Bob Bruce: Taste and See
By Kara Lavengood Pogue
The 700 Club
"The 'c' word is a devastating word. Your whole world starts crashing in."
Just weeks before he received the startling diagnosis, Bob Bruce had felt an unusual growth by his jaw line.
"There were two pea-size lumps there," Bob tells The 700 Club. "I thought those weren’t there before, I don’t remember them before."
Initially, he wasn’t worried. After three biopsies, doctors said the tumors were benign, but he should still have them removed. What should have been a routine surgery revealed the tumors were cancerous. Bob’s wife, Gloria, was in the hospital waiting room when doctors delivered the news.
Gloria recalls, "It was a big shock. It was just overwhelming, when you get the cancer diagnosis as to what to do. We didn’t have choices."
Bob required another surgery almost immediately. Doctors removed the cancerous masses and the affected lymph nodes and saliva glands. Tests showed that he had an extremely rare and fast-growing cancer of the salivary glands. At the time of his diagnosis, there were only 31 known cases of this cancer in the world.
Bob says, "It was so dramatic and came so fast and was so aggressive that it had a profound impact upon both Gloria and I."
Bob and Gloria did the only thing they could do. They prayed for his healing.
Gloria says, "We asked for prayer from every conceivable place that we knew about. We were on everyone’s prayer list. All of our friends and our church family and The 700 Club. People were praying for us."
Doctors fought the cancer with multiple surgeries and aggressive radiation treatments.
"I had 35 treatments," Bob explains. "I got through seven or eight of them thinking this isn’t going to be bad at all. But it’s very accumulative. By the time it was over, I was a very sick, sick man."
The cancer treatments appeared to be successful, but they left Bob with chronic pain and discomfort. His taste buds were destroyed. The opening of his throat was reduced to the size of a ballpoint pen. He had ulcers in his mouth and throat.
"I could not eat anything. After about 400 days, then I was able to take some pudding or yogurt, but it felt like I had a knife in my throat. Anything that passed that was just too excruciating. So I went on a 434day fast. I was sustained by a tube in my stomach with an 8-inch, 8-oz can of a boost, but it’s prescription, very powerful."
Because Bob’s salivary glands were removed, he had to sip water continuously to keep his mouth moist.
"I had a cotton mouth 24/7. My mouth was so dry that my tongue would cling to the roof of my mouth. So also, when I would lie down, my nose would get clogged up. I’d have to breathe through my mouth, and that was not good. I slept for two, almost three years in a chair sitting up. It was an extraordinarily tense time, very difficult as all of these things were just coming one right after another."
"He never gave up faith that the Lord was going to see him through regardless of whatever that meant," Gloria says.
Bob continues, "We knew that we were in the hands of God. It did not lessen any of the pain, any of the suffering, any of what we had to go through, but nonetheless, we had a peace and that peace was beyond understanding."
After two and a half years of pain and suffering, Bob was in for a surprise.
"We were worshiping. While in worship, I felt the presence of God come over me," Bob says. "I know the presence of God, but never like this. I knew that I knew that something was happening. I was being miraculously touched and how did I know that? Because for the first time, I had saliva come into my mouth where there were no saliva glands where they were either eradicated or they were surgically removed. I had a reconstructive miracle going on in my life. I could feel the saliva for the first time. It was just there."
Gloria says, "When Bob told me that saliva was present as we were sitting there in church and that he hadn’t touched his water bottle the entire service, I knew that it had to be a miracle."
Their pastor Alan Wright of Reynolda Evangelical Presbyterian Church says, "We had no idea how this could even be possible except that God had done some sort of creative miracle. So we just praised the Lord together."
Bob’s ulcers disappeared, his taste buds were restored, and he was able to swallow.
"I could start eating anything and everything with no restriction. I was like a kid in a candy store."
Bob’s doctor was now able to stretch his esophagus close to its original size though he can’t take credit for the new salivary glands. Dr. William E. Austin says, "I don’t know of any way that they could, that we know of that salivary glands could regain their function.
He does have function. Medically we cannot explain that."
Bob has been cancer-free for 10 years and is still praising God for the power of prayer.
"I just wanted to commune with the Lord and thank Him and know that He did it, and no one else ever did it. To Him be the glory!"
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