Welborn: The rest of the story

Jan. 18, 2014 @ 05:00 AM

On Thanksgiving, The Herald invited local pastor and television personality Tom Welborn to share his thoughts about being thankful in difficult circumstances. In this narrative, Welborn, the pastor at Southside Baptist Church in Broadway and sports director of WBFT-TV46, gives an update on his experiences after being diagnosed with Burkitt’s lymphoma, a rare form of blood cancer.

One of the great broadcasters of all time was Paul Harvey. From 1976 until he went to be with the Lord in 2009, he had a radio program, which he called “The Rest Of The Story,” which shared the end of some story of which you have some knowledge. On Thanksgiving Day, I shared with the readers of The Sanford Herald our journey battling cancer. At the close of that article, we were thanking God for his strength and his people for their prayers and support as we were entering the final sessions of chemotherapy awaiting the final results. Now it is time for the “rest of the story.”

We sat around our Thanksgiving table and rejoiced in what God had done for us. The cancer was diminishing, and I was able to have Thanksgiving dinner with my family. It was a joyous time with my wife, my children, my granddaughter and my brother and sister-in-law. My niece, who is a missionary, Skyped us from Brazil and led us in our Thanksgiving prayer. We have a tradition that everyone around the table shares a blessing from the previous year. It was a great time, as it was the first time I was able to sit at a table in 10 weeks. My family was just thankful I was able to be there.

I had four chemotherapy sessions left at Chapel Hill, which finished on Dec. 16 with a closing visit with my head doctor, Dr. Vandeventer, on Dec. 18. During the 98 days of treatment both in and out of the hospital at Chapel Hill, I have so many people to whom I am grateful. Obviously, God is at the top of my list, but he used so many people to be a part of the healing process. I can never express the great care that I received at Carolina, although I had a Duke blanket on my bed every day.

I continue to have people come up to me every day and say, “ I have been praying for you.” It means so much to know that people are praying for you. We received such great financial support from our church, Southside Baptist in Broadway, from Grace Chapel, several other churches, old friends, new friends and people we still don’t even know. Thanks to all of you who have become such a vital part of Cheryl’s and my life.

It all culminated with that final visit with Dr. Vandeventer. We were able to thank the staff there for their help. The doctor made a great statement. He said that he had to encourage his patients to have “end of life” discussions with their families, but he said, “For people of faith like you, you know that the end of life is not the end of life.” There is hope; please feel to contact me at “wbft@aol.com.”

We received the final report for the three-month treatment period. The cancer is in remission. Praise the Lord, and thank you. Don’t stop praying. Now you know the “rest of the story.”