When you are diagnosed with cancer, it is like being thrown into a boxing ring with the heavy weight champion of the world. The first punch, “you have cancer,” takes your breath away as you realize you are in the fight of your life. Nothing prepares you for this fight; fear is in the forefront. It is in this moment, and those months that follow that the foundations of faith become the bedrock of your fight. Though, family and friends cheer for you in your corner, you are in the ring alone, with no training, battling the opponent of your life…it is hard. To rise up and fight takes courage; to win takes a miracle.
Our high school assistant principal Doug Smith and his wife Kay knew that miracle. Kay fought this dreaded champion and won. It was a sweet victory; a relief…but this opponent was not down for the count, and rose up again more vicious than ever. This time the gloves were on Doug’s hands. It was Kay’s turn to cheer in the corner as the tag team partner of her husband. The fight began suddenly when Doug went to the doctor because of a headache. Test results showed brain cancer; in advanced stages, and the prognosis was bleak. It is here, that the foundation of faith that had been built during Kay’s illness began its test. The disease progressed rapidly, reeking havoc on Doug’s body. The treatment was aggressive, as were the prayers for a miracle from friends in the community. What the disease did not damage was his spirit and the faithful family that surrounded this man. To the end, they fought and faced this foe, but in the end, Doug died. Round two of this battle ended this past Thursday at 9:00.
At the funeral home, there were slides that showed pictures of Doug’s life. He lived it to the fullest, hiking, taking trips, and fishing with friends. Even with his illness, he worshiped God from his chair as friends played music around him. He treasured each moment, a lesson learned from his wife’s battle. He was a dedicated educator in our community that loved working for the good of the students he served. He was a husband and a father to the family that loved him dearly. He is buried, his well-worn Bible by his side…a man of faith that trusted God with his very life. It does not seem right that Kay would survive her fight only to loose him to his. This is where the hard questions come in and the platitudes go out. There are no easy answers when grief is so near. Faith is shaken to the core, as hope flickers and fades, and then sparks again.
Round three will come, and we know already that the Lord will win that battle. No tears, no pain, no sickness, it will be a glorious day. On that day, cancer will be no more…knocked out by God’s Champion. Until then, we remember Doug as another victim of the heavy weight. We respect his fight. We honor his life. He will be missed in our schools and by his friends. We pray for his family as they recover from this fight and ask that God would hold them close to his heart.