Smoky Mountains Sunrise

Monday, January 16, 2017

Gary Glenn's Greatest Battle

Gary Glenn
You have read about Gary Glenn on these pages before.  We believe he is one of America's most promising political leaders.  

Gary was elected to the Michigan House of Representatives in November 2014, representing the 98th House District serving Bay and Midland counties. He serves as vice chairman of Michigan's House Energy Policy Committee and on the House Commerce and Trade, Military and Veterans Affairs, and Tax Policy committees.  In 2015, the Michigan Information and Research Service, Lansing's oldest daily legislative news service, selected Gary from among 55 first-term state representatives and senators as its MIRS "Freshman Legislator of the Year".  In the current session of the Legislature, the Republican House Caucus selected him as Associate Speaker of the House Pro Tem.  But it was in this past year, while never missing a vote, committee meeting, or caucus in the state House that Gary, with God's grace and the help of a loving wife, waged the greatest battle of his life.  Following is the story of that battle and the testimony of a valiant soldier of Christ.

Life changed one year ago today, January 15, 2016, when I stopped by Mid-Michigan Medical Center on the way to my son's basketball game for a quick MRI to locate what was expected to be a herniated disk that was causing severe pain in my leg. Never made it to the game, as they walked me from the MRI to the Emergency Room instead after what the MRI found was stage 4 "metastatic" cancer -- specifically, a tumor that had eaten away an entire vertebrae and broken my back.
Further tests indicated that the tumor had originated in my prostate, with a very high PSA score of 348 (anything over a 4 being considered a warning sign of cancer). After five heavy radiation treatments over the next six days, the PSA score had dropped to 100. My personal physician called that a "near miracle."
In the days that followed the front page news of my diagnosis, we know thousands of prayers were offered on my behalf -- from Midland Baptist (my church) to the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem to a Catholic mass in Washington, D.C., to dozens of other churches in Michigan and beyond that wrote to say they'd put my family and me on their prayer lists.
The House Republican caucus didn't just pray, but laid hands on me and prayed. And five weeks after being diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, the University of Michigan Cancer Center told me the cancer was in remission, with a PSA score of 0.2. (If dropping from 348 to 100 was a "near" miracle, what was dropping four weeks later to 0.2?)
The first night in the emergency room, the neurosurgeon said he'd have to perform surgery to insert a titanium cage into my spinal column to replace the destroyed vertebrae, and fitted me with a back brace -- to hold me together? -- in the meantime. But as we watched the X-rays over the next four months, we saw the black hole in my spinal column where a vertebrae used to be start filling in again with white. A new vertebrae has since grown back out of nothing. (Since multiple doctors told me that doesn't happen, and it caught a brain surgeon by surprise, what do we call that?) In May, he told me to take off the brace, work my way back into normal activity, and he didn't need to see me again. A few weeks ago, I played basketball again for the first time in over a year.
But all that was the easy part. After they told me I was in remission, UM Cancer Center said they still wanted me to undergo five months of chemotherapy to help ensure the cancer doesn't start growing again, or least delay the time until it does. That was the brutal part, worse than the cancer itself. Steroids. Hormone drugs. Chemicals whose purpose was to damage and destroy my cells. Incomprehensible weakness. Gaining nearly 60 pounds and ten inches on my waist in three months.
Not only pretty devastating physically, but certainly a lifestyle shock to a guy who'd kept in shape, worked out, chopped wood for weeks every fall, played basketball twice a week, and otherwise held the old man body at bay through age 57. But, praise the Lord, at least I'm still standing. And I hope to call back the mental toughness and discipline of Army basic training and football and track practices of years past to work my way back to the condition I was before.
Through all the above, I never missed a vote, committee meeting, or caucus in the state House, but only because my wife Annette drove me back and forth to Lansing for five months when I was, literally, unconscious. The steroid high of the chemotherapy would keep me on my feet for the legislative session days Tuesday through Thursday, then I'd crash hard when the steroids wore off, Annette would drive me home to go to bed each Thursday night, and I wouldn't get up again until the following Tuesday morning to go back to Lansing. Only by God's grace and provision of strength, "lest any man should boast" -- and Annette's sacrifice of the time she'd planned to spend at home with our youngest child the last year he'll be living with us -- was I able to continue to do the job to which I'd been elected.
Now, six months after the last chemo treatment in late July, my hair is growing back, my strength is slowly returning, I've lost some of the weight and inches, and the PSA score is now less than 0.02, the lowest it's been yet.
I'm thankful. To my wife. To my children. To my mother and sisters. To my friends. To my pastor and my church. To legislative colleagues who helped hold me up. To all of you who prayed for and encouraged us over the last twelve months. To all the doctors and nurses and technicians at Mid-Michigan Medical Center and the UM Cancer Center.
And most of all, for the healing power of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, called down by thousands of prayers on my behalf, Whose faithfulness sustained and strengthens me for the challenges ahead. I look forward to discovering whatever work for which He's kept me this side of heaven, because I believe we are all here for a purpose, and so long as the Lord gives me breath, I intend to fulfill mine.
Please continue to keep my family and me in your prayers, and may God bless and keep us strong for the fight!

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