I’m not sure if I should classify today as a milestone or an anniversary? Truth be told four months ago a conversation took place which caused me to circle this date on the calendar and I hoped I would reach this milestone.


iStockphoto © Victor Correia

4 months, 4 years, or 40 years

I always envisioned the day my fiance and I applied for our marriage license would be a fun day. Unfortunately March 3, 2011 was anything but fun as we had to squeeze in getting our marriage license between a series of doctor’s appointments. The last two weeks were a blur of activity as Shari and I learned my cancer I not only returned but had metastasized to the point where I was now categorized with Stage 4 merkel cell cancer. Our plans for a Fall wedding were radically changed with the cancer news and we found planning for our wedding which was only 21 days away. Sadly I never allowed myself to experience fun or joy this day, I was too busy feeling sorry for myself, being angry, and I was looking for someone to blame…God!


If you listen to enough people in certain cancer circles or spend any time on the internet researching cancer there is no way to escape the statistics and stages, and you are quick to place yourself in those categories. You can’t help it, I don’t care how positive your attitude is or how much faith you have, you go to those dark places. For me, it was if I had an asterisk after my name and an expiration date on my chest. One thing was for certain after meeting those doctors that day; I was in a battle, a battle for my life


Shari and I arrived at the Fulton County Annex to get our license, right after meeting one of the oncologists who admitted that a re-review of my December PET scan indicated something that “might” have been overlooked on my sacrum. As we made it to the probate court I found myself getting angrier and angrier with each step. First there was a line just to sign in, second I see a sign which says no food or drink in the office and I’m there Starbucks in hand, third as we sign in one of the three workers announces it’s time for her break to go smoke. Quietly but audibly I started to rant about the inefficiency in government offices…why in this day and age we can’t pre-register for things like these online, etc, etc. Most everyone who knows me well would say I’m a pretty calm guy who usually thinks before he acts, but I think Shari sensed my bad attitude and lovingly smiled told me she loved me, and then told me to let it go as she dug her nails into my hand. I think what really brought me to the tipping point was the fact there were so many happy couples doing the same thing we were who didn’t have asterisks after their names and it just pissed me off.


As we got back to my car everything bubbled over and I exploded, punching the ceiling of my SUV so hard it dented the roof from the inside out. The ride to my house Roswell was quiet and with very little being said. We had about an hour before we had to be at North Point Church for our interview with one of their Pastors who we hoped would agree to marry us, so we stopped at my house. Once there Shari forced me to talk about the place I had been in the last few hours and I broke down on the steps of my back porch as everything I was feeling bubbled to the surface.

I was mad, sad, embarrassed, and relieved at once.

Shari did her best to console me but I couldn’t get past thinking Why Me Why Now. I was mad at God the cancer was back, I was pissed at the timing, I was sad this day which should have been filled with joy was tainted by doctor’s appointments, and grateful I wasn’t doing this alone. Shari, a cancer survivor herself, reminded me how faithful God had been in we both had faced and how she truly believed that God had prepared BOTH OF US for the journey.

Tom, it’s one thing to share trust God period on your blog, and it’s something entirely different to show everyone trust God period in the midst of so much uncertainty. You may never know the impact this one decision will have on those who come to know your story. – Shari Martin


The emotions of the day were written on our faces as we walked into Mike Teston’s  office. He told us how he had only agreed to this interview because of a recommendation of another staff member who knew our story. Mike asked Shari and I to tell him our stories and then our story as a couple. We shared with him our desire to complete North Point’s 2 to 1 premarital mentoring even though we couldn’t do the program prior to our wedding day because there just wasn’t enough time. For us it was important for us to lay this foundation as we started a new life together and I think Mike was happy to learn of our commitment to do this. I also told Mike that cancer didn’t give me a pass not to become the husband Shari deserved or the step-father to her sons needed and I wanted to do everything in my power to equip myself to become the man God created me.

Looking back on this meeting, so many God Winks were affirmed in those 90 minutes with Mike. As stories were shared and tears were shed, a sense of peace come over me and Shari as we began to believe God was with us in the midst of my/our circumstances. We both left Mike’s office completely drained by what took place and by the events of the day and we found ourselves in the parking lot of our church holding each other as we thanked God for placing Mike Teston in our story and for his decision to marry us. Mike shared an abbreviated version of our time together that day during our wedding ceremony where he proclaimed how he felt Christ’s presence was with us in our time together.


Mike shared with me this wisdom which is the reason for this post:

Tom, “I don’t know if you have 4 months, 4 years, or 40 years but I do know God is faithful and He has a plan for your life, with or without cancer. He knows you, He knows what’s on your mind, and He knows what’s in your heart, and it’s up to you to let everyone know your Faith lies in Him…regardless!”


So today as I write this, I find myself at the 4 month milestone mentioned in Mike’s advice. Selfishly I pray I will have the opportunity to embrace the 4 year and 40 years milestones Mike mentioned. But you also should know Shari and I pray a prayer we have prayed every morning since March 3, 2011,

This is the day OUR Lord has made WE WILL choose to rejoice and be glad, in spite of the circumstances we face!

Today we prayed this prayer but with just a little more gratitude for the 4-month milestone which was achieved!


trusting God period!

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