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JER:

It all began back in 1968 when I thought it would be a good idea to get hit by a car, break my hip and femur so I could end up in the hospital and meet this cute nurse’s aide named Kathy Kirwan. I fell in love during those twenty-one days in the hospital. We got married and started a family. Our first-born was Steve and eight years later came Joshua. I wish that I could tell you that our marriage was perfect, but I can’t. We had our struggles and even a six-month break-up. Things were not going well and we knew we needed more. One day Kat and I decided to attend a little church in San Clemente, California. It was there that we both accepted Christ as our Savior.

Things got better as we attended church regularly and I cut way back on my drinking and cocaine use. For me it was a process that would take many years until I really got it and completely surrendered my life to God. I made a decision to stop living life selfishly and allow God to heal our family. From this point on we have never taken our relationship for granted. We realized how blessed we were to have and love each one another. This love gave us strength and helped us to endure through many seasons of life together. However…nothing could have prepared us for the diagnosis of stage four throat cancer.

KAT:

When Jer told me that the biopsy was positive for cancer, I felt like time stood still! This was my love, my husband, and the man I have always affectionately called “my boyfriend.” He had never been sick a day in his life. We both held each other and wept. That’s when we cried out to the One who is in control and asked for supernatural wisdom. At that time I wrote on our family message board several things that God had put on my heart:

Love and serve each other!

Keep our eyes fixed on Jesus – do not waver!

Jer is indestructible until God is done with him – no fear!

Committed to trust God no matter what!

Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit!

We visually focused on these truths until it was all over.

Then began our cancer fast track. We walked through four surgeries, including a tonsillectomy, a porta-cath to deliver the chemo, a feeding tube in Jer’s abdomen and removal of the suspect lymph node in his neck. The doctor told him that cancer never starts in the lymph nodes. It always begins somewhere else. Right after Christmas we began a heavy schedule of intense radiation. The radiation required us to go in five times a week over a period of seven weeks and that was not included chemotherapy. The battle between fear and faith would overwhelm me at times. That’s when my dearest friends and the body of Christ would hold my arms up and those moments of fear would be replaced with the faith to carry on. I watched my husband, boyfriend, best friend quietly suffer so very bravely. I told Jer that Jesus and he were my heroes!

JER:

I received prayer from all over the world, thanks to the internet and good friends who put out the word. I learned to seek God’s presence continually as my faith turned to total trust in Him and His Word and He became my constant companion. One night a group of men came over to our house to pray for my upcoming PET scan, which would show if there were any cancer cells in my body. This is how that went.

My friend Jeff Cate called me and asked if some men could meet at our house and pray for me regarding the scan I would have the following Monday. Jeff and I had been talking at church about his victory over cancer. He recently was declared cancer free! As a result of Jeff’s miracle he had formed a men’s prayer group that go out and pray for people. I was honored to be on that list.

One by one, the men filled our living room. There were seven men and Gavin, Jeff’s young son. We had a sweet time of fellowship before I shared exactly what was going on with me and about the upcoming scan. It was a very comfortable time since I considered each man there a friend.

I sat in our comfy little Hawaiian rocker and they gathered around me, laid hands on me, anointed me with oil and began to pray.There were many requests made unto the Lord. The Holy Spirit was asked to show up, and He did not disappoint. Someone in the group prayed that the Lord would give me dreams and visions about the scan. I really don’t feel like I am a person that has spiritual-type dreams or visionsbut once, in fact, years ago I had a vision that turned out to be very practical. It was regarding a stoppage in our sewer pipe. The Lord showed me in a dream the exact location and what the stoppage was. The next day I was able to cut open the pipe and pulled out a four-foot tree root, patched it up and never had a sewer problem again!

Well, on the night the men came over to pray about my PET scanI had a dream. It was definitely different. I do dream quite frequently; however, they usually are either nonsensical or just kind of crazy, like, where did that come from? In this dream, I was sitting in a seat outside a type of arena. It had a wooden floor and was about the size of a hockey rink. Sprinkled on the floor was a substance like mixture of sand and sawdust, and people were seated around the arena. My seat was at one end and there was a man sitting next to me explaining what was going on. I never saw his face. Suddenly at the opposite end of the arena there appeared a machine, very similar to a Zamboni, except there was a small plow mounted on the front. There were flames about one foot high shooting up in front of the machine, and the driver would plow the sandy material and extinguish the flames as he worked his way to the end of the arena. The man seated next to me explained that this represented a cancer scan and if all the flames are extinguished when the machine reaches the end of the arena that person would be cancer free. This run was for someone else, but I didn’t know who. The machine got to the end of the arena, where a goal might be, and all the flames were gone and there was an announcement over the PA system, CANCER FREE! And everyone applauded with joy. Now it was time for my scan and the machine started out again at the other end of the arena and was working its way toward the goal. Flames were being extinguished along the way and it was looking good. When it got to my end of the arena the machine was having trouble keeping the flames under control. Just before the machine got to the goal, the driver jumped off and grabbed what looked like a half sheet of plywood. He began to scrape the sandy material onto the flames. He was working really fast and finally the last flame was extinguished. Suddenly there was complete silence and the lights went out. I didn’t know what to think, and then a very authoritative voice, not from the PA system, said very distinctly, “There is no cancer in this man.” I woke up and I knew God had answered that prayer. I couldn’t wait to tell Kat, but it was 4:00 in the morning.

Later that week, my doctor called with the results of the scan. He said, “No cancer seen.” It was just as God had spoken to me in my dream! CANCER FREE! Praise and honor and glory to the King!!

Kat and I were encouraged beyond any expectations that we may have had and truly felt so thankful for all the friends and church family that rallied beside us by bringing us meals, driving me to treatments, providing gas cards to help offset our expenses and most of all the many prayers that sustained us. We were blessed to become friends with a couple from our church, Donna and Dan. Donna went through the exact same treatment and supported us through our journey. I want to thank my wife, who is my girlfriend and best friend, for her unconditional love and support through this. I couldn’t imagine going through this without her.

God spoke to me continually during this time. One Sunday morning at church I asked Him, “Why did my friend Jeff Cate and I have to go through cancer? His answer was very clear. “Because I chose you for My Glory.” (John 9:1-3) 

I’m thankful I have been able to return to work. My girlfriend, Kat, and I enjoy riding our tandem bike, and I’m back surfing again. I recently received a second scan that came back clear. God has been incredibly faithful through it all, and as C.H. Spurgeon said, “I can thank my God for every storm that has wrecked me upon the Rock, Christ Jesus!”

After 41 years of marriage, Jer and Kat, are still Boyfriend and Girlfriend. Chosen for Your Glory is the first chapter in Testify the Book!

Carlos Cano is a twenty-three-year-old Christian recording artist. He recently appeared on ALMAVISION, a Mexican Christian television station worshiping Jesus Christ with his music. As a new songwriter Carlos has a positive message of salvation and hope to share with his audience. He believes he was created to worship and he knows personally the One who gives him the songs to write. Five years ago, he didn’t have a voice, didn’t sing, and certainly didn’t go to church.

Carlos was born in the town of Iguala, Mexico. His parents immigrated to the United States when he was just two years old, settling in Southern California in the city of Dana Point. The transition was hard for the family and eventually the parents split up. Carlos lived with his mother, who imparted good values and raised him with a Catholic background. He didn’t want to do anything that would break his mother’s heart, yet the streets outside had such a pull.

The lure to associate with gang members and a desire to fit in was often overwhelming. This lifestyle for a young Latino male is very strong, providing security and family. This is really all he ever wanted…to fit in. Carlos became an angry teenager, and if he didn’t turn his life around, was on his way to trouble.

It began in junior high, when he was first introduced to the gang lifestyle. Kids were selling drugs on campus and doing them in the bathroom. Alcohol was consumed in water bottles. In high school it was cocaine. Many of the gang members were violent and liked to fight. At this time he was drifting, without goals or ambition. Turning seventeen, Carlos reached his lowest point, when his mother was diagnosed with cancer. She had been his rock, and now she was sick.

How could God allow this to happen to her? He felt helpless, blaming God for everything, especially for his mom’s battle with cancer. Being a proud and strong young man, Carlos thought somehow he could make her better…but it didn’t work out that way.

This was a dark and frustrating time for him. He chose to hang out with people who would blaspheme God and ridicule the Bible. They all listened to satanic music and this seemed to fuel his hostility. He desperately wanted friends and family, yet he was so angry with everyone. Weekend parties and fighting were a way of life. He needed a dad to provide parenting, but it seemed too late for that. Anyway, he had no relationship with his father. Carlos was desperate and headed for trouble. If something didn’t happen soon, he would get caught and end up in jail.

One day his dad came knocking on the front door and told him he had become a Christian. Carlos felt very hostile toward his dad and really didn’t want to be around him, but for some reason that day, when his dad asked him to go to church, he went. Maybe it was the lunch invitation afterward. Dressed in gang-banger clothes and a beanie, he sat in the back of the church, listening to the message of salvation, that Jesus had died on the cross for him. How could that be? For me? Why would Christ die for me? There must be a logical answer.

During the next few weeks, as Carlos spent more time with his dad he noticed a big change. His father used to be so distant, angry, and showed little compassion for him. These last few weeks Carlos realized his dad demonstrated love, peace and joy. His father was a different man. It was easier being with him and so father and son continued going to church on Sundays in the hopes that their relationship would get better.

One Sunday, Carlos entered the church building hoping to find that same peace he had seen in his father. The pastor shared a message that day on how Jesus was the only one who could fill the void in our hearts and give us a reason to live, that we were created to worship HIM. Carlos felt so broken and desperately wanted to be whole.

He began to understand what the pastor was talking about, how he needed to surrender his life to Christ. As those very words were spoken, he broke down and wept, tears streaming down his face. Later he would say that he had not cried since he was 10 years old. Now his anger and pride were being washed off, and at that moment Carlos invited Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior into his life. That is where the Lord did the first miracle in him.

That day, after Carlos dedicated His life to the Lord, he couldn’t wait to go home and share his experience with his mom. She also received Jesus into her life, and for a year they were able to go to church together until she passed away from cancer.

During that time much reconciliation took place within his family. Carlos rejoices knowing his mom is resting in heaven with her Lord, and that brings him comfort. God has mended his relationship with his father and now they enjoy spending time together. Recently, the Lord has blessed Carlos with a wonderful wife. He is a contented man, no longer filled with anger, but walking in the peace of God.

As Carlos was learning so much about the Christian life and desiring to know his spiritual gifts, others would comment on his voice as he sang during worship, telling him that he had a beautiful voice. He was surprised and encouraged to hear that. He knew he felt good when he was singing to God, but was that really his voice? It sounded pretty good! With encouragement he began to explore voice lessons. He was lost in worshiping his heavenly Father and knew in his heart that his purpose was being fulfilled.

As this relationship grew deeper, God began to gift songs to him, not just downloading the lyrics but the music as well. Carlos knew this was a miracle from God because he could feel the power flowing through him, as songs would be written sometimes within five to ten minutes. It was the divine creativity of God, because he knew couldn’t do it on his own.

Shortly thereafter, the pastor of his church put him in touch with a recording producer. They began working together and within three months Carlos recorded his first album, PODER (power). He now travels to other churches sharing his love of God, giving Him all the glory, honor and praise. Carlos would be the first to say that, without HIM, he might not be here today…for he was created to worship.

“I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples. For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let glory be over all the earth.” Psalm 57: 9-11.

Today, Carlos has produced two Worship CD’s. His story is one of the chapters in Testify the Book. Next month, the Blog will feature the testimony, “Chosen for Your Glory.” Please feel free to send these testimonies out to someone who needs encouragement. When we share a  testimony we create an expectancy to see God, do it again!

In April, I was working on the Sierra Madre fire. It was an early-season fire that threatened surrounding structures. As a fire captain I normally run inmate hand crews. This time I happened to be on an engine. While fighting this fire I started feeling sick with a cough that wouldn’t stop. We worked on controlling the fire for three or four days. When that was done I went directly to a twenty-four-hour clinic to hopefully get some antibiotics to make the cough go away. The doctor gave me a prescription. She also ordered a chest x-ray that would change the next fifteen months of my life.

My wife, Jill, reminded me that I had been coughing several months before with bronchitis and the cough never really left me. So, then, it was a done deal.

I had the chest x-ray and a few days later I am back at work. I never heard anything from the doctor about my x-ray and I was feeling better. So, like any other person I didn’t give it a lot of thought. Hey, no news is good news!

That morning, I took the crew on a hike and when I got back my wife called and said they found something in my lungs.  The doctor wanted me to go see a pulmonary specialist and have a CAT scan.  I told my boss what was going on.  I had to wait for relief before I could leave. I had some time to kill while I waited, so I called my good friend.  He had been my friend since third grade and is also my brother in-law.   I told him what was going on and I said, “I do not want to go through this crap again!”

Nine years ago I had a benign brain tumor the size of a tennis ball.  That happened right before my wedding. Not fun, but I thought, here we go again.  Instead of fighting fires, I began a fight for my life.  I made an appointment with my doctor who had scheduled a CAT scan that would give more details than the X-ray.  The doctor said the spot on my lung was serious and could be anything from pneumonia to the worst…cancer. These doctors don’t mess around! They don’t want to tell you anything that might give you false hope.  Thankfully, I had friends and family in my life that spoke words of hope and encouragement. One good friend said to me, “Jeff, God told me that everything is going to be O.K.”  And then he prayed for me.

The next few weeks took me through various tests, which included a lung biopsy.  This one scared me. I knew that to do the biopsy they would have to puncture my lung.  Immediately, I thought of all the complications that could happen! Being a fireman, I have seen people with punctured lungs, chest tubes and struggling to breathe.

It does NOT look fun. During the procedure I was praying and five separate times God said to me “Jeff, everything is going to be O.K.”

Contrary to what God told me the doctor put it to me bluntly, “I’m sorry Jeff, it does not look good. You have stage four lung cancer.”  He told me he had consulted with an oncologist and wanted me to see him ASAP.  My mind went racing a million miles an hour thinking of what was going to happen to my wife, my two boys and the rest of my life.  I felt horrible for my family. I felt I had let them down and would be putting them through all of this again. One thing I was confident about, I knew I would be going to Heaven! But, what to do until then?

Jill and I began to cry out for help.  That night our pastor, friends and family came to our house.  They laid hands on me and prayed for healing in my body.  The room was overwhelmed with emotions. Right then I made a decision to let go.  To really give this cancer to God and let him deal with it.  God is in control.  So I was off work until further notice. This was a new thing for me.  I loved being a firefighter but now that I have mandatory time off, I realized that I had put work first.  I took this time as a free pass to enjoy my family and friends and live every moment of life to the fullest.  Over the next couple of months I received a lot of chemo and a lot of prayer.  So many friends prayed and even shaved their heads in support.  Even after all the chemo I never lost any hair. We all enjoyed God’s sense of humor!

Those good friends laid their hands on me and we prayed that God would take all my burdens. From that moment on, for the most part, I was at a peace.  Any time and any place I could get prayer, I would.

Twelve weeks of chemo and all the waiting aside, I went in for my first pet scan. I was not scared.  I had ambitions of being totally healed. After the scan, both techs came in and stated that they did not see any obvious signs of any tumors or cancer. They, of course, put out the disclaimer that they are just techs and the radiologist can see a whole lot more in these pictures.  I was excited to hear that!  These guys had remembered me from my earlier pet scans and thought that I had the most amount of cancer they had ever seen in a picture!  Now what they were looking for did not exist.  I gave God the glory!

I had my follow-up appointment with my oncologist.   He said we had really good results from the chemo and that 98% of the cancer was gone! I said Amen!  My doctor’s plan was to go for 100% cancer free.  He decided to continue with chemo and radiation.  I was still relying on God.  I held onto one scripture throughout this struggle, “Because He loves me says the Lord, I will rescue him.  I will protect him.  For he acknowledges My Name.  He will call upon Me and I will answer him.  I will be with him in trouble.  I will deliver him and honor him with long life.  I will satisfy him and show him My salvation. Psalm 91: 14-16.

This struggle with cancer had lasted almost a year.  I do love God and he has rescued me.  He has delivered me.   All confirmed when I heard my doctor declare, “Jeff, there is NO cancer!”  Again, I give ALL the Glory to God! He is so awesome! I now live cancer free.  I do not know why God healed me specifically.  I met two other guys who were diagnosed around the same time as me, who had families with children and they both passed away. One of them was a Christian brother. I guess if God wants me to know, I will find out in heaven someday.

I believe God wants to use me and I wait patiently so see what He has in store for me. For now I share my story whenever possible and tell people to have hope and to pray.  Pray, pray, pray like they never have before and receive prayer any time they can.

That kind of sums it all.  I’m back working as a Fire Captain and doing the same thing any other man would if he had seen his life flash before him.  I have a new creed; God first, family second and then work. I know not to make work my idol, anymore.  I have been a Christian a long time. As God walks along side me, these fires refine me.

Jeff shares his testimony on page 95 in TESTIFY the book!

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