Blog : A Call To Faith

John Patrick (J.) Thomas is a four-time cancer survivor who lives with his family in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina. Jay attended Gettysburg College and The American University before embarking on an entrepreneurial career on Wall Street. Jay turned to the teaching profession after his life-threatening bout with bone cancer. Below is the link to the interview with Inspire University.

Porter-Gaud hosted its first Relay for Life on Friday night and raised almost $7000 for The American Cancer Society. Around 300 students, faculty, and parents participated in the event organized by Director of Community Service Gretchen Tate and her service leaders. While Porter-Gaud participates in Relay for Life each year, this marks the first time we have hosted an event. The entire track was lined with more than 450 luminarias, each representing someone connected to our School Family who has been affected by this terrible disease.

Students played games on the field, and when the sun went down, the lights went off and the wonderfully moving Luminaria Ceremony began. A representative from the American Cancer Society was on hand to offer information about where these funds will go and the lives that will be affected. The crowd heard from Ben Schools, a Porter-Gaud Junior who recently battled cancer. He thanked his peers for their tremendous support.

After the ceremony, cancer survivors took to the track, followed by family members and care givers. It was truly a night to be proud of. Our School Family shined brightly in the darkness as we celebrated the survivors, encourages those still battling the disease, and mourned those who have been lost.

Author J. Patrick Thomas has penned a new ebook entitled, “Four Time Cancer Survivor!,” which was adapted from his amazon cancer best seller, “A Call to Faith.” The following is an excerpt from the story:

I had just been contacted by a man from London who had recently purchased my full length story, A Call to Faith, the Journey of a Cancer Survivor. He told me that he read on the back cover of the book that I had said, “Cancer was the best thing to ever happen to me.” This man had just been diagnosed with cancer several days before picking up the book. He emailed me and told me his account of the story, and asked me, in a somewhat jovial way, how could I ever say such a thing. Believe me, it’s not the first time I have gotten that question. He was new to the disease and only beginning his own journey. I was a four-time survivor of the disease and had a different perspective. Let me explain.
Young and aggressive, beautiful wife and children, and had amassed a small fortune before the age of thirty. I had it all – or did I? In actuality, I never knew my biological marine aviator father who died in a helicopter crash. I had a younger sister who committed suicide in college. The witnessing of God when I needed it most. But my toughest battles were still ahead of me; finding my faith through cancer and divorce.
The events that unfold before you in my life are true to the best of my recollections. The triumphs and tragedies and everyday occurrences that take place in my life are very real.
Unfortunately, suffering is a part of life, but fortunately there is hope to counter balance the pain. Anyone who has survived cancer, lost loved ones, and witnessed family deconstruction has a story to tell. I am just a regular guy who lived such a life. My successes are not unlike your own, and my recrudescence of difficult issues afflicts the everyday man or woman. The undercurrent of stress and mental health concerns from cancer trouble many of us, including me.
If we live long enough, events will transpire that we would rather not witness. All of us will go through the good and the bad that life has to offer. But they say that it is how you react to trying times that matters, not the times themselves. Perspectives change and can go in either a positive or negative direction.
The second coming of faith in my life, I believe, allowed me the resilience necessary to fight the physical and emotional battles that came my way. My salvation was transcendental and led me to a better place. Everyone must find that place, be it of secular or nonsecular means. Faith is espoused repeatedly throughout this journey because it is my belief that faith is the reason that I persevered.
This is my story, but it could be your story as well.

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What happens to a nominal Christian when confronted by a diagnosis of Ewing’s Sarcoma, which has an average survival rate of less than 50%? J. Patrick Thomas, writing in third person about the “fictional” character Malcolm “Skip” Sibley tells his story about the trials and blessings of having cancer in A Call to Faith. Skip was an outgoing Wall Street financier who had “retired” with over a million dollars to raise a family near Charleston, South Carolina. Although they had been married over 20 years (married young), Ashley and Skip had two young children, a girl of 5 and a newborn son. Then the unthinkable happened.
The trials

The shock of the diagnosis of cancer is bad enough. However, Skip’s cancer went from being originally diagnosed as a relatively mild reactivation of an old thyroid cancer to actually being a primary metastatic bone cancer—one that rarely afflicted adults and had a much poorer prognosis. Besides the mental anguish, J. Patrick Thomas describes in detail the physical suffering and rigor of being treated for cancer. Being a gregarious type, Skip made friends with a number of the other people in his shoes, some of whom lost their battles. Often more difficult to deal with than the treatments are the reactions of one’s friends and family upon a diagnosis of cancer. Although one would normally expect love ones to be supportive and helpful, not everyone reacts that way. Some just want to get away from a painful situation, while others try to ease their misery through depraved behaviors. Thomas gives a very honest appraisal of the complex interactions of himself and his loved ones as they reacted to trials and tribulations of cancer and its aftermath.
The blessings

When one hears the word cancer, blessings are not something that naturally come to mind. However, the blessings are there for those recognize them and take advantage of the opportunities God provides. For Skip, his nominal belief in God became real, along with opportunities to serve others through the insight obtained through his own experiences. Skip became an advocate and supported of others through a volunteer ministry to cancer patients. Another blessing for Thomas was the writing of this book, which he hopes will encourage other cancer patients to persevere through the trials and discover God’s blessings in spite of the pain.
Personal observations

Having been involved on both ends of a serious medical diagnosis, I can relate to much of the content of A Call to Faith. I received a diagnosis of Crohn’s Disease (an incurable autoimmune disease of the intestines) in 1985 and suffered for many months before I was miraculously cured. The physical pain was intense and the prospect of spending the rest of my life in such a condition was nearly as unbearable as the pain. On the other side, I have been a caregiver for my wife Carole, who was diagnosed with an astrocytoma grade 2/3 brain tumor in 1996, with an life expectancy of 3-7 years. Like Mr. Thomas, we had young children (3 boys, age 5, 3, and 1). The idea of raising three active sons alone was quite a concern. So, not only the patient suffers, but the loved one of the patient must deal with their own issues. Despite the challenges, we have experienced blessings as a result of the diagnosis. Carole went from being somewhat materialistic to being a mature, evangelistic believer intent on helping all those who God led her way. Her prayer was that God would help her “grow up.”
Conclusions Top of page

A Call to Faith is a personal, honest story of a cancer survivor. The writing style of the book took some getting used to, since you are thrown into several parallel stories and characters that are interwoven. Eventually, I got everything lined up and became “part of the family.” Even though J. Patrick Thomas survived the cancer, the story did not have a fairy tale ending. None of us know how long we will live, so we should live as if today is our last. “Cancer” is the last word we would ever want to hear, but sometimes it wakes us up to what is important in life. J. Patrick Thomas found God and a calling as a result of his experiences. Still, being cured didn’t solve all his problems. Yet God gives us the time we need to accomplish His purposes for our life. God bless you, Mr. Thomas. May God inspire you each and every day until He calls you home.