Book Review of Heart of Iron: My Journey from Transplant Patient to Ironman Triathlete by Kyle Garlett

heartI started reading this book expecting an inspirational story wrapped in the context of training for triathlons and, if I’m being honest, I got much more than expected. Kyle Garlett is a cancer survivor. His story details his first discovery of lymphoma as a high school student and the prolonged battle that followed. In spite of his battle with reoccurring cancer, Garlett managed to get a college degree and build a career for himself in sports television. I was over a hundred pages in when I realized there had been no mention of triathlons – instead, I found myself engaged in Garlett’s battle. I found myself rooting for him and stunned by the battle he fought. This story will certainly impress upon you the battle that cancer represents and you will learn to appreciate those who have fought that battle.

Garlett’s battle eventually led to a heart transplant. The treatment he received for cancer destroyed his own heart and necessitated a new one. Not only did Garlett fight that battle, he recovered. And yes, his story does eventually lead to competing in triathlons. His spirit to not only survive, but thrive, is one we can all learn from.

I highly recommend this book.

My Wife's Cancer Scare

Have you ever watched someone face devastating news such as cancer with a confidence and peace that astounds you? Recently, I have been following the battles of two well-known Christains via the internet; Michael Spencer and Matt Chandler. Both have handled their situations with a boldness that can only come from God. I have found myself wondering on more than one occasion how they can provide such a good Christian example in the midst of such terrible news. Recently, I was blessed to witness an example of such Christianity up close when my wife, Stefanie, had her own cancer scare.

Stefanie had some concerns about one of her breasts and made an appointment with her OBGYN who scheduled some tests. We weren’t overly concerned because by all indications we had nothing to worry about. In one day, however, what was once a slim chance of cancer became a 50/50 chance and a biopsy was scheduled. Every part of me wanted to break and panic and I was amazed at how my wife responded to the news! She was as calm as I have ever seen her. Stefanie responded with such a calm that could only have come from outside herself.

When I asked her how she handled everything with such peace she told me she could feel Christ’s presence with her during the tests. She knew that her family and friends were praying for her and leaned on those prayers and Christ. Her example was inspiring to me and I wanted to share some of the things I witnessed to help the rest of us follow her lead.

First, Stefanie was committed to her relationship with Christ long before she was confronted with bad news. On a daily basis my wife communicates with her Lord. She confesses her sin and delights in His forgiveness and grace as much, if not more, than anyone I have ever met. Because of this ongoing relationship with God she was quickly able to lean on Him for support.

Secondly, Stefanie has an amazing ability to quote Scripture. Her recall when it comes to God’s Word has alway amazed me and I noticed her drawing on Bible verses often when she needed reminded of God’s Word. This seemed to comfort her and remind her that God was with her at all times. It seems that most of the tough questions we tend to ask in the midst of trials have already been answered through Scriptures … it helped Stefanie to know the answers before she found herself asking the questions. 

My wife also seemed to put the needs of everyone around her ahead of her own. In a moment where no one would have blamed her for focusing entirely on her self,   she was intent on keeping everyone else calm. Not only was she continually reassuring her family (myself included), she also made it her mission to witness a Christ-like example for those medical workers she came in contact with.

Finally, and this is perhaps the key ingredient in all of this … we requested prayer from anyone who would listen. There were several churches, friends, and family members praying for Stefanie’s condition. It was amazing how many people seemed to crawl out of the woodwork to pray for my wife. It was a blessing to me, and I am sure to Stefanie, to see how many people genuinely cared for her. I learned through this experience to never be afraid to request prayer … it works!

In short, Stefanie’s response to her cancer scare was inspirational and I was blessed to witness it up close. Thankfully, the results are in and my wife does not have cancer. After the news, Stefanie rededicated herself to a relationship with God that allowed her to respond in the way that she did. I thank the Lord for her example and the witness she provided for our chidren and friends. It was quite the blessing!