How do you assess your life?
I have worked hard all my life. The passion I have for my work is infectious, so much so that my whole family now share this passion. I am so proud to say that my work has become their work. I guess you could say I’ve left a legacy. But what kind of legacy?
In early August I was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour.
When some caring friends noticed my behaviour was unusual, they insisted I get checked immediately.
Within a day, I underwent major brain surgery and have since been placed on an intense program of radiation and chemotherapy. My cancer is terminal.
Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM) has a median life-expectancy of under 2 years. It doesn’t get much worse than this. It is likely the nauseating, energy-draining chemotherapy will be part of my daily existence for the rest of my life.
How do you come to terms with a death sentence? I am only 58. I have lots of dreams and plans for life and work. I still have so much left to do.
When I came out of hospital after the operation, I had a deep desire to go through our family photo albums. I just needed to remember my life, reflect on it and feel connected to my family.
Looking through the snippets of my life, reliving all the good times we spent together, I was just overwhelmed with gratitude.
I remember setting aside an afternoon each week to pick up the children from school and spend time with them. We called it ‘daddy’s time’. I love our ‘family night’ dinners, our joint holidays and celebrations together. I’ve had a full life with lots of sporting, outdoor and active memories that I deeply cherish. I’ve achieved a lot in my working career, even though I hoped to do more.
I am so thankful for my beautiful wife. I am so thankful for my three incredible children. My two lovely daughters-in-law. I love how they have all banded together to stand with me as I go through this overwhelming trial.
If you pause for a moment, ponder receiving a death sentence like I have, what would cross your mind? How would you feel about the decisions you’ve made? The life you are living? Your priorities? How would you assess your life?
As for me, I now accept my diagnosis. I understand it is God’s will.
As I reflect on my life, my heart is warmed by the support of my family, the care of friends. Yes, I’ve had a good life. One without too many regrets. I have been inundated with good wishes and assurances of prayers from so many friends, relatives and acquaintances.
But more than anything else, I am comforted by God’s close presence and promises.
What matters most? What is important now? What comforts me now? The answer is the health of my relationships. None more important than my relationship with God.
I stopped ignoring God in my 22nd year, I turned to him and put my trust in Jesus for forgiveness and friendship. I chose a life of service to him and his presence has been a constant comfort ever since.
I am amazed how calm I was at hearing the news of my illness. God comforted me with his presence and his promise that he is in control and that those who don’t ignore Jesus are safe with him for all eternity. I am safe with him for all eternity.
I am well aware of what an early death could mean. My career may nearly be over. I might not grow old with my wife. I might not see my grandchildren grow up. I might not have the energy to be an engaged grandparent. I might not even get to meet them.
There is no doubt this realisation has made me deeply reflective and sad, but God’s presence and promises in Jesus give me comfort. I find myself content in his purposes. When I said at the outset that I’ve left a legacy – it isn’t my mark on the world that I refer to – but rather a family that trust in Jesus. I know he will look after them and bring them safely into the right eternity.
I have focused my life on God, invested in relationships, encouraged others in their relationships, and especially, encouraged them in their relationship with God. Even in this, I can truly say that I am content. Are you?
Watch Greg's interview on the Pastor's Heart
As a grateful member of Greg’s church I was given 6 months to live in October 2018 with sarcomic mesothelioma. Thanks to Greg and his team I received excellent understanding of the bible and was on the receiving end of many prayers...am still here, have had some chances to share the benefits of deep faith in God during radiation and chemo so thanks to all at Pitt town. I don’t have a lifetime of service to my credit but maybe have made a difference in a few peoples’ lives...and the Holy Spirit made it happen.
Freshly candid narrative. Greg is, as always, the same thoughtful person who points to what is essential in navigating life's hopes and fears.
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Greg is the Senior Pastor at Pitt Town Anglican Community Church where he has served the local community for over 20 years.