Health Update & Life Review
from James W. Goll
Some of you have walked and prayed with me for years. Others of you are new to my personal journey. But I felt it would be good to compose a review and an update concerning the health and life issues I have faced over the past several years. At the close I will also give you an overview on where I am today.
This is going to take some time to do this – so get a cup of freshly brewed coffee – have a seat and then start to read – because I am going to be real and honest with you.
THE LONG AND WINDING ROAD
As we round the corner into the summer of 2010, I want to review some of where I have been, where I am, and a measure of where I am headed.
Most of you know I was in a battle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma cancer for 8 years. It manifested three different times in three different regions of my body. First it attacked me in my right groin area and grew rapidly to the size of a cluster of grapes. I did 25 radiation treatments at the time, had some amazing God encounters, and was eventually declared clean, clear and free of all cancer cells with no anticipation of it ever returning. Prayer has always been my first weapon though I have sought input and treatment all along the way from as many sources as possible.
I stayed clear and free for a couple of years, but the nature of this type of cancer is that it tends to hide somewhere in the lymphatic system only to manifest then later in another part of your body. So has been my history. It later reappeared as a two-inch goose egg sitting on my left collarbone along with a small growth behind my stomach. I then under went 8 treatments of rituxsin - passive immune therapy. This treatment did work in part – the growth at my collarbone disappeared over time, but the treatments damaged my immune system and as a result I was exhausted.
Somewhere in the “Long and Winding Road” of all of this, I took a 90 Day Health Sabbatical. I entered into the Oasis of Hope Hospital in Mexico and did a good deal of detoxing and treatment that was used to give a needed boost to my immune system. I remember after I got out from those 17 days of confinement I felt – for a while – like a new man. I would like to feel that way again….
CRISIS WITH MICHAL ANN
Along this way, the cancer crisis had already begun with Michal Ann. She had her entire colon removed one Christmas. We had great hopes of her conquering this beast and we were believing the Lord for new body parts. She was relentless in her pursuit of healing and wholeness and she took me along on her journey. I think she fought harder than I ever did – perplexing to say the least why I made it and she did not.
We learned together about the basic issues of alkaline versus acidic systems as well as nutrition and supplements. Ionic footbaths, vitamin C therapy and other forms of detoxing were our regular regimen. Soaking prayer topped the list as we marinated in the presence of the Lord to various worship CD’s - always drinking deeply of the Father’s Love. We were showered with prayer by our friends and also had special times of prayer with those in leadership positions in the Kingdom.
We were really surprised when the attack hit Michal Ann so hard and so fast. We had already learned about breaking curses many years before, and had done so as her mother and grandmother had both passed away from battles with cancer. We had closed generational doors, forgave whoever needed to be forgiven (7 times 70) and kept ourselves plugged into the “river of God”. We identified ungodly beliefs, wrote up empowering declarations, and we NEVER, NEVER gave up. We learned about root causes to diseases and went after the spirit of generational infirmity, witchcraft and betrayal. We learned a lot!
But the battles raged on… Michal Ann eventually had two brain surgeries, chemotherapy, multiple trips to Oasis of Hope and whatever else just to try to salvage her once beautiful life. Our personal finances were ravaged due to medical expenses. Prayer went around the globe for Michal Ann and I and I believe we might go down in history of two of the most prayed for people in all history!
EARTH’S PAIN - HEAVEN’S GAIN
Michal Ann never lost her smile, she never let one negative word be echoed in her midst, and she loved God until her last breath. She exhaled her last earthly breath on September 15th, 2008 at 7:32 AM in our bedroom at home. I got to spend the last night with my beloved in our room in our house in the rolling hills of Franklin, TN. I will always miss my Annie.
We celebrated her life in two endearing services of honor: one in Nashville, TN and the other in Odessa, Missouri. Today her body is buried in the quiet, peaceful setting of the Dover, Missouri cemetery next to her wonderful mom and dad, Dorris and Davis Willard. She escaped this life to live, to love, and to worship the One Who first loved her - Jesus. I was relieved that she did not have to suffer any more, but in reality, as a family, we were probably not very prepared for the lonely months that lay ahead.
As a family, we still miss her dearly. As I compose this memoir, Dreamer’s Park – built for the children of Pemba, Mozambique - is coming to a completion in Michal Ann’s honor. My oldest son, Justin, and oldest daughter, GraceAnn, are there now with other friends to dedicate it to the glory of God!
I had no time to care much for myself in those days as all my energy was focused on my wife. Along with Michal Ann’s caregivers, we were doing all nighters in ER rooms at hospitals, to admittance in the hospitals, to Rehab Units and back home. This pattern played out over and over again. It appeared at times that we had a bon-a-fide miracle only to have another set back.
One thing I learned in those days: everyday we have is a gift from God. I wish I could have some of those days back with my Annie – I might have stewarded them differently. But thank God for heaven – one day we will be joined together with our parents worshipping the Lamb Who was slain.
MY BATTLE CONTINUED
The growth behind my stomach was stubborn and while most of the attention had been focused on our dear Annie, that cancerous growth just kept growing inside of me. It grew to the size of a large potato – 3 ½ inches by 2 ½ inches.
I was overwhelmed with Probate Court details and going through piles of Michal Ann’s belongings as well as learning to wash my own clothes and paying bills for the first time in over 30 years. I was on the road trying to bring in income to keep my life and ministry afloat, trying to be “Mr. Mom” (which I had to learn would never work) and crying myself to sleep most nights. I wept a lot and occasionally still do. I journaled most every day, went to counseling regularly, and kept those soaking CD’s going.
But I knew something was not right within my own body. I had been doing CT and PET scans already for years now in 3-6 month intervals. I knew I needed one and was finally able to get it approved. I found out what I did not want to hear. The cancerous growth was still there - bigger than ever - and the cancer had begun to spread into other areas of my lymphatic system. I had to go proactive and do it as fast as I could.
The next thing I knew, I was in treatment at the Cancer Treatment Center of America. I was there for ten days or so in August of 2009 and had an intense treatment using a radioactive isotope which was shot into my system to invade the cancerous regions. Prayer rose up! 1,200 people gave a pledge of $100 or more and we had an amazing Medical Benefit Concert in Nashville that helped us to stay afloat as a family and ministry. All I could do was rest and learn to let go.
Then the great news came on October 7th, 2009 that all the cancer cells were eradicated in my body and all the growths had melted. A shout of praise arose across the globe that James W. Goll was cancer free. My kids and I were among the loudest praisers.
LIFE AFTER CANCER
We painfully had made it through our year of firsts without our Michal Ann – wife, mother, sister, and Director of Compassion Acts.
I was now cancer free – but I had to learn that did not mean that I was fully restored. I was required to take 14 weeks off from public ministry to recover from the last treatment and I realize now that I probably needed a year off to recover from the whole ordeal. And I probably still do… but what do you do? The best you can. Some things in life – you learn as you go. And some things in life – you unlearn as you go!
With my healing I was thrown into facing a new and unexpected battle – a mental one and a theological one. I found myself asking questions that I had not asked since I was 20 years old: Why am I here? What was I created for? Why did I make it and Michal Ann didn’t? I fought to live for my four children more than for any reason. To date, I am still seeking answers to some of these questions.
Though delayed, I think I finally went into the depression stage of grief. I’m not really sure I am out of it yet if I am to be honest. My energy levels in the natural were so low that there were – and still are – days I would rather stay in bed. On these days it takes all the will power I have to put one foot in front of the other. I have learned also that faith looks different in various seasons of your life and it frankly takes faith and trust for me to be this transparent.
I think I have lived in and out of trauma for so long that I have forgotten what it is like to feel well. My body and soul are still getting healed and restored and I have been learning to pace myself. Oh boy, more new lessons for an old dog! Someday I really might have something to write that someone will really need to read! Ha! And yes, laughter is a good medicine - I need to do more! Let go. Rest. Laugh and just be.
WHERE ARE THINGS NOW?
Recently I had another 6 month PET scan done. Good news came – no signs of cancer and there are no growths. Praise the Lord! I am so thankful! I have another chance in life… Amazing!
But what am I to do with it?
Though I am still rather emotionally and physically tired, I want a new life and I want to be well. Medically, some of the radiation has settled in my GI track creating some new complications to deal with. Some of this stuff just takes time. That is my latest report from my naturopathic spirit-filled Christian doctor. Rest. Nutrition. Fresh Faith. Soaking and other things… and time.
What do I want? I want to enjoy my family and go on some adventures and just see – just see – if there could maybe be something new for me. I’m really not interested in my second life being just an extension of my first one – I desperately want to do something new… I always got bored really easy and I really don’t believe I got my furlough extended just to do more of the same!
I have obeyed the strategic word the Lord gave me “to prepare to downsize your ministry by June 2010”. Well, here we are! As I compose this we are in an office that is 1/10 of the previous size; we have a staff that is 1/8 of the size it was formerly; we are no longer hosting conferences; we are no longer gathering as the EN Community; I am no longer involved in leading Nashville’s Worship City Alliance and I have laid down several other things as well. I am surrounded by a lot of loss at every corner these days. And there are no more funds either! Yikes for sure. We have our ministry bills paid (for now), but we have no more funds left at all. But one of these days the pruning will be over!
I am learning to cry “Help!” to the Lord all over again. I started there and guess what – it is where I am again! This time around, I stand there somewhat alone - not abandoned - but alone. I am learning by the great grace of God to be content – I do not like it at all – but I am learning many more lessons in life’s journey. Yes, I DO like change! Ha!
LIFE RAPIDLY MOVES ON
My youngest daughter, Rachel, is getting married on August 14th to a wonderful and godly young man. My son, Tyler, graduates with honors with a degree in Game, Art and Design on July 30th and will then move to LA to live with his older brother, Justin, and search for a job in 3D Animation. GraceAnn got accepted to the prestigious Chicago Art Institute to work on her Master’s in Art Therapy. Both Tyler and GraceAnn’s moves with be right after Rachel’s wedding! Justin continues on doing well in work, ministry and community in his beloved LA. All my children love Jesus and walk in the light! Now that is a miracle! I love them so much and I am so proud of each of them!
I have had the great gift of having 3 of my 4 miracle children living with me for this past year and a half. But that will come to a sudden crashing halt all within one ten day period! Yes, change is good – but that much all at the same time? “What do You want from me anyway? You want me to blow with the wind, or what?” By the way, you did not read that last sentence… Yes, I have another huge opportunity for more GRACE and more CHANGE!
I have a life yet to discover. I have a life to live – and not through my kids. I have a life to live without Michal Ann. I have a life to live by yielding my wonderful history before Him. And I have a life yet to discover and to live for the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ. I think I have a shadow yet to cast on the next generation.
I honestly do not know where the wind will take me. I recently discovered that I have to maintain my Tennessee residency to be able to maintain my health insurance. If I were to geographically relocate, my cancer history would be considered a “pre-existing condition” and I would not be covered. Oh my. That’s a bummer! Someday – maybe – I will have more than one residence - I really do not know – but I am letting it be known that my residency is in Tennessee!
And now let me be even more blunt and honest… Please note I am not accepting applications for another woman in my life! Although well-meaning, the attempts to find (or “be”) the next love of my life are neither requested nor welcomed. If the Lord wants another woman in my life someday, it will be between the Lord and me and my family to determine. I am just trying to shut some doors here – okay? Please be considerate of me and my family as we are already being faced with having to deal with situations in this area that are unpleasant and uncomfortable. We just want to live life at this time - so please simply pray for me and my four great children – and the future of Encounters Network • Prayer Storm • Compassion Acts. Please leave major life decisions to us, my Board of Directors, and Apostolic Advisors. We would be most grateful for this!
Well, breathe! That was quite a Health and Life Update! Take another sip of organic coffee and toss up a prayer or two. Who knows, maybe I will yet discover that yesterday’s dream about my tomorrow is my today’s opportunity.
As a family and an EN ministry, we are grateful that you have walked with us on this arduous journey. We walk with a limp like Jacob of old, but walk we do – we walk with each other and we walk with our dear Lord Jesus Christ. If you want, you could limp along with us too. Is He worth anything less?
Walking and Limping and Praising God,
James W. Goll