September was Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, cancer is the leading cause of death around the world. Each year, 12.7 million people discover they have cancer and 7.6 million people die from the disease. Each of us either has a friend or family member that has cancer or we have battled the disease ourselves. The three words, “You have cancer,” are life changing. Greg Murtha, former Chief Relationship Officer of iDonate.com and the co-founder of the Halftime Institute decided to have a positive outlook when he was diagnosed.
While many would deem a terminal cancer diagnosis and multiple heart attacks utterly tragic,
Murtha saw his diagnosis as a blessing that helped him slow down, enjoy life and share God’s love with as many people as possible. He could only reach so many people in person so he took to social media to encourage others and wrote a book called Out of the Blue to share his journey, encouraging readers to live life to the fullest and discover God’s purpose. Sadly, on June 22, 2017 just days after completing the book, Greg passed away from complications due to the cancer. His wife, Tracey, is on a mission to continue to share his amazing story.
“My life didn’t go as planned. Not even close. Cancer interrupted it. And that’s a good thing because, without cancer, I would have never embraced the joy of following Jesus with reckless abandon or experienced the exhilaration of sensing the promptings of the Holy Spirit. In God’s grace, he allowed me to get so sick I had to slow down, abandon my plans, move out of the way, and learn to trust him by just being.”
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.” James 1:2-8
Before his diagnosis, Murtha was the epitome of worldly success, having co-founded a company, bought a home in an upscale neighborhood and achieved peak physical health. But a surprise diagnosis of late stage cancer forced him to refocus his life and, in turn, profoundly change it for the better. After his diagnosis, Murtha points out that his life’s calling became one of enriching and impacting the lives of those around him, no matter if it was in the grocery store aisle, while away on vacation or during his chemotherapy treatments.
Murtha explains the premise behind his book.
“’Out of the Blue’ is not a what-happened-next book. It’s a blend of wisdom unearthed from Cancer Road paired with a collection of Facebook blog posts that, to my surprise, have deeply resonated with people over the past five years.”
Throughout the book, Murtha discloses personal stories of how God used his situation to bring Christ to those who might not otherwise seek Him. Through reflection and personal social media posts, Murtha shares how God used him and made his life extraordinary. Many of his Facebook posts, which resonated with many across the nation while he was alive, are included in “Out of the Blue.” Murtha’s challenge for anyone reading his book is to celebrate every day on earth, view interruptions as opportunities to play a role in God’s ultimate story and to do what God prompts.
Serve someone. If you have a friend, family member, or someone at church that has cancer, ask them if there is a way that you can serve them. From making a meal to driving them to a doctor’s appointment, there are many ways that you can help them. It might even be committing to helping them on a consistent basis. Some cancer patients might not have family in the area and might need help getting groceries, cleaning their home or keeping them company while they receive chemotherapy. Check with your church to see if they have a ministry that serves the needs of cancer patients and their families and how you can be involved.
Pray. Pray for healing for someone you know that has cancer. Take time this week to give them a call or meet with them and see if there are specific things that you can pray for. Then commit time during the week to pray for that person and their needs. Listen to the Holy Spirit for direction.
Leave a legacy. Whether you have a terminal illness or you are healthy, each of us has the ability to leave a legacy. Take time this week to pray and ask God how He wants you to leave a legacy for him. It could be investing in relationships, starting a ministry or giving back financially to a ministry or non-profit. A legacy does not happen on our death bed. Instead, it happens throughout out our lifetime.