 Can I have assurance, knowing that it's possible my life could
15:31 be ending?
15:32 Well, sure.
15:34 As a Christian minister, I know what to say.
15:37 Do I have assurance?
15:37 Yes, I do.
15:40 But that question is followed by another question.
15:44 And that question is, Upon what do you base your assurance?
15:48 What makes you so sure that you will have everlasting life?
15:52 Now, that's a good question to be asking yourself.
15:55 I couldn't say, I'm going to go to heaven because I'm such a
15:58 good guy, because I'm such a good person.
16:01 Because that's not why anybody goes to heaven.
16:05 Heaven isn't even for good people;
16:08 heaven is for righteous people.
16:10 So, what makes a person righteous?
16:12 Well, we know the answer to that.
16:14 The Bible makes clear that the only thing that makes us
16:17 righteous, the only place we get righteousness from, is Jesus.
16:22 If we have Jesus, then we have righteousness.
16:25 If we have Jesus, then we have the gift of eternal life.
16:28 I want to tell you something: I had never in my life been so
16:32 thankful for Jesus Christ as when knowing that my life could
16:37 be coming to an end, I had Jesus and therefore the very real
16:41 assurance of everlasting life.
16:44 First John 5 verse 12 says, "He that has the Son has life."
16:50 So, if you know you have Jesus, you know you have life.
16:54 And there I was.
16:55 Thanking God more than ever before for Jesus, because having
17:01 Christ in my life assured me that eternal life
17:05 was truly mine.
17:07 Now, if you don't really care about living forever, then
17:12 I guess having Christ in your life isn't really important.
17:15 If you don't care about honoring God and pleasing God, hm.
17:21 But for me, that's what I care about.
17:23 I do want to live forever, I do want to be
17:25 in the presence of God, I do want to honor the One
17:28 who gave Himself so that I might live.
17:30 I want to experience eternity with my family.
17:33 I want whatever it is God wants to give me, I want to receive
17:36 because of the love that I have for God in my heart.
17:40 And looking down through the years, the potentially very
17:45 short years that my future, whatever was left of it,
17:48 I could face the future with confidence,
17:51 because I knew in my heart I had Jesus.
17:54 And I want you to have that same confidence.
17:56 If you know that Jesus really is yours, and you have Him by faith
17:59 in your heart, then cancer, diabetes, heart disease,
18:03 a stroke, whatever it might be, you can face the future with a
18:06 confidence that comes from knowing that you belong to Jesus
18:11 and He belongs to you.
18:14 Second Peter 3 verse 9 says, "The Lord is not willing
18:18 that any should perish."
18:20 I mean, think about that.
18:22 Isn't that magnificent?
18:23 It's God's will that we be saved.
18:26 It's God's will that we be blessed.
18:28 The world is filled with people who view God as a tyrant, as
18:32 somehow harsh and mean-spirited.
18:34 But God's like the wealthy man who wants to give the
18:39 poverty-stricken man a gazillion dollars, except salvation is
18:42 worth so much more than that.
18:45 God wants to bless us.
18:49 You think you want to go to heaven?
18:51 God wants you to be with Him in eternity infinitely more than
18:55 you want to be there.
18:57 God is good.
19:00 Well, a cancer diagnosis can be pretty hard on a family.
19:05 And I had to ask myself really early on what I would
19:07 tell my children.
19:08 At the time, they were 13 and 10.
19:11 What do I tell them?
19:13 How do I explain it to them?
19:15 My wife and I made the decision that we would involve the
19:17 children in every aspect of what was going on.
19:20 So, I was very up front with them,
19:21 told them what I was facing, told them what it might mean.
19:24 They were very positive and were a huge source of strength
19:27 for me.
19:28 They came with me to all of my treatments, they came to all of
19:30 my doctors' appointments.
19:33 In fact, having them with me, made the atmosphere a lot
19:39 lighter than otherwise it wouldn't have been.
19:41 I have to tell you this: I was visiting the doctor
19:44 in the doctor's office one day.
19:45 The radiation doctor.
19:47 He's explaining various things to me, some complicated things,
19:49 some very important things, and that's when he said,
19:52 "Now, Mr. Bradshaw, I think you understand this.
19:55 You're an intelligent man."
19:57 I said, "Doctor stop.
19:58 Stop."
19:59 And I turned to my son and I said, "Son,
20:02 you heard the doctor.
20:03 It's official.
20:05 He said I'm an intelligent man.
20:09 That ought to settle it."
20:11 My son didn't even miss a beat.
20:13 He looked at me and he said, just like that, "Dad,
20:16 I think we need a second opinion."
20:20 Well, what are you going to do about that?
20:23 Well, there are other questions that you've got to deal with
20:26 when difficulty comes.
20:30 What about worry?
20:33 And what about the question, Why me?
20:37 I'll be back with more in just a moment.
20:41 [Indian music with Sitar] JB: "Eyes for India" is giving
20:45 sight to the blind, and you can be a part of this amazing work
20:49 that God is doing.
20:50 Fifteen million blind people live in India.
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20:55 And many of the blind in India could see again,
20:57 if only they could have simple cataract surgery.
21:01 It Is Written is making that happen.
21:04 Would you support "Eyes for India"?
21:07 For just $75 you will be giving the gift of sight to someone who
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21:14 Here's all you need to do: call 1 (800) 253-3000 to donate
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21:22 Or you can write to It Is Written, Box O,
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21:29 You'll also find "Eyes for India" online
21:32 at
21:36 JB: Thanks for joining me today on It Is Written.
21:40 I was pastoring a church once when a dear older lady in the
21:43 church contacted me.
21:45 She said, "Pastor, come and visit me.
21:46 I have something very important to tell you."
21:50 I visited her, didn't know what was on her mind.
21:52 She was in really good spirits.
21:55 She told me that the doctors had told her she had liver cancer,
22:00 and that she only had a few months left to live.
22:04 I said, "Well, how are you doing?"
22:08 She said, "Well, Pastor, I've always tried to get cancer
22:11 in a part of my body where I had two of something.
22:15 I lost a breast.
22:16 I lost an eye."
22:18 It might have been that she lost a kidney, I don't remember.
22:21 She said, "But I only have one liver."
22:25 Her energy was just remarkable.
22:27 I said, "So, how are you going to be?"
22:28 She said, "You know, Pastor.
22:30 And she looked at me with a sparkle in her one eye,
22:33 and she said, "Jesus and me are going to
22:37 get through this together."
22:41 You know, when it comes to a setback in your life -- cancer,
22:44 it could be anything really.
22:45 Something major.
22:47 It pays to have a really positive attitude.
22:50 It helps you and it helps those around you.
22:53 The Bible says in the Proverbs.
22:54 Proverbs 17 verse 22.
22:56 "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine."
23:00 And that's really true.
23:02 I've got a lot to be thankful for.
23:05 Perhaps this is just another way of saying, count your blessings.
23:10 People, get bitter, and they get angry with God.
23:13 God can handle that.
23:15 That's okay.
23:15 But is it really necessary to get bitter with God?
23:19 I mean, what's the worst thing that could happen?
23:23 Well, the worst thing that could happen is that you could die.
23:27 But let's be honest about this.
23:29 What then?
23:30 What then?
23:31 You die, and then?
23:34 Well, the Bible says this in First Thessalonians chapter 4:
23:38 "The Lord himself shall be sent from heaven with a shout,
23:41 with the voice of the archangel and with the trump of God.
23:45 And the dead in Christ shall rise first.
23:48 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up
23:51 together with him in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air,
23:53 and so shall we ever be with the Lord."
23:57 Hey, stop and think about that.
23:58 So shall we ever be with the Lord.
24:01 When you look at the big picture, even when things are
24:04 going really bad, things are actually pretty good.
24:09 Paul said in Philippians 1:21, "For to me to live is Christ
24:15 and to die is gain."
24:18 The fact is, God is with you in your trial, whether it's cancer
24:23 or diabetes or heart disease or whatever it is.
24:27 You see, these things are going to push you.
24:29 They're going to push you one way or the other.
24:31 They'll push you either closer to God,
24:35 or further away from God.
24:37 The thing is, you get to decide what direction they push you in.
24:44 When life takes an unexpected turn, a difficult turn,
24:46 a turn for what we might say is the worst.
24:50 See, none of that changes the fact that God is good.
24:53 God is good anyway, even when someone you love or care about
24:57 is in a fight for their life.
24:59 God is still good.
25:03 The question is, where to from here?
25:09 I can tell you that I consider myself to be profoundly blessed.
25:13 Cancer hasn't been all bad.
25:16 It's shown me many things that I otherwise wouldn't have been
25:18 able to see.
25:19 It's given me much that I would never have been able to get from
25:21 anywhere else.
25:23 So now, I'm committed to thanking God for every day
25:27 that comes along.
25:29 I'm grateful for the opportunities that come to me.
25:31 I see them, I sense them, I appreciate them.
25:34 I appreciate and love my family now more than I have
25:38 ever before.
25:41 It's onwards, really, and by the grace of God, upwards.
25:46 It's my intention, my hope, to be here and ready
25:48 to meet Jesus on the day that He comes back.
25:51 If that's not to be, well, that's out of my hands.
25:55 What is in my hands is to embrace the gift of salvation
25:59 that God has given me.
26:00 What is in my hands is to live with God in the very center of
26:03 my life, looking forward to the great day when Jesus returns.
26:09 So for now, the journey continues.
26:14 And I'm grateful.
26:17 I want to encourage you to call now for your free copy of
26:21 "Confidence in Chaos."
26:23 You can have confidence in God no matter what's going on
26:26 in your life.
26:28 I wrote this book, and I want to offer it to you, free.
26:32 Call now, 800-253-3000.
26:35 If the line is busy, please do call again.
26:38 800-253-3000.
26:42 You can write us at P.O. Box 6,
26:45 Chattanooga, TN 37401.
26:48 Or visit us online at
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27:02 Write to the same address, P.O. Box 6,
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27:19 Let's take a moment to pray together.
27:21 Our Father in heaven, we thank you today that You are good.
27:24 Even when things look bad, You're good.
27:27 We thank You that there is always hope,
27:30 there is always a future, and that we can lean on you
27:33 and trust in you, no matter what
27:35 our circumstances.
27:36 Give us that faith today, I pray.
27:39 In Jesus' name, amen.
27:44 Thanks for joining me today.
27:45 I look forward to seeing you again next time.
27:47 Until then, remember: It is written.
27:51 Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that
27:56 proceeds from the mouth of God.


Revised 2015-02-05