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CBN.com Its hard for parents to imagine outliving their children, but its a reality the Gravell family faced when their only son, Mark, got cancer.
"Eighteen months was what he thought I would continue to live before the disease came back, before it re-manifested itself," says Mark. "I had to go through the whole process again."
Doctors told Mark that he would likely die within a couple of years. Mark had never thought much about cancer. He had always been healthy. After all, he was only 30. So when he started getting tired working his courier service in Minneapolis, Minn., he didnt think much about it. Then he noticed a growth under his right arm, and everything changed.
"It started out as a mole, actually," explains Mark. "It continued to grow, and if it hadnt become sore and eventually bled, I probably would have never gone to the doctor."
The mole was removed and sent for testing. When the results came back, Mark listened to his doctor in disbelief -- Stage IV melanoma.
"Just to hear that the pathology report came back and the growth was malignant, even just to hear that, was devastating," says Mark.
The news got worse. Further tests revealed that the cancer had spread to Marks liver, spleen, and bones. It was so advanced that even modern science had little to offer.
"Because I had waited so long to go into the doctor," Mark explains, "it was so far spread that almost all of their treatment options were experimental."
Marks parents, Lynn and Vi, took the news very hard.
"I felt like my heart had broken into a million pieces and my life had totally collapsed, because he was our only son and we hated to lose him," Mark's mother, Vi, says.
The best treatment, if successful, would only extend Marks life a short while.
Says Mark's father, Lynn, "I sat and talked with the doctor and asked, 'If he follows the treatments as you suggest, how much would that add to his life?' And the doctor said, 'I dont know exactly.' I said, 'Are we talking about a month or a few years?' And he said, 'a few months at the most.'
But Mark held onto his faith, especially one Scripture he felt God gave him as a promise: the 23rd Psalm.
"When I was feeling low, or if I was feeling scared, that was what I held onto, because God had said that it would be OK," Mark states. "This literally was the shadow of death cast over my life, but I believed in God."
Faced with a barrage of treatments, Mark decided to wait. He and his parents went to prayer. They asked everyone they knew at home and overseas, including The 700 Club Prayer Counseling Center, to pray. But Marks condition continued to decline. He couldnt keep food down and needed morphine to ease the pain.
"It was very painful to move, with the lower back pain and the pelvic pain. It was almost like my bones were broken," says Mark.
All seemed hopeless. But Marks parents also felt they had a promise from God.
Lynn recalls, "I was sitting praying, and I said to God, 'I dont want to lose my son.' He spoke back to me and said, 'I lost My son, too.' And I said, 'Yes, You did, but You raised Him up again.' He said, 'Your son shall also live.'
While in church, Vi heard a story about a master chess player. He was studying a painting called "Check Mate."
"He announced, 'This picture is wrong. The king still has one more move.' Then the pastor turned to the audience and said, 'Theres someone here tonight who thinks theyre in checkmate, but God wants you to know the King has one more move,' " Vi remembers.
Mark got worse. The tumor had grown larger than a softball. He was bedridden and had lost the use of his right arm. The night before his scheduled chemotherapy, Marks faith wavered.
"I was able to hang on to the faith until the very end. I was told by the oncologist, 'You need to start chemotherapy tomorrow. You need to get this going now if youre going to have any chance at all.' The night before, I absolutely broke down. I could not hold on anymore," says Mark.
Mark sought his fathers counsel. They prayed. Then in a step of faith, Mark put the decision in Gods hands.
I said, Ill give God one more night, but I have to feel significantly better. I have to feel something tomorrow morning or Im going for the chemo," Mark explains.
That morning the miracle had begun.
"I had been on morphine for the pain; I had been on an anti-nausea drug; I had been on several other prescription drugs," says Mark. "I felt good enough to not take those drugs, and that was the first time in close to three months that I had not used any painkiller -- thats how dramatic it was."
That same week he attended a prayer service where God put the finishing touches on Marks healing.
"The pain disappeared from the bones almost immediately," says Vi. "Then he was able to eat, and for the first time in six weeks, was able to hold everything down."
Every symptom completely disappeared, and Mark soon returned to work. The tumor eventually faded away. Mark received a complete physical and a clean bill of health. Mark believes that two things brought his healing: faith in God and prayer.
"That was the critical turning point, when I came to the end within myself and I had to go one step further. God saw that and He honored that faith. As far as the power of prayer, it moves mountains, because I came across a big mountain in my life and it was moved and cast into the sea," Mark concludes.
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