Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Story of Zac Stice

This is the story of Zac Stice.
No doubt a cancer diagnosis is a life changer, your schedule changes, your family has to make changes, you may even have to travel regularly or move to a different area. But it doesn't all have to be negative. I was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer in December of 2013. At the time I was an engineer working in research and development, a husband of 2 years and father of a beautiful 1 year old son. Needless to say the news changed a lot of our plans. I had a port installed in my left chest on Christmas Eve by a fantastic surgeon and then started a chemotherapy protocol on January 3, 2014 in Tulsa at St. John's. After a few treatments there I started researching the best opportunities for me which eventually led me to a great Oncologist at Stephenson Cancer Center. Fortunately my job allowed me to pick up and move to the Oklahoma City area to pursue treatment there. The best advice I can give is to advocate for yourself, find a treatment plan and facility that works for your specific case, then find balance in your life. Do not let the treatment control your schedule any more than necessary, continue to be active, keep your routine as well as possible, your body needs to stay strong.

No matter the diagnosis it's important to keep a positive attitude through it all and try to find the positives in your new lifestyle. Beyond being a disease it is more importantly a unique life experience that you get to endure and you should take the time to learn about it, and make the effort to be educated about your condition and treatment. More importantly develop the empathy for what the people around you are going through and how you can do little things to make others lives better.

Zac Stice

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Goodbyes Are Never Easy

I just got home from one of the hardest things I've ever had to do.

We all know death is synonymous with cancer, but when you see a good person and friend suffering at the end of their fight it feels even more like an atrocity.

In early 2013, during my chemotherapy  I began distributing Cancer Care Packs to patients in the chemo room fighting beside me. During one of those"Care Pack Runs" I met Zac and his mom. Zac was my age, just barely 30, and fighting colon cancer that had metastasized to his liver. Zac and I connected through our shared struggle of battling cancer at a young age, and I grew particularly close to his mother who I loved through prayer and frequent conversation.

This past Monday I received word that Zac was put on Hospice. As I left the Cancer center today, where Zac and I first met, I received a text from his mother stating  Hospice said he was fading  fast, and asked if I would come to see him. My strength and FAITH immediately felt faulty, and I was overcome with emotions, anger, and grief.

During my 45 minute drive to Norman I prayed for strength. I wanted to be strong for Zac and his family as they'd shown such grace and strength through a very unfair situation. No amount of prayer, however, can prepare you for the first time you lay eyes on a friend who is very near death. Zac had gotten so bad so quickly, and at that moment I almost wasn't sure what to say.

I had stopped on the way down to buy Zac a "Clinging Cross". It is something I used during my own suffering, and made to easily grip in your hands. It also comes with a poem...

"When my mind is fuzzy and eyes filled with tears, I will think about your suffering Lord and now that you are near". When I recited those words Zac quietly said, "boy I need to hear that".

As I placed the cross in Zac's frail hand and gripped it tightly between mine I began to do the only thing I could, pray...

"Lord you are limitless, you are not bound by death, or cancer, or any trial we face on this Earth. Lord you love my friend Zac, and have promised him a Heaven that is so perfect it is beyond comprehension, and our wildest dreams. Lord, you overcame death on the cross, and the evil that thought it had won when you were crucified, dead, and buried. You conquered death and rose again, promising to go before us and make a place for all who believe in you, and ask for forgiveness. Lord be near Zac, send your best angels to bring Him into your presence. His fight has inspired many".

Until we meet again someday Zac!


These are just the beginning of all that he does, merely a whisper of his power. Who, then, can comprehend the Thunder of His Power? Job 26:14