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July 19, 2003
Column #1,142

"Nothing To Fear The Key To Cancer Survival"

     Larry Burkett is best known for his radio program "Money Matters." He also wrote a stunning 70+ books, of which 11 million copies have been bought.

     His most recent book, "Nothing To Fear: The Key to Cancer Survival," is profoundly moving -- perfect for anyone who has the dread disease. It underscores better than any book I've read, the absolute centrality of faith as the most powerful engine of cancer survival. I write this as a cancer survivor, myself.

     In March, 1995 Burkett was stunned to learn he had cancer - renal cell carcinoma or kidney cancer that had metastasized or spread to his left shoulder blade. Before learning the correct diagnosis, he was told by various orthopedists that the pain in his shoulder was bursitis, a rotator cuff tear, arthritis, and one nearly convinced him to surgically trim a small bone, under his collar bone. Days before the surgery, as the result of prayer, Burkett called it off.

     This is a layman's guide for dealing with what are often incompetent physicians. "I believe the wisdom to refuse the procedure...came directly from the Lord," Burkett writes. "God simply provided the wisdom I needed when I needed it (see Proverbs 12:15)."

     Burkett learned to research his disease on the Internet, where he found the survival rate for his type of cancer "was very, very low when treated with traditional therapy." He found that traditional cancer treatments are "very dangerous," such as chemotherapy which pours poisons in the body. I know. It almost killed me.

     When he explored alternative cancer therapies, he found he could not get them because they had not been FDA approved! Burkett fought and changed the law in Georgia (and seven other states) so that alternative therapy can now be given, if administered by a licensed physician.

     "Don't ever presume that you can't change the status quo," he writes. "Passion is the key to getting things done."

     Burkett learned that 95 percent of those with his cancer die within two years.

     Cancer sparks fear - fear of death, of the unknown, of the lack of control, of the financial cost. Burkett concluded that "Fear is simply the opposite of faith. Faith is the belief in something greater than we are. `Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world'" (I John 4:4).

     But how does one replace fear with faith?

     "The way fear is conquered is to face it through faith in Jesus Christ. His promise to us is that `I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you' (Hebrews 13:5). Remember, `Death is a transition in eternal life, not a tragedy of termination,'" he wrote quoting John Bunyon.

     But his faith was not a blind faith that simply trusted God to heal him: "Remember that you are responsible for your health; the doctors are not. They can provide consultation, knowledge, advice and procedures, but you must ultimately make your own decisions."

     At first he trusted doctors too much. They had him undergo two surgeries, one to remove a kidney, and a second, his shoulder blade which he later regretted when he learned there were other ways to treat tumors. They did reappear.

     On the Internet he learned of an immune therapy given in Prague. He talked to 10 Americans who took it and lived longer than expected and with a good quality of life.

     After undergoing that treatment, he made other changes: drinking filtered and ozonated water, eating white meat of chicken, a little fish and very little red meat. When tumors reappeared in 2001, he froze one and "fried" another with an "ablation."

     He learned key principles: "Accept God's authority as absolute...There must be a reason for everything He allows in our lives...Don't be angry and don't blame God...Focus on getting well," not on "dying gracefully." In fact, he played golf with one arm, and played well.

     "Pray a lot, read a lot, and praise a lot."

     A deeply committed Christian, Burkett built his financial counseling on the 2,350 Bible verses that deal with money and possessions. Therefore, in facing his cancer, it was natural for him to turn to I John 4:18: "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear."

     On July 4, Larry Burkett declared independence from his body. However, he did not die of his terminal cancer which tested him for eight years, but of congestive heart failure.

     Near the book's end, he quotes Paul: "We exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint" (Romans 5:3-5).

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