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June 9, 2022

Fairfax Family,

I want to give you an update on my cancer journey. In January, I shared with you that I had been diagnosed with lung cancer that had advanced beyond the lung itself. In other words, stage 4 lung cancer. The response from the congregation, from my family and from friends around the world was overwhelming. You have prayed for me, sent notes of encouragement, performed loving acts of kindness and supported Donna and me in more ways than I could possibly list. Thank you! I am so grateful and humbled to be your pastor.

Over the past five months, I have witnessed so many manifestations of God’s grace. The genetic mutation that causes my specific type of lung cancer was identified within a matter of days. This particular mutation has been highly researched, and a number of FDA approved treatments have been developed. The particular treatment I’m on has proven to be been highly effective with very few side effects.

The quick identification of the specific mutation that causes my cancer made it possible for my treatment (a targeted therapy that is taken in pill form) to begin without delay and avoid having to do standard chemotherapy along with its numerous side effects. In spots that required radiation, they were able to use targeted radiation (Cyberknife) instead of a more generalized radiation. Again, with no real side effects.

The results have been amazing. Over the past five months, I have had numerous MRI scans, PET scans and CEA blood tests that measure the presence of cancer in my body. Those scans and blood tests have indicated a steady and consistent retreat of the cancer. Tumors have disappeared. Lesions have diminished or completely melted away. On June 1, I got the most recent CEA blood test. For the first time, the results were in the “standard range.” That is the range you would expect to see in someone who does not have cancer. To God be the glory!

I am filled with gratitude for so many things in this unexpected journey. I am thankful for the prayers of God’s people. I am thankful for a loving, supportive family. I am thankful for friends who advocated for me when I could not advocate for myself. I am thankful for a medical team made up of individuals who have devoted their lives to understanding and treating awful diseases like cancer. I am thankful for researchers, physicians, physicists, and engineers, whose names I will never know this side of heaven, who developed treatments and equipment that have dramatically advanced medical care in this area.

Most importantly, I am thankful for a God who is the ultimate source of everything that is good. I bear witness to God’s healing grace in my body. God has been at work in so many ways and through so many people. I have seen the miraculous hand of God in the ordinary and the extraordinary. In the common and the uncommon. In the mundane and the exceptional. This is my testimony.

Physically, I feel great. I’m preaching again. Meeting with staff again. Traveling again. I’m serving the church I love and have the privilege of leading. Our Advisory Council continues to provide tremendous wisdom and support as I walk out this journey. And our incredibly gifted and passionate staff continues to equip the church for the work of ministry. It’s a good season.

I do not presume to know the future. The word “cure” is not the operative term used with stage 4 lung cancer. Instead, the medical community talks about effective treatment. I will continue on my targeted therapy indefinitely. There will continue to be scans and blood tests to monitor how things are going. If anything develops, it will be found quickly.

My prayer is that the cancer will not return. My prayer is that the targeted therapy will continue to be effective. My prayer is for continued research and breakthroughs in dealing with all forms of cancer. My prayer is that God will continue to redeem this in the same way that God redeems all things when we surrender ourselves to him. My prayer is that my testimony encourages others to embrace and share their own unique testimony. My prayer is for God’s kingdom to come in Fairfax just as it is in heaven.

I love you Fairfax!

Rod

January 17, 2022

Fairfax Family,

I’ve spoken often over the past two years about the unexpected challenges that life can bring. We have faced many of those challenges in 2020 and 2021, both locally and globally. Through it all, we have continued to witness the overwhelming provision of God and his unrelenting grace.

As we enter 2022, I find myself in the midst of my own unexpected challenge concerning my health. I have been diagnosed with lung cancer that has advanced beyond the lung itself. With help from some uniquely positioned people in our church, I have been blessed with an amazing medical team that has been forming around me. I have already begun initial treatments and am working with my doctors concerning an ongoing treatment plan.

This is certainly news that I never expected to get. I’ve never smoked nor been exposed to secondhand smoke. The good news is that reality offers some other treatment possibilities that are highly effective depending upon my unique genetic makeup and other health factors.

I appreciate your prayers as I journey down this unexpected path. I am filled with gratitude for all those who are surrounding me at this time and for the many expressions of God’s grace that I have already witnessed in this process. I am realistic about the seriousness of the disease, but I am also filled with faith and trust in the God who moves mountains and redeems all things.

Concerning how all of this will impact the church, it should be minimal. We have an amazing staff that will continue to effectively lead all of our ministry and mission efforts. Our Advisory Council (my bosses) is made up of both members of the congregation and national leaders in our denomination. It is a team filled with wisdom, discernment, spiritual maturity and organizational insight. They will be more visible during this time and will be providing guidance on my schedule during this season.

Concerning the weekend teaching schedule, I will be taking a little break during the next couple of months to focus on my treatment. We’re putting together an amazing teaching schedule that will include our teaching team and some special outside guests. We are blessed with so many wonderful resources in this area, and I’m excited about how these speakers will guide us as we launch this new year.

Valerie Nolan will be handling the majority of my communication during this time to make sure that questions, requests, inquiries, etc. are all handled in a timely manner and don’t get slowed down by my schedule. You can email Valerie at valerienolan@fairfax.cc. Feel free to reach out to her about anything, including questions you may have about how best to respond to all of this.

We have a praying congregation, and I know that you will be surrounding me in prayer during this time. Thank you! I am praying that God’s grace will be made manifest in my body. Specifically, I am praying for a treatment plan that will be highly effective in treating the cancer. I’m praying that God will redeem this in the same way that God can redeem all things.

This diagnosis came as a complete surprise to me, but it did not surprise God. God is already at work in all of this. He will not waste it. God will use it to proclaim the gospel, remind us that he is victorious in all things and bring God’s kingdom to Fairfax just as it is in heaven!

I love you Fairfax!
Rod

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