Tuesday, April 29, 2014

God Sightings While Coping With Prostate Cancer Part 1

At my Church last week our Pastor spoke about how easy it is to take people and the Lord  for granted. One way to keep our faith (and your relationships) vibrant and healthy is to life with an attitude of gratitude toward the people in your life and with the Lord.

In order to do this with the Lord it's important to develop the skill to see God's working in your life, not only in the big moments of life, but in the everyday moments as well.

As I look back on my journey with prostate cancer I notice at once, it's easier to identify God sightings looking backward than it is to spot them in the middle of a storm. Early in my journey when I felt led by the Holy Spirit to write a book and develop an on-line ministry for men and couples coping with cancer something very odd happened. It is the first time I've experienced anything like this in my 37 years of walking with the Lord.

As my wife and I were writing our faith-based book about prostate cancer, I knew it was important for me to choose a Christian publisher. After much research I chose WestBow press for a very specific reason. WestBow Press is a publishing division of Thomas Nelson. Books that succeed with WestBow are considered for publication through Thomas Nelson. Since the majority of independently published books sell no more than 150 copies is very rare for a title to move from WestBow to Thomas Nelson.

Here's the God sighting part in all of this,back then, before the book was completed, I know no other way to put this without sounding spookey, but I believe this came from the Holy Spirit, I was given absolute faith and confidence that our book would be considered by Thomas Nelson.

For more than year I did what I could do to market and promote our book. I hired not one, but two Publicity Agents. We advertised in newspapers. We received  front page Modesto Bee coverage about our book and ministry.  I've written a few magazine articles. Brenda & I had radio interviews.

During the course of the last year I wondered if/when Thomas Nelson would call. I also seriously questioned how does one tell the difference between what you wish would happen vs what you believe you heard from the Lord.

On Friday April 25th in the afternoon I learned the difference. I received a phone call from WestBow press indicating that Thomas Nelson was interested in our book. I was very excited, but I wasn't surprised. I knew I'd  receive this phone call before my wife and I finished writing the book!

I've learned a very important lesson from this experience. You never need to worry or be concerned whether or not the Lord is faithful. He is. I knew without a doubt He'd do His part. The only question was whether or not  I'd do my part.

The journey to Thomas Nelson isn't a sure thing. I was told WestBow wanted to see a spike in book sales before Thomas Nelson would consider our book. This reminds me of the Jewish people's journey into the Promised Land. They couldn't just walk in and claim it. There were giants in the land, that were so powerful the people made the decision not to fight even though they were assured a victory. As a result  they wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. They lost their opportunity to enter the Promised Land.   My prayer is this: That I faithfully do what's required of me so the plan for the book can be realized.

What about you? What has God placed in your heart to do that's  far beyond your comfort zone? Will you step out in faith and do what's required?  If you'll do this, God sightings will be obvious to you.

If you or someone you love is coping with prostate cancer check out my book:
I Left My Prostate in San Francisco-Where's Yours?

Saturday, April 26, 2014

1 in 7 Christian Men Will Receive A Diagnosis of Prostate Cancer In Their Lifetime

I hope the first question that comes to mind is how on earth could I know that 1 in 7 Christian men will receive a diagnosis of prostate cancer. Here's how:
Key Statistics For Prostate Cancer
It's reasonable to assume the prostate cancer rate among Christian men is the same  for men in general.

What's been troublesome to me in the years that I've been a prostate cancer survivor I've found very few Christian Organizations, Ministries, or Church outreach to men and couples facing prostate cancer. This may sound sexist, but I suspect men are partly, perhaps fully to blame for this. Men have a tendency to want to keep things to themselves.

There is an added incentive to do this when many of the aggressive forms of treatment can result in the loss of urinary control or erectile dysfunction. These can be difficult topics to discuss in the context of a relationship. The idea of discussing this with strangers is unthinkable for many men. A Pastor's wife told me that men may be so private about this disease they don't even want it announced in Church so their Church family could pray for them.

I have a very simple message to all men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer. Here it is:
                                     Do not face this disease alone.

That said, putting together a team to help men cope is not an easy task. Here are my suggestions for your team:
1. Prostate cancer specialists-You may want to see more than one, since there are a variety of ways
   to treat prostate cancer.
2. Friends & Family-    Not every friend will be equip to help you on the journey. You may find one or two                                       who can offer the support you'll need
3. Your Church family- It's important to have prayer partner. You may be surprised to learn there are
                                    more than a few men in your Church that are prostate cancer survivors.
4. Other's Coping with prostate cancer- This is essential for any team. Access to a few people further                                                                         along in the prostate cancer journey is invaluable.

That's a good start for a team. As a Christian I often feel like a lone voice in the wilderness in that I find few sources of faith based support for Christian men and couples coping with this disease. That's why my wife and I wrote our book:
I Left My Prostate in San Francisco-Where's Yours?

It's the reason maintain for my website with faith based forums for men and women:
A Website for men considering surgery

Last but not least it's why our Facebook page tried to reach men around the world who are coping with life without a prostate:
Where's Your Prostate Facebook Page

We started off very slowly, but each week we are reaching more men and couples. If you are coping alone, I invite you to visit one of our websites to share your story and connect with those further along in the journey.

One other important detail I'd like to share. Although our ministry is a Christian faith-based ministry, men and couples of all faiths, or without any faith at all are welcome to use all our resources.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Meaning of Easter For a Prostate Cancer Survivor

If you are a prostate cancer survivor, or any cancer survivor you've been given a reprieve from a death sentence. This reprieve has the potential and power to become a life altering event. However, if your values, attitudes, beliefs and behaviors remain where they were before you were diagnosed with cancer than you've wasted your reprieve.

As a Medical Social Worker I had the privilege of participating in the life reviews of men and women that were terminally ill. The regrets they shared were remarkably similar.  The #1 regret I heard had to do with the use of time. In order to achieve professional success, a lot of  time was taken away from both marriage and family This sacrifice of time to achieve professional success appeared to be the right thing to do at the time.

For reasons I cannot explain, on your death bed the sacrifice and price paid for professional success becomes very clear. For some, the pain of regret was far greater than the pain  brought about by a terminal disease. I once asked a group of people what would they do if they knew they had one day to live. The worst answer I heard came from a woman who said "I go in to the office, but I take my children with me!" I felt very sorry for her children.

The 2nd most frequently heard regret was closely related to the #1 regret. The #2 regret  had to do with a failure or breakdown  in an intimate relationship with a partner or a child. The quality and quantity of time spent with a spouse or child was the sacrificial offering for the price of success. The lack of time had a severely negative impact on that relationship.

For others,  the breakdown in a relationship had nothing to do with work. A intimate relationship remained broken as a result of  an unforgiving spirit. There are people out there who hold grudges for years, others for decades, and some truly foolish people hold grudges for their entire lives. I'm personally familiar with a life long relationship breakdown. I'm convinced my sister will remain alienated from me and my family for the rest of her life. Last month my eldest son was married in NY just a few miles from where my sister lives. I called her and told her my entire family (my youngest is 21, who my sister has never met) was in NY and wanting to visit/meet her. She was not interested.

Unforgiving people foolishly believe the bitterness, anger, and forgiveness they maintain is directed and contained toward a specific person. Nothing could be further from the truth. All those angry and bitter feelings leak out on the people you love the most.  Your capacity to love is diminished your own level of forgiveness.

Jesus tells this story about the relationship between the capacity to love and forgiveness in Luke 7:40-47

"Simon, I have something to say to you." And he said, "Teacher, say it."  There was a certain creditor who had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.   And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both. Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him more?"  43 Simon answered and said, "I suppose the one whom he forgave more." And He said to him, "You have rightly judged."  Then He turned to the woman and said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head.  You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in.  You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil. Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.

If you want to live and love in the way God designed you to live and to love, accept Jesus death on the cross as payment for you sins. Accept His resurrection as proof He died and rose again to give you a new life. A life filled with the capacity to forgive and filled with the capacity to love. For those who are skeptics and those who need more information, check out this link:

Historical Evidence for the resurrection
Easter is more than a celebration of Jesus resurrection, it can become your day of resurrection to a new life in Christ.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Happy Birthday To Me

     Random thoughts on my 69th birthday (tomorrow) when the calendar says I'm 62. I remember the good old days at age 16 when I easily passed for 21. Those were the days when Id's were not required and looking older than my chronological age presented me with lots of advantages.
Fast forward the clock four decades. I take my son Chris Redner to rent a movie. As I reach for my wallet, the clerk says to Chris "Isn't it nice your grandfather is renting a movie for you?" Chris thought that was very funny. I was NOT amused.
     To reverse these types of age misunderstandings, every year I decide how old I'm going to tell people I am. This year I'm going to start with 69 and see what kind of reactions I'll receive. If I find that people easily believe I'm 69, that means it's necessary to move it up a few more years until I hear a comment that goes like this: "Wow, you don't look that old" There's only one downside to doing this. It's beginning to hurt my self-esteem as to how old I need to say that I am before someone finds it hard to believe. I hope it won't be necessary to say I'm in my mid 70's this year.
      This much I do know, what ever age I'll end up saying that I am, I intend to enjoy this year to the fullest.
I'm not waiting until I retire to enjoy my life. This year my family and I traveled to NY to attend my eldest son's wedding. After the wedding, we flew many members of our family to Florida for a week long family vacation. We flew them home so my wife and I could enjoy a romantic week in Florida for ourselves.
     Very soon we are taking our adoptive daughter to her country of birth, Korea. My wife, daughter and I will stay there for nine days. This summer I'm taking my wife the the CA coast. We plan to live the rest of our lives to the fullest.
       Becoming a prostate cancer survivor changed my life. I don't take time for granted. I don't take my health for granted. It's become very important to me to celebrate and create new family milestones as often as we can. I know many men who've had their prostates removed say that surgery ruined their lives.I also know that with attitude adjustment you can view the time we have left as a very precious gift. That's the legacy I want to leave my family. I want them to say Dad sure learned to live better as a prostate cancer survivor. You can make that choice whether or not you've been diagnosed with cancer.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

A Gift from Prostate Cancer

     In March I had the privilege of attending my eldest son's wedding. I did not take my attendance of this event for granted. There was a time early in my journey with PC when I believed I'd die before reaching this and many other family milestones.
     Before I was diagnosed with prostate cancer at age 58, I'd been complaining of pain in my bones. Like most men,  I found it less threatening to complain about this to my wife, rather than see a Doctor about this potentially serious symptom.
      When it became necessary for me to see my Urologist for a prescription refill he insisted on performing a digital-rectal exam. When he said he felt a suspicious lump and that I'd need a biopsy, I was not only convinced I had prostate cancer, I was certain it was already in my bones, which explained why I'd been experiencing  bone pain. As I waited weeks for my biopsy, I was convinced I'd be dead within a year or two. My deepest sorrow wasn't about dying. I have Christian world view, and I believe absent from the body, present with the Lord. (2Cor 5:8) My deep sorrow and regret came from my belief I'd miss seeing my all my children married, becoming a grandparent, and living long enough to retire with my darling wife.

     When my bone scan came back clear I felt as though I had a new lease on life. I was blessed with  the opportunity to live long enough to see some, perhaps all of those milestones. My son's wedding was the first milestones. I can't even put into words what it meant to me to have lived long enough to see and participate in this wonderful event. I was joyful. Joyful for them and joyful to be there. The couple was kind enough to let me offer a toast to them.

In Jewish tradition I ended my toast with the words: "l'chaim" which means "to life" I was toasting to their lives together as a couple, to the lives of all those people who were attending this wedding, and to gift of life I'd received to be in attendance of this event.

Yesterday one of my son's invited my wife and I to walk-through of a new home they'd just purchased. It was another milestone I'd lived long enough to see. This was the house they purchased to raise their family, and I was alive to see it. I feel  a special gratitude for the opportunity to part of these events, and that's a gift comes from my status and prostate cancer survivor. I hope those who read this won't find it necessary to be a cancer survivor in order to experience family milestones with a grateful heart.


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Small Beginnings Aren't As Bad As We Think

If you were given the choice at the beginning an endeavor to choose between instant success or slow and gradual success, which would you choose? I'd choose instant success every time. I've come to the conclusion it's a good thing that choice is not in my hands.

Approximately 15 months ago my wife and I published a book titled:
I Left My Prostate in San Francisco-Where's Yours? Coping With The Emotional, Relational, Sexual & Spiritual Aspects Of Prostate Cancer.
Prior to publishing this book I was aware the average self-published author sells less than 100-150 copies of their book. Given those statistics it's amazing anyone would spend hundreds of hours of their time to write a book.

For my wife and I the desire to write a book didn't originate with ourselves. We felt called to write a book to help men and couples cope with life and love without a prostate.  When I created our Facebook page
Where's Your Prostate?  to promote our book, I had no idea whether or not men world would drop by our Facebook page to share the city, state or country where their prostate was removed.

I remember starting out with fewer than 10 pages likes. Fast forward the clock 15 months. Now we've crossed over 500 page likes with many hundreds of more likes to the links we've shared about prostate cancer. New people visit our Facebook Page every day.

Each and every week I'd have to make a decision what I can I add to this page that would make people want to visit us. I'd also need to invest money in advertising which meant I'd need to evaluate which ads worked and which ads did not. Because our success was gradual rather than instant I've worked to improve what we started with many times over.

The same is true for our Pre & Post Surgery Forums.. We started out very slowly with only few people visiting our forums each week. I kept creating relevant threads based on what the needs men and couples shared with me. Each and every week our Forums changed and improved their content. Now we see approximately 3,000 visitors per month.

This blog began with very few page views, but I kept on blogging. Maybe not as much as I could have, but I kept on blogging. Very soon will have crossed over 8,000 page views.

In each and every one of these endeavors, I never achieved instant success. That didn't stop me. I was persistent. There's an old expression which goes like this: "If at first you don't succeed, try try again.
That's only half the story. In fact one could argue that's the definition of insanity. If something doesn't work, don't try it again and again. If at first you don't succeed, try again a different way, and if that doesn't work try again another way, and keep on trying until you succeed. It's that attitude which in the end sorts out those who will succeed and those who will fail.

 If you give up after a single failure you will become a failure. In this journey I've learned the value of persistence. That said, our book hasn't hit the Amazon or New York Times Best Seller List. It's highly likely it never will. However, with  persistence we continue to sell books every month. The book won three awards. We've had dozens of positive reviews from readers, and our book was called "A clear-eyed, warmhearted and extraordinarily useful guide" in Kirkus Review.

Sometimes success doesn't come from persistence, it's comes from changing the definition of success.
I'd be a failure as an author if my definition of success was making the New York Times Best Seller List.

My definition of success involves saying yes to these two questions:
1. Have I've been faithful to the task I was called to do?
2. Have I performed those tasks to the best of my abilities?

What's your definition of success? Does it harm or increase the likelihood of you being successful?