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Dear Pastor Sam,  Today I checked out your website for the first time in a month or more.  It was such a tremendous blessing, that I know without doubt that it was  God’s direction that led me there. 

A quick review of what’s been going on with the Bartons:  In July I  noticed an ulcer on my tongue.  After 6 weeks it was still there and was  getting rather painful, so I decided to have it checked out.  In late  August a biopsy was done, and it was determined to be a fungal  infection.  After two months of anti-fungus medicine, it was no better.  In fact, it was worse and had become increasingly more painful.  A  second biopsy was done, and it was found to be cancerous.  The following  week a CT scan was done, and it showed enlarged lymph nodes on both  sides of my neck.  

Cancer often spreads quickly from the mouth to the  lymph nodes.  After another few weeks of enduring great pain, surgery  was done on November 29 in Little Rock to remove the cancerous tumor in  my tongue, and to remove the many swollen lymph nodes.  It was about a  6-hour surgery.  The tumor was larger than they had expected, and about  40% of my tongue was removed.  They also made a necklace-like incision  from ear to ear to remove the swollen lymph nodes.  I was in the  hospital for 5 days, 4 nights.  Four days later Candy and I returned to  Little Rock, and got the wonderfully surprising news that there was no  cancer in the lymph nodes that had been removed!  The lab report also  showed clean margins around the tumor.  Therefore, no radiation or  chemotherapy will be required.  It was a wonderful early Christmas  present from the Lord!  I was really on a high that day we got the news, and we had seen a  significant amount of recovery during that first week.  

Since then, I  have settled into a not-quite-as-fun mode of much slower recovery and  the daily battle of pain management.  There was extensive unavoidable  nerve damage done in the neck during surgery, and that causes pain and  discomfort in my neck, shoulders, and chest.  I am also trying to  re-learn how to eat and speak clearly again with the newly sized and  shaped tongue (speaking is getting better, eating is not).  I have been  on about 4 different kinds of pain medication, and a couple of days ago  I decided I really needed to get off the strongest one, a narcotic, and  it has been a challenge.  I know these nerves are going to take several  weeks to heal and I want to be patient, but I do long for having a  pain-free day for the first time since early summer.  

I have fought  against self pity and have tried to be diligent in seeking and staying  neat to God throughout this process.  Some times are easier than others. 

This morning the Lord put you and Ruthe on my mind.  I was thinking  about the many months and years of pain you two had to endure after your  car accident.  I realized that I had not visited your website since  sometime before the surgery, so I checked it out.  Within a few minutes  I knew that it must have been the Lord prompting me to go to your  website, for He greatly blessed me.  

I smiled at the Billy Graham /  Albert Einstein story, I chuckled at the acapella singers, I enjoyed the  Matthew genealogy, I needed Bishop Ryle’s comments, I wept  uncontrollably while watching The Choice and the New Again videos, and  was greatly moved by the other stories, and loved the Chris Tomlin and  Gettys songs.  It has been like attending a wonderful church service.  It was amazing how little I thought about my pain.  In fact, I felt none  at all when seeing the clip from the Passion of the Christ.  

Man, did I  need this! Well, this email is a lot longer than I had thought it would be.  Some  people talk too much; I have a tendency to write too much.  The bottom  line is this:  I don’t know how much time you spend working on your  blog, but I thank you from the bottom of my heart for every minute of  it.   

I am very  grateful for you, and for the Lord crossing our paths.  May you, Ruthe,  and your wonderful family have a most blessed Christmas! 

Your brother in Christ, 

John Barton


One Comment

  1. Thanks for sharing Pastor Sam, and God bless you and your family John. Hearing your story makes me realize how insignificant my supposed “big problems” are. Its also wonderful to hear how you continue to rely on God, His mercies, and His sovereign will…..Again, God bless and you and your family will continue to be in my prayers. Merry Christmas

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