Sam graduated from high school with my son, Keith, in 2004. I didn't know him personally, but I heard his name, read about him in the paper, even sat as a judge when he gave his graduation speech to a preliminary panel. As valedictorian he was an automatic "in", but the speech stood on its own, a testimony to its creator's gift for language.
I didn't think about Sam after that day until I was told, four and a half years later, that he was in a battle for his life with leukemia. Sam's girlfriend, his "high school sweetheart", is the daughter of my friend Mary, who works with my husband Keith. My very distant connection with Sam became somewhat personal.
I was given a link to Sam's blog and have periodically checked up on Blog Strong: The Leukemic Adventures of Sam Weis to keep up with his condition/treatment/progress. The road has been grueling for Sam as he has endured, I believe, six rounds of intense chemotherapy along with radiation treatment and an assortment of medical procedures in between poking, prodding, testing, recovering, hoping, fighting, reflecting, and various stages of sickness.
Sam finished his treatment about two weeks ago, had a bone marrow biopsy done last week, and is waiting to hear the results. As Sam puts it,
If that comes back clean, we'll move onto maintanence and I should actually get my life back. If it doesn't, well, instead of reaching the summit this climb will get a hell of a lot steeper.
So, where does Stuart come in? I noticed this "Stuart" always commenting on Sam's blog in a vein of comradery that spoke of his own cancer journey. But, I also heard the voice of a follower of Jesus so I clicked on his blog and learned that he, too, was fighting leukemia in the prime of his life.
Stuart's treatments are finished and he is on a maintenance program. While thinking of Sam today I clicked onto Stuart's blog to see if he had updated in the many months since I last viewed it. What I found was a most touching and poignant video about Stuart and Candace's (his wife) story called "A Marriage Journey with Cancer: Stuart and Candace"
I am grateful for the gift they give to others in sharing their story and giving all praise to A Great God for all things in all things.
My prayers today are for Sam: for a clean bone marrow test; and for him, too, to raise his voice in praise of the Great God who IS worthy to be praised.
UPDATE: Sam's test came back clean! It appears he has passed the summit.