This is my testimony, the short version. I wish I was a better writer and was capable of writing a book on my experiences. Keep in mind, what I am about to write is but a fraction of my experience. Plenty other bad stuff, as well as spiritual stuff happened along the way.
Back in 2015 I had a mole removed which turned out to be melanoma. Had a biopsy done on my sentinel lymph nodes. I received the bad news that all the sentinel nodes had tumors in them and I needed to come back to have all the lymph nodes under my left arm removed. It was Stage 3 metastatic melanoma. Not good.
There is no chemotherapy they can administer with Stage 3 melanoma, in fact there isn’t a very effective chemo for it. The only thing the doctors would do was to do scans every 3 months and resect any tumors that may arise if operable. My doctors brought up a new trial that was about to begin, and I qualified for it. I wanted to be more proactive then just wait around for it to show its ugly head. So I agreed to the trial.
I knew very well of the dangers of the trial. It was a double blind study with new immunotherapy. the drugs were Ipilimumab and Nivolumab. The Nivolumab was to be given at 1mg per kg and the Ipilimumab was to be given at 3mg per kg of body weight. So in short, the Ipi was given to you 3 times the recommended dose. I am sure to find out the tolerances of a human. Given the side effects and weighing my risks, I decided to do the trial.
Mistake! Or at least I thought it was after I had bad side effects start after 10 months into the trial. I developed autoimmune hepatitis. That is where my immune system starting attacking my liver. Without suppressing my immune system, I would have died of liver failure. The course of treatment was to use high doses of corticosteroids to suppress my system. The treatment wasn’t working like normal. They had to keep upping my dose of prednisone to 500mg per day. Which is extremely high. I was also given a drug called Myfortic, which is used to suppress immune systems in organ transplant patients.
I was on this regiment for almost 2 months. Needless to say, I was immunocompromised. I had blood work looking for infections weekly. I am skipping past a lot of what happened in between, even though it was amazing, there is simply too much to explain in this account. One trip, one of many, to the hospital, I told the doctor something wasn’t right. I could tell. Besides the fact that after taking that amount of steroids for that long, I was losing my ability to walk. Steroid induced myopathy they called it.
My doctors ran another blood test, which came back negative on infection. To my dismay, they sent me home. Four days later my parents rushed me to the hospital. I don’t remember much of it, but I remember getting to my Oncologists office and my doctor asking me
“What do you want me to do?”
She was just going to send me home. At that point my dad said, “Hey doctor, look at him, he is dying.”
At that point I began to spit and cough up blood. The doctor came over to me and grabbed my face and looked into my eyes. It looked as though she had seen the devil. I distinctly remember the fear in her eyes. She quickly got me admitted to the emergency room and asked for a fungal infection test. It came back positive for Rhinocerebral Mucormycosis. Yeah, I never heard of it either. It is very rare, very aggressive and very deadly.
Emergency surgery was scheduled immediately. The surgeon came in and explained my dire situation. He said without aggressive surgery of my sinuses, brain, and palate, I probably wasn’t going to survive. He asked me the question “how far do you want me to go? The suggested course would be to remove your palate, orbital socket, sinuses, and a portion of your brain.”
I told him that if I wake up, I do not want to be disfigured and to do as much as possible without disfiguring me. I said that I would leave it in Gods hands. I will say, that at this point in my life I wasn’t very Godly. I was a sinner. I had no reason to believe that God would come to my rescue. I do believe that Jesus is the son of God and he died on the cross for our sins. That is about all I knew.
The Doctor nods at me, knowing what I meant. He looked at my father, who was right there by my side and gave him a nod. So off to surgery or death I go. Next thing I remember is the doctors trying to wake me. They got me off as much sedation as they could to ask me the question one last time. The surgeon says to me, “Dennis, you just had surgery to your sinuses and it doesn’t look like we got it all and you also have an abscess in your brain as well as 80 percent of your lungs are filled with aspergillosis.” He asked for permission to do aggressive surgery that I knew would only leave me disfigured. I asked what was the alternative, and he replied that I had maybe a few hours to live.
The jokester in me replied “That is a no brainer doc, no surgery.”
I then asked my dad as I pulled the breathing tube to the side “Dad, I would like to see a minister.” I fell back into sedation to be awakened by my dad telling me that the priest was here. I looked over and saw the priest standing there. I whispered to my dad that I didn’t want a priest but a minister and to tell the priest no offense. To people reading this I mean no offense either, but I am not Catholic and wasn’t ready to be read my last rights.
Shortly after that a woman from the hospital chapel arrived. I don’t remember exactly what was said before she got started, but the room was cleared and I believe she asked me if I were a Christian. I told her that I believed that Jesus is the son of God and he died on the cross for our sins. I am not sure if I repented or not. I assume that I did, because I had done a lot in my past that needed Gods forgiveness.
As she grabbed my hands I started to feel very emotional and started to cry. At this point is where my life changed forever. I had my eyes closed listening to her prayer when I felt the room lower. I looked up and saw the hospital room lower, leaving about a 2 foot opening at the base of the floor and the wall around the entire room. The opening illuminated with a beautiful gold light. The light was in millions of particles coming out of the wall towards me. The light surrounded me and began to spin around me like a vortex. The light started wrapping me tighter and tighter.
To this day, I have no idea why the only thought I remember thinking was that nothing could harm me. I even imagined an atomic weapon going off beside me and felt in no danger. I had a feeling of protection I have never felt before. I closed my eyes as she was finishing up her prayer. I felt so at peace!
When I opened my eyes and wiped the tears away, the light was gone. I asked the minister if she saw what I just saw. She said she did not. I thanked her vigorously for bringing God to me. She said that she didn’t bring him to me and what I experienced was what God meant for me to experience. As she leaves, the doors open and my family came in with some long time friends. I didn’t mention what I had witnessed.
Everyone there was there to say goodbye to me and allow me to say goodbye to them. I interpreted what I saw as a sign that it’s ok to pass on, that God will be waiting for me on the other side. I never in a million years would have thought that the Lord was there to save my life. I said my goodbyes and was ready to fall asleep and join the Lord in heaven.
Next thing I remember is waking up a couple days later and looking at a nurse with bewilderment. She says to me “it is amazing you are still with us” I smiled and responded “not just amazing, but divine intervention.”
Soon after that the surgeon came in and says ” hey there! One of one” I shrugged my shoulders in wonderment. He said to me that I am quite possibly the only survivor of that disease with that amount of severity that didn’t have aggressive debridement surgery, ever. If anyone reading this is a doctor, they probably understand the chances of my survival. My doctors still say that I am one of one. I still had a long road of recovery and will never be the same or pain free.
Earlier I mentioned that doing the trial was a mistake, well it was the best mistake I have ever made. To this day I wonder why God chose me to save, while many other people who lived holier lives than I, God did not choose to save. Maybe he wanted me to share my testimony. So here it is. Maybe someday I’ll find someone willing to help me write a book on my experiences.
A lot more happened to me over that period, and if anyone wants to read it can go to my profile and go back a ways to the beginning. I shared a lot of what I went through. I’ll leave with these 3 basic but powerful words…
GOD IS GOOD!!!!