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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

Four Months to Live

By Robert P. Holland
July 25, 2010

In the spring of 1993, Fred Carpenter and his wife, Irene, were on vacation in Alaska when he started coughing. He thought he was getting a cold and it would soon pass. It didn’t.

Upon returning to his West Virginia home, he immediately made an appointment with his family physician, who prescribed an antibiotic for the cough and sinus infection. Though the sinus infection cleared up, the coughing continued.

Fred’s cough not only persisted, it also worsened. By Christmas Eve 1993, his son took him to an emergency medical care center. A chest X-ray revealed spots on his lungs. After Christmas, he went to the hospital for additional X-rays, scans and a biopsy. The tests revealed cancer in the left kidney and both lungs. The diagnosis was renal cell carcinoma, an aggressive cancer that spreads quickly from the kidney to the lungs and then to the brain. On Jan. 3, 1994, the oncologist told Fred there was no known cure for renal cell carcinoma, therefore no treatment was recommended. Fred, 68, was given four months to live.

The following month, Fred went to the James Cancer Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, for a second opinion. After extensive testing, their diagnosis was the same — renal cell carcinoma.

Wayne Dowler, a close friend, was in Florida when Fred received the diagnosis. Fred had called Wayne and given him the medical report over the phone. When Wayne returned home from Florida, he and his wife, Dorothy, invited Fred and Irene over for dinner.

By now it was April — the month the doctors had predicted would be Fred’s last. After dinner, April 4, 1994, Wayne read some Scripture and shared the plan of salvation with Fred. Then he invited Fred to pray and ask Christ to save him from his sins. Fred wasn’t sure about that, so he left to go home. But when he got in the car, he couldn’t leave. He went back into the house and accepted Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord of his life.

“Peace came over me like I had never experienced before,” Fred says.

Wayne and Dorothy were members of First Assembly of God in Parkersburg, W.Va., and they invited Fred and Irene to attend morning worship with them the first Sunday of April 1994. After the Sunday morning worship service, Fred said: “The love everyone showed us with hugs and handshakes is something you don’t forget.”

Fred and Irene returned the following Sunday morning. During the worship service, Wanda Perdew, a member of First Assembly, came up to Fred with a word of knowledge, a message of assurance received through prayer.

“You don’t have anything to worry about,” she told him.

Before leaving the church, another church member, Freddie Haddad, came to Fred and told him the same thing.

Fred thought to himself, Nothing to worry about? I have cancer in my lungs and kidney, and a few weeks to live! The following week Fred learned why he didn’t have anything to worry about.

The Appalachian District Council of the Assemblies of God met that April at First Assembly in Parkersburg. Fred and Irene attended the last evening service of the gathering with Wayne and Dorothy.

During the prayer time, people were asked to raise their hand if they had a prayer need. Fred raised his hand. A lady in the row in front of Fred, a woman he had never met, turned around, took his hand and prayed for him. Wayne and Dorothy, as well as others, also laid hands on him and prayed.

While they were praying, Fred said he felt heat go through his body. At that moment, he knew something wonderful had happened to him, and he couldn’t wait to get the results from his next tests.

After the monthly round of tests, Fred went back to the oncologist in May. He was greeted with smiles and good news: There was no cancer in his lungs! It was confined to his left kidney and hadn’t spread to his brain.

At his 28-month checkup, the oncologist told Fred that he had lived two years longer than anyone else with renal cell carcinoma. Fred himself knew three men who were diagnosed with renal cell carcinoma after his diagnosis, and all three died within four months.    

Surgeons at the Cleveland Clinic removed Fred’s left kidney on June 14, 1996. Tests following surgery showed that Fred was cancer-free, and he has been ever since. Neither chemotherapy nor radiation therapy was recommended.

Fred says he is often asked how many radiation and chemotherapy treatments he received. “I tell them none,” he says. “I had one treatment, and it came from God.”     

When Fred went back for his 10-year checkup, the doctor who did the first biopsy and diagnosed him with renal cell carcinoma told him, “Man could never do for you what has been done for you.”

Fred is thankful for his salvation and healing. John 11:4 is one of his favorite verses of Scripture: “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby” (KJV).

“Every time I get the opportunity, I share my testimony so that God will be glorified,” Fred says, who has been sharing his testimony for the last 15 years.

Both Fred and Irene enjoy camping, and Holly River State Park in central West Virginia is one of their favorite places to camp. During their stay at the park, Fred shares his testimony with people from various church backgrounds, as well as with people who don’t attend church.

Fred is now 84 and in excellent health. The only medication he takes is one low-dose aspirin a day. Fred retired from DuPont as a refrigeration mechanic and often helps at the church with electrical and mechanical work. He and Irene are regular greeters at First Assembly, and they greet the people with hugs, smiles and handshakes just as they were greeted on their first visit.

ROBERT P. HOLLAND is the associate pastor at First Assembly in Parkersburg, W.Va.

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