March 5, 2008

A Note from Dr. Cook

Dear Friends:

I am so glad to see springtime. The trees are budding and our flowering trees on campus are just beautiful. Spring brings new hope for all of us. I have found that in this battle of cancer, it is very important to keep hope, and many days, I think the hope has come directly from the Lord as a gift to me.

I wanted to share with you about several notes I have received. The individuals quote James 1:2-3.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.”

I, of course, have read that verse many times before, but it really had a strange affect on me when I read it in the cards. I realized that I was not counting it all joy that I had this terrible disease of leukemia. I thought about it a good bit for several days, and dwelled on it probably too much, thinking that I should try to find some joy in some of the miserable days I was experiencing. One of those notes came in mid-January, right after I had finished my third round of chemotherapy, and it was a very severe five days of chemotherapy. This was the time when the doctor thought I would probably have to go back into the hospital, but fortunately, I never did have to go back to the hospital. Anyway, I really felt very miserable, and then I got this card.

I was in my doctor’s office visiting with his chief nurse. My oncologist has been a wonderful doctor, and I have been so grateful that he has used his knowledge, wisdom, and expertise to help me during this difficult illness. He spent years and years going to medical school and residency and studying so that he could help his fellow man, and I am certainly the beneficiary.

His nurse, Kathy, has been a prayer partner for me. When she is checking my vital signs, we are always talking about the Lord. I had received the note with the Scripture that says, “Count it all joy,” several days before my visit to the doctor. When she asked me how I was doing, I said, “Kathy, I am doing okay, but I sure cannot find any joy in all of this suffering.” I told her about the card I had received, and I told her I was trying to do my best to find joy, but having leukemia since October 12 has been the most miserable experience of my life. I told her that I had come to peace with the Lord with all of this. It is the “peace that passes all understanding” as the Scripture says, but I have found no joy in any of this, and I did not know if I ever would.

Kathy said to me, “Gary, don’t beat yourself up over not finding joy. It’s okay. You know, only Jesus was perfect, and there is no way you can be perfect, and you should not try to beat up on yourself over not finding joy.” Well, these were the words that I needed to hear from a fellow Christian believer. I broke down and started sobbing. She came over and hugged me and prayed with me, and she truly was a ministering angel to me on that day. I felt like she was giving me a word from the Lord that it is okay, and that I did not have to find joy in these circumstances.

I have hesitated to share this on the website, because I do not really want a bunch of people writing me some syrupy e-mails telling me that someday I will find joy as I look back on this experience.

However, I thought that I would share this on the website because maybe there are others out there who are either going through some terrible experiences with their health or their children’s health or other problems in their life, and maybe they have not found joy either. I just wanted to let you know of my weakness in this area as a fellow traveler in this journey of life. I have found peace with the Lord through all of this, but I have found no joy in the suffering and all the worry day after day. I know it has been so hard on my family. Sheila has done more than I could have ever imagined to help me and to comfort me. When we took our wedding vows, I really did not understand what it meant when we repeated the words “in sickness and in health,” but now I do. It has just been so difficult on Sheila, Mark, David, and Nicole, and certainly on my close friends and assistants in the office, as well as the vice presidents at Dallas Baptist University. They have all had to do double duty, and I have just appreciated everyone’s love, encouragement, and support during this time, but I know it has been a strain on everyone.

I am most grateful to my Lord Jesus for all of the comfort He has given me through this illness. He has never left my side, and I know he will be with me until He takes me into the Father’s arms in heaven.

I am feeling better every day, and I surely have appreciated your prayers. Please keep praying for me. This is a long journey.

Let me share in closing a Scripture verse that my assistant, Ashley Mafima, shared with me that I have held on to for months now. It comes from 1 Peter 5:10, and the verse states, “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”


Gary Cook