Home Diagnosis Updates Merch Contact

Two Years Later - It Is Well

Recounting two years living with cancer.

feature image of Two Years Later - It Is Well

In early March, our family of 5 traveled to Orlando for a much needed getaway. Inheritance of Hope, an organization that cares for families facing the loss of a parent, sent us on their signature program, the legacy retreat. It’s a time designed to create a memorable experience for families with young children in our circumstance.

Alberts at Disney Alberts with Mickey

With more than 45 families, we enjoyed fun-filled days at Disney World and Universal Studios. IOH provided two full-time volunteers to assist with our kids. Luke and Natalie were on a mission to ensure we had a blast! Three additional volunteers from the lead sponsor, Kendra Scott, joined us as well. They were thoughtful and kind, helping us navigate the weekend and constantly spoiled 😃 our boys. This team left an indelible mark of love on us and labored to provide a once-in-a-lifetime experience we would never pursue on our own.

Strolling with the team

I had heard of the thought and care IOH puts into these retreats, but the experience surpassed our expectations! Hopefully it’s conveyed through some of the pictures!

The weekend was more than fun at amusement parks. We were welcomed with a dinner party, pampered through a night out with other parents, and encouraged during intentional sessions alongside families to process our experiences.

IOH dinner party

IOH at magic kingdom

It was comforting to share vulnerably with others who have walked in our shoes. I was moved by the suffering so many face, yet encouraged by their resilience and camaraderie.

A recurring topic among those of us facing terminal illness, was how discouragement comes from multiple angles. From recurrence setbacks, treatment side-effects, struggles with insurance coverage and finances, to absorbing well-intentioned, but not-so-helpful comments people tend to make. One sharp remark made me laugh when someone shared “I tell people who remind me that we all can all get hit by a bus tomorrow, that the bus 🚍 doesn’t follow them around everywhere they go!” There was a lot of laughter and head nods. It felt like the room could go on endlessly sharing similar versions too.

Personally, I have struggled with comments too, but over time, I’m coming to empathize with those who don’t have refined words of encouragement, or anything to say at all. Grief ripples out from those who face cancer and death. There are no rote words to recite. Often the best moments are when someone simply says "I love you" and gives a hug.

I’ve found myself more reliant on God’s word to express my own thoughts, emotions, and needs. Nancy Guthrie’s book I’m Praying For You has been a helpful resource. It summarizes 40 prayers from the Bible for those facing suffering. She is a seasoned and trustworthy counselor on the subject.

Managing Change

My cancer diagnosis was a sudden change that has inverted our life. The last two years have been a lot to manage as family roles shifted and we accommodate my monthly travel overseas.

Our boys have endured this season and been a joyful reminder of God's grace. Accepting that life is no longer what we imagined has been really hard. We hold our breath every 9 weeks as MRI results can deliver more life-altering news. It's hard to "be still," but there's a blessing to know this life can't satisfy my ultimate longing.

The last two years have held up the mirror showing my limits and mortality. The dissatisfied longing for something beyond this world rings louder. My prayer for years and decades as a husband and father fall far short of what my soul truly longs for.

It Is Well With My Soul

Familiar psalms and hymns have helped complete this broken melody humming in the background of my life. For me, "It Is Well" captures the sorrows of loss and the highs of hope that resolve in the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ.

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If dark hours about me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

- Horatio G. Spafford, 1873

While my cancer remains stable, I am hypervigilant over how quickly things can change. Pray for me, that "whatever my lot" turns out to be, I'll take heart knowing it is well with my soul.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Phillip Ferrell (@ferrellphillip)