Cancer does not take a break for anything. So the treatment has to be hard and persistent. Three and a half years of continuous battle against an enemy that wants only one thing: to kill you.
A few weeks ago Harrison was in the dugout as the NC State baseball team won a hard-fought contest with SEC powerhouse Vanderbilt. He was able to be around guys fighting for their baseball lives. It may seem like a trivial matter (and, of course, compared to his cancer it is), but for these young men the challenge of winning a baseball game is a big deal. And well it should be. They were down, but not out. In the end, they emerged as victors. All the pain, toil, and frustration was forgotten in the aftermath of a victory.
There was a lesson for Harrison: never give up. When you are down, you are not out. In baseball, one loss may be the end of your season. In cancer, a loss means the end of your life. Want to keep playing? Don’t stop fighting.
Losing never feels good, whether in a baseball game or at work or school. But losing is not an option for Harrison in his battle with cancer. That’s why he picked “Strike Out Leukemia” as his motto. You can’t let leukemia stick around and expect to win. The doctors, with their barbaric treatment, take a no-holds-barred attitude with cancer. Not one single cell can remain. Every last cell must be destroyed, or there will be an eventual relapse.
For that reason, the painful injections, sickness, joint pain, and fatigue are all a part of the fight. That’s the deal. No pain, no gain. It is no fun to endure cancer treatment, but the prize at the end is worth it. We will take no prisoners in this war; every last enemy must be annihilated. We’ll not rest until there is not a single leukemia cell lurking in his body.
When I was a kid I loved the Rocky movies. In each one the hero would take a beating, leaving him on the brink of loss. But Rocky’s opponent would wear himself out pummeling him, and Rocky would come back to win in the end. He was beaten up and bruised, but he was the winner.
It’s a great story, and makes me think of Harrison’s current battle. Every day he has drugs that are pummeling him, beating him down, making him weak and sick. But, in the end, he’ll emerge from this fight a winner. And not simply because he is a fighter, but because of the mercy of our kind God. We call out to the Triune God because he is merciful. We know he hears our pleas. Where there is healing, even by the common grace of chemo drugs and Gleevec, there is the hand of God. We are grateful.