Thursday, April 12, 2012


By Verne Strickland, April 19, 2012

My failures as a political prognosticator are well-known. For example, I predicted early on that Barack Obama by this time would be working as a clerk in the office of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

So my firm belief that cancer won’t kill me could blow up in my face. I do feel I stand a better chance of being run down by a David Rouzer campaign bus driven by Tom Goolsby than I do of succumbing to multiple myeloma. We’ll see. 

But there have been some interesting twists and turns in this saga I am living through.

I’ve come through several weeks of radiation and two courses of chemotherapy. Thank God I’ve tolerated those treatments with few troubling side effects. They are killing cancer cells. We haven't won the war, but we are scoring well in the battles.

I don’t know how much of a factor attitude is in a situation like this, but I’m told that it’s quite important. On that score, I feel good, hopeful, and positive. I know I have lots of assets on my side. First and foremost – Jesus Christ, in whose arms I rest and live. Close behind – my implacable, loving family, who have supported me every step of the way.

Our youngest son, Britt, who lives in England where he is an English lit teacher at an academy north of London, came home immediately when he heard what was going on here in the colonies. This was at considerable expense. The meaning of that mission was not lost on me.

My wonderful wife, Durrene, told me today that she is impatient with problems that affect her own well-being so she can pour all her attention into helping me through this. She has fibromyalgia, is still recovering from a broken femur sustained two years ago, and takes powerful pain medications to get her through the day. My wonderful lady.

Our eldest son Martin, a Wilmington residential building contractor, said it grieves him to see his dad hooked up to an IV system in a local cancer treatment center. He is invariably attentive and helpful.
And Scott, our middle son, who lives in Boone with his wife Melissa, stays in touch with warm phone messages. He has MS, and usually is too fatigued for lengthy travels.

Lest I forget, I also am indebted to the impressive medical community which serves Wilmington and the Cape Fear Region. When I showed up at the Hanover Medical Specialists clinic not more than a couple of months ago, I was in desperate pain and virtually unable to walk. In short order they fast-tracked me into the system and pinpointed the problem -- multiple myeloma -- which was centered in my pelvic region but was already spreading into other parts of my body.

I was told by board-certified oncologist Dr. William McNulty that the cancer had been discovered early enough to respond to modern medicine, and that there was every chance I would weather the storm and survive to die by some other means. 
So I am blessed to have comfort and care. My job is to toe the line on Dr. McNulty’s orders, take my big bagful of prescription medicines everyday, get lots of exercise and rest, ration the Jack Daniel's Old No. 7 Black Label, and avoid writing about politics through half the night. As an inveterate party animal, I flaunt that last directive, but otherwise follow his instructions to the letter.

While it saddens me to perceive that this whole thing is unsettling to those closest to me, I realize how many positive things have come from this trial.

Durrene and I, married for 51 years, are closer.  This is a wake-up call that our time together is finite. We more consciously cherish these moments, are less sensitive to trivial issues, and seek ways to to convey our mutual love at this time in our lives. This is a real, bonafide bonus. 

God has accomplished this mysterious blessing: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose". Romans 8:28. 

We have dramatically revised our priorities. Whereas in the past we have been more materialistic than we should have been, we are now led to concentrate on spiritual concerns and opportunities given to us by the Lord. Things eternal. The lessons of the Holy Scriptures come alive for us.

We are inherently flawed, we still sin with regularity, but we are forgiven, and we are saved.

Our three boys, and our daughters-in-law, were raised as Christians, and their faith has only deepened as they have grown into adulthood. We know that their souls are secure – hid with God in Christ Jesus. It’s wonderful to contemplate.

So there are many blessings available to us to serve, and worries for our own personal welfare are not only pointless but sinful.

The following may be my favorite scripture. It speaks to me. I paraphrase, so I may have misquoted the King James Version to some extent: “Let not your heart be troubled. Ye believe in God. Believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions. If it were not true, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will return and take you unto myself, that ye may live with me forever.”

I have a wonderful personal story I may tell you sometime about how that powerful bit of scripture exploded into my life years ago. Not now. But maybe later.

Blessed assurance. God bless you all, my dear friends, who mean so much to me. Your pal and fan, Verne.