From a statement I made to my friends at First Baptist Church in Asheville today:
I need your prayers for wisdom and for courage as I deal with some hard news I have recently received.
Over the last week or so, following an array of tests, I have learned that I have multiple myeloma, a cancer that, as best I understand it, is bound up with the bone marrow and the blood, causing blood cells to carry too much of an unhelpful protein. On this past Thursday, I learned that I will need to enter a season of assertive treatment, involving drug therapy here in Asheville and a stem-cell transplant at Duke. While there is currently no cure for this kind of cancer, there are many reasons to hope for a strong remission.
Damage to bones and to kidneys are part of the corrosive effect of this cancer. I have neither, for which I am so grateful. My leading symptom is extreme fatigue, related to the anemia which the bad blood cells cause. I am young to have this disease; its onset is typically in people about 10 years older than I. I am fortunate to be in pretty good shape otherwise, so I enter treatment with anxiety but not without resources on which to draw.
I have a really fine doctor, Ron Friedman. I am in good hands. I have the loving support of family, friends, and this wonderful church. And, I am finding that the words which I have used to offer encouragement to others ring true to me in this hard place.
My colleagues on this church staff have been amazingly gracious in their support. They and I are working to put plans in place to cover my responsibilities when I cannot fulfill them and for that season of several weeks when I will be at Duke and then recovering from the stem cell transplant. We will have more to say about those plans as they get settled.
I met with Scott Hughes, our Deacon Chair, on Friday, and he could not have been a better friend to me or representative of you than he was.
So, just as I am in good hands, you are too.
I have set up a Caring Bridge site (http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/guysayles). That is where I will update you on treatment as I know details. It is linked to our church website. The Caring Bridge site is where I will also want to receive any of your digital messages.
Pray that I will be wise and courageous—wise in decision-making about treatment and about my use of time and energy. Courageous in my willingness to love and be loved. I am not used to being in the position I am now in. I get to learn many lessons about myself, about God, and about the mysteries of mercy and the power of weakness and about the joy of vulnerability. I want to be curious, open, hopeful and humble. I am on an adventure I didn’t expect would begin now. As I take this journey, I am sustained by my conviction that God does not cause our trouble and pain, but God loves us too much to waste them.
There is a lot to learn