Sunday, September 10, 2017

The Turning Point

The results of my last PSA test are in. Somehow, I got lab results on a Sunday afternoon. That never happens. But in this case, I'm glad it did. It will make tomorrow a much less stressful day. But we've reached a turning point. The result was not what we hoped for. My PSA is 5.45, up from 3.72 a month ago. Zytiga didn't help, or at least not enough. My cancer is still growing, and there's no holding it back now.

I'll admit that I'm relieved that I no longer have to take Zytiga. It was anathema to me since I first unpacked the box it came in. I now can go back to following my heart. I may be approaching the end of treatment, but at least my heart is free.

I can't tell you everything this means, but I can tell you a few things. It means that the Lupron shot I'll get on Thursday will be my last cancer treatment. It means that the calendar has been accelerated, and hospice is not far in the future. In fact, it could start this week. That's one of the things I expect to find out when I see my oncologist on Thursday.

This also means that, at least in terms of physical healing, I was not the Morsefest Miracle. But I think our being there in the first place was a miracle. The fact that, at Stage 4 for a year, I was able to take part in it so fully is a miracle. God gave me a whole new family because of it. That's a miracle right there.

The hardest part of this has been sharing the news with loved ones. I had a conversation with a friend last night about it. He asked what was new, and I told him I'm being given months. He said, "Months? Less than a year?" "Much less," I replied. I saw another friend who hasn't kept up with my story this morning. I told her that the result of this test would determine if I stay on this medication I tried, or go into hospice care. "But you look fine!" she said. "That's because I haven't done chemo," I answered. "If I'd been on Taxotere, I'd look like every other Stage 4 patient you've ever seen." The look of grief on her face haunts me.

I see those looks of grief everywhere I go now. As the reality of the situation sinks in, many who love me can't hide their sorrow. It breaks my heart to break theirs. Or yours. But as I made calls and sent emails and texts to my inner circle, (a group that keeps growing, for which I am immensely grateful) I find myself apologizing for being the bearer of bad news. It hurts me to see how this hurts you. I am the one who is dying, but you are the ones who will have to live with it. I am so sorry for that.

I love each and every person who reads this blog, but I have to say something to some of you. Not all, by any means, but some. The time for denial is over. This is going to happen, and soon. I can feel it. But that's a whole other blog post.

I am tired of treatment. After two years, I'm ready to call it a day. No more pills, and after Thursday, no more Lupron shots. I finally get to do what I've wanted to do from the beginning of this. Just trust God. To that end, I ask everyone who reads this to please refrain from suggesting treatments or diets. No videos, articles, or links, please. We're past that now. What I need from you is empathy, prayer and support. This is an appointment we all must keep one day. Nobody gets out of it. I know I'm special, but I'm not that special.

I emailed Neal Morse today to tell him my results. When we talked after the second worship service after Morsefest, he asked me to keep him informed. In my email, I told him what the result was, and thanked him for his ministry to me and so many others. Then I referred to that conversation we'd had just a week ago. I told him then that if God heals me, to God be the glory. And if he doesn't, to God be the glory. Either way, he is Lord. To paraphrase Job, the Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

I have much more to say, but it can wait. I want to talk about trusting God, and what that means to me. I want to explain my view of mortality, and tell you about this feeling I've been having for about three weeks. I want to explore the concept of Heaven being Home, and what that means. And so much more. But that's for later. Make no mistake, I will bear witness. I will keep the faith.

I'll never be able to express my gratitude enough to all of you who read this blog, react and comment. It's very reassuring to receive so much love and support. Please stay with me all the way to the end. It's gonna get pretty grim, I can't lie. I will look death in the face and not flinch. In fact, I will laugh. Because death has no hold on me. Jesus defeated death, hell and the grave when he rose again. Because of him, I will rise again too. #waroncancer #bearingwitness


  1. Amen and amen.

    This seems appropriate. Stonewall Jackson
    “[M]y religious belief teaches me to feel as safe in battle as in bed. God has fixed the time for my death. I do not concern myself about that, but to be always ready, no matter when it may overtake me. That is the way all men should live, and then all would be equally brave.”

  2. This is probably one of ths saddest stories I have heard in some time, but I'm happy that you have accepted your situation so well and with absolute candor! We must all trust in God and you are certainly leading us in that conviction right now. God has blessed each and every one of us, and will continue to do so throughout eternity. I am both so sorry for you (and your family) but also so happy about your acceptance in the His everlasting salvation!

  3. Wow Mark. You are an inspiration to me. Your music always was and now your attitude. My heart breaks to read this but I know your faith is strong. I can't imagine facing the things you have in this past year I respect your decision and pray Gods perfect grace and peace to you and your wife and your family. Thank you for sharing the stuggle and now... the peace that passes all understanding that will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus. God bless❤️

  4. And you will hear "Well done, good and faihful servant." It was a pleasure sharing the experience of Morsefest with you, and seeing the joy it gave you.Although we exchanged nothing more than a brief handshake in the hotel lobby Friday afternoon, my own battle with prostate cancer gave me a special empathy for what you have experienced. Know that you are always in our prayers...Habakkuk 3:17-19

  5. My prayers are with you and your wife. God bless you and keep you. 🙏

  6. I will be praying. From your Greeley follower and Neil Morse fan as well. I agree with you in Jesus' name with this blog and Neil Morse's music and giving touching so many people.I will be praying and supporting you.
    I love you brother!
    Michael Knespel

  7. Mark
    I only found you through your experience at Morsefest.I am so happy you got to experience that miracle. I want to tell you that you are doing the right thing eventually we have to do what is right for us or in this case right for you.
    4 years ago in April my father found out he had stage 5 cancer. He opted to try the chemo mainly for my mom. After 10 days he told me he had decided to stop the treatment and asked me to support his choice and help him explain his choice to my mom my siblings and his friends. Of course I agreed.It was difficult but my Father wanted to do things on his terms. He wanted to do a few bucket list things and he did. After 50 days he passed over. The courage and dignity he showed was amazing and was so typical of him. We are a very musical family and 3 days before he passed we had one last musical party which he totally enjoyed as did we and his friends.
    I am writing to you in the hope that what I have said will bring some calm and understanding to you family and friends. I know that when the time comes that the Lord Jesus will be there to welcome you. You are without doubt a good and brave man and I want to wish you and your family Peace Love and Understanding. I will pray to the Lord on behalf of you and your wonderful family.

  8. I have been reading your blogs and have responded to each one, but for some reason I don't think they are getting through. I do everything by Smart phone, maybe that's why. But what I want to say now is this: it was Paul who said " for me to live is Christ, and to die is gain" Yes, it is hard for those who love you. But these words for me have been such a comfort when I have lost those I know that are in a truly better place! They would not come back if they wanted to! And I know I will see them again. I no longer fear the inevitable. I may fear the pain and discomfort, but even that is temporary. Our time is in His hands. What comfort we have through our Savior! Nothing else in this world compares. My prayers for you and your loved ones will continue. Thank you for your wonderful blogs. Your honesty is so inspirational to many. I know it has been to me. The Lord bless you!

    1. Thanks for your comment, Linda. I'm sorry your comments haven't been showing up. I have my blog set so I have to approve comments, but I've not been getting notifications of them. I just saw a bunch today and approved them, so hopefully that problem is solved. Thanks so much for your support.

  9. You don't need to carry us. We need to carry and encourage you. Great is your burden for friends and family. You are an inspiration. To God be the Glory, indeed!!!

  10. Sorry to hear! Yes, along with sorrow there is room for joy too, in the freedom from treatments. Release from the continuous hunt which can get so tiresome; the side effects, often worse than the cancer. You are brave to accept. I know i don't need to but I'll say it anyway, dance with your wife while you can, make music, snuggle, keep writing... Your an inspiration. My heart is with you both (and your circle). God bless and keep you.

  11. Mark, thank you for your faith-filled message. As you start your journey, know that we are with you, that we are praying to our God to give you the peace that only He can give, and that our hearts are heavy.

  12. May God go before you and embrace what He has left for you and what He has before you! - Rachel Grauman Keyser

  13. No words....only music can soothe this soul. Peace, my friend

  14. I've known you most of my life. I've enjoyed your talents, kindness and heart for God and those around you.
    You are an inspiration of hope and healing.
    Thank you for sharing your heart and talents with us. You are a good man and I will continue to pray for peace for you and Sharon.
    Much love to you both ♡

  15. Mark, I am so blessed because of your sharing, your blog, and being able to meet you and Sharon. Know that your life is having a wonderful affect on our lives.

    No man escapes death, it is the unavoidable appointment we all have. Some die tragically without the opportunity to ponder their life; some have the opportunity to see the doorway, and to tie up loose ends, redress priorities, make amends, and some desire more time to give Glory to the Creator of all, and some are in fear being drained of hope as they cannot see anything beyond this world. The saddest part of the story is so many people have not come to the place of considering the grander purpose of their short fleeting life. But through Christ, your words impart strength to us.

    James 4:13-17
    Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will travel to such and such a city and spend a year there and do business and make a profit.” You don’t even know what tomorrow will bring—what your life will be! For you are like smoke that appears for a little while, then vanishes.

    Mark, I want to thank you that you have chosen to use your trial to glorify God and his eternal plans for us. What a sweet offering, an pleasing aroma to the LORD. Sweet because you chose look farther, deeper; to consider reality more than most of us ever will. I pray we would all live our lives in such a way, as none of us will escape our passing from the world of flesh. But not everyone has the hope of Life in Christ and few people will praise Him in the Storm, in the Whirlwind of life!

    It pray that you would continue to be a glory to God!, and also that if He wills, that your life would be extended in this world for that purpose! How Awesome no matter what! Thanks for sharing your faith in Jesus! Be Bold, Strong and Courageous! The best is yet to come because God has ordained to us LIFE, and conformity to the Son is our destiny and the Spirit is our guarantee! Come On!

  16. Smoke And Mirrors by Neal Morse

    Fantasy worlds and barren lands
    Made for unknown Gods by trembling human hands
    Deceived from birth
    Conceived to die
    Misleading lives without a reason why

    Disillusioned souls causing bloody tears
    The truth masquerading with Smoke and Mirrors
    Disillusioned souls causing bloody tears
    The truth masquerading with Smoke, Smoke and Mirrors

    Born into bondage as slaves to sin
    Inspired to run races that we cannot win
    Cleansing water
    In a bowl of brass
    Remains in obscurity behind darkened glass

    Disillusioned souls causing bloody tears
    The truth masquerading with Smoke and Mirrors
    Disillusioned souls causing bloody tears
    The truth masquerading with Smoke and Mirrors

    Now we are here among the blind
    We seek to know the one beyond all space and time
    Reality is sweet for sure
    For all of this confusion there is only one cure

    He's planted in our souls
    Life beyond the years
    We will not be victims of Smoke and Mirrors

    He's planted in our souls
    Life beyond these tears
    And we shall be like Him beyond
    Smoke and Mirrors

  17. You are a son of God. Hold Him tightly.

  18. Mark,

    Thank you for all your years of ministry both in song and in your words and deeds of faith. Your walk with our Lord continues now and for eternity. Tina and I rejoice in that! Love you brother.

  19. Mark -
    I don't know you personally and I found your blog through a niece, but I wanted to say GoD Bless You. May his mercy bring you peace. You are a strong individual not only in facing this monster disease but in your testimony of God's unending love. I'll stay with you. Love and peace.

  20. Mark, I can truly empathize with you,
    Type 1 diabetes diabetic chronic kidney disease
    Chronic systolic (congestive) heart failure
    Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
    Essential hypertension
    Arteriosclerotic vascular disease
    Asthma, intrinsic, stable
    Kidney disease, chronic, stage III
    Ventricular tachycardia
    Muscle fatigue
    Unsteady gait
    Stasis ulcer
    Chronic venous hypertension (idiopathic) with ulcer of left lower extremity For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. Philippians 1:21 We are going to the place God has been preparing for us since the beginning of time! ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’[a] or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Revelation 21:4 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” John 14:1-4 (Jesus speaking) I'm praying for you brother! You'll be home with Jesus!- when He calls!

  21. Milt and I just keep praying and praying for you, Mark and your Sharon. On "bearing witness" - indeed you have! To me and I think untold others. Thank-you! Praying on and on.