Victory over Leukemia; Faith trumps disease
Life should have been sweet for Mike Pursell. The young pastor was in the prime of life. At 33 years of age, he had a beautiful family — a lovely wife and three adorable children. He was living out his calling and had no reason to suspect that he had an enemy that was about to pounce on him.
It began with a series of minor infections and moved into things like walking pneumonia and a serious weight loss. By December 2007, Mike decided to seek medical advice. The doctor ordered some blood work, which raised the specter of a life threatening malady. The physician informed Mike that they could be dealing with Leukemia.
This sent the pastor to an oncologist, who scheduled a bone marrow test. When the cancer doctor saw the results, he thought, “This fellow is a dead man walking.” Instead of the bright pink tissue characteristic of healthy bone marrow, Mike’s looked like rotten mush. Thus, in January 2008, he received a firm diagnosis. He had Leukemia.
The oncologist drew up a schedule of treatment for Mike. It consisted of three to five chemotherapy treatments. Each treatment would run for three days, 6-8 hours per day. Treatments would be separated from each other by 25 days.
Mike had his first treatment in January 2008. While he was waiting for the second treatment, he had to go each Monday to give blood, and on every other day he had to get a shot to revive his white blood cells. When it came time for his second treatment, the oncologist put it on hold. Mike’s white blood cells had not responded to the booster shots, so he continued to have blood work done each week and a booster shot every day.
By March, Mike began to wonder if there was going to be an end to this weary process, and then he received the first sign of his miracle. One of the ladies in his church came to him with some welcome news. She told him she had been praying for him and she had received an answer. She told Mike that his Leukemia was going to be “eradicated.” Not knowing the meaning of eradicate, Mike consulted a dictionary and found out that it meant to “destroy completely.” The young pastor filed that word away in expectation.
As July approached, the doctor began to see an improvement in Mike’s white blood count. He suggested that now might be the time for the much delayed second chemo treatment.
Mike took it under advisement. He told God he really didn’t want to endure another chemo treatment, but he would if that was what he was supposed to do. Soon, he got an answer. The doctor told Mike that there was a good chance another treatment would “eradicate” the disease. Eradicate! There it was, the same word that his praying friend had used — the one that got his attention in March.
Now in July, it grabbed him again. Mike took this as a sign to go ahead and have the treatment, so he informed the doctor. In July 2008, he had the much delayed second chemo treatment. By October, they wanted to perform another bone marrow biopsy.
Mike was asleep during this procedure, so he was unable to see the shock on the doctor’s face. The physician was looking at a perfect bone marrow specimen — so perfect that he called for his assistant to photograph it to illustrate what perfect bone marrow looked like. A few days later, Mike got a call telling him his leukemia had been eradicated.
Throughout his ordeal, Mike often asked himself, “Why me?” He also had to deal with fear from time to time. But he was always brought back to his faith and trust in God.
Today, he will tell you that one of the consequences of his miracle was a love for people, especially sick people. He also learned how important it is to reach out to people who are hurting.
In a conversation with this writer, Pastor Mike Pursell remembered his miracle with gratitude.
“The Lord is good, and His mercies endure forever. In January of 2008, I was diagnosed with Leukemia. I began to seek God concerning the wild news that I received from my doctor. The Lord showed me a few things in my life that I needed to make some adjustments in, so I did.
“As I was going through this process, I could see God’s mighty hand upon me during this time. I had no immune system in my body for about 12 months, and not one time did I get sick. Praise God! The nurses could not believe I was staying sickness free. I give God all the glory.
“In October of 2008, the doctor did another bone marrow procedure on me. He was amazed that my bone marrow was perfect. God had truly worked a miracle in my body. They called me and told me a few days after that test that I had no Leukemia in my body. They couldn’t find any!
“There is so much more to this story that I didn’t have time to write. All I know is Jesus is the healer.
“1 Peter 2:24 says by Jesus’ stripes we are healed. Jesus is the healer. He will heal you just like He did me. Believe His Word. I am so thankful for everyone at my home church who prayed and stood with me through all of it. God bless!”
Mike Pursell stopped seeing the oncologist in 2017. Now, he only sees a physician once a year for his annual physical.