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Back to School and Cancer-Free!

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By In the flurry of preparing for back-to-school, one local is especially grateful to be on campus. Fort Bend resident Joshua Martinez, an assistant principal at Janowski Elementary in Houston, is a devoted husband of 33 years and father to four grown children. We are privileged to share his medical journey as he faced a cancer diagnosis – and successful treatment. 

IMG_4089Foreshadowing Faith  

Joshua’s faith played a large role in his life before his diagnosis, and an even bigger part during his treatment and recovery. “The Lord was prominent throughout my battle against cancer, but even a few weeks prior to my diagnosis his work was evident, although I would not realize it until later,” he says.

As an educator he enjoyed reading in the summertime, and in May 2012 his search for books seemed especially difficult. Nothing piqued his interest until he discovered “The Question of God: C.S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud Debate God, Love, Sex, and the Meaning of Life” at his local library. Chapter nine addressed the subject of death was as impactful as anything he had ever read.

Lewis stated that we as Christians probably don’t believe that heaven is as great as the Bible depicts it, since death scares us. “It caused me to deal with my beliefs about the afterlife in a much more profound way than ever before,” says Martinez. Little did he know that the Lord had just given him an introduction to a real life lesson. He was about to tackle the possibility of death, up close and personal.

A Son’s Recommendation

His son, while in medical school, encouraged both Martinez and his wife Berta to get colonoscopies as a precaution due to their age. When the results came back with a diagnosis of colorectal cancer for Martinez, he says, “I knew immediately that I would be going to MD Anderson.” Less than a month later, he was seeing Dr. Sunil Patel, oncologist at the MD Anderson location in Katy.

The initial diagnosis was given after a colonoscopy in June. Martinez recalls getting the phone call and gathering the family afterwards to pray that it wasn’t cancer. “I was in denial and convinced that there was not definitive evidence that I was sick, and that an ultrasound would prove it,” he notes.

Following a very painful ultrasound he asked the doctor when he would know if it was malignant or benign. “At that moment I realized my confusion (or denial) as both the doctor and my wife looked quizzically at each other. The doctor said clearly to me, “You have cancer.”

The Great Physician

Martinez held back tears until exiting the medical facility. Then his wife hugged him and reminded him that God is the “Great Physician,” and that they should trust Him. That was only the beginning.

“This was, above all, a spiritual experience,” explains Martinez. “And I can point to a number of times where the Lord used my family, healthcare team, and situations to reveal His merciful love to me. Being in this situation now is also an answered prayer as I have the opportunity to share my story.”

IMG04A Hero at Home and Beyond

Martinez has been busy over the past year and a half with his cancer treatment. Since July of 2012, he has undergone chemotherapy and radiation, followed by surgery to remove part of his colon, and an additional six months of chemotherapy intravenously.

Today Martinez is cancer-free and says he owes it all to God and His ambassadors – meaning the medical professionals who treated him and his family and friends who ministered daily. His wife was with him every step of the way, attending all appointments to take notes and helping to change their diet at home to speed up his recovery.

Each time he had a chemo treatment, one of his daughters gave him a different superhero t-shirt to let her Dad know he was her hero. He still wears the shirts on a regular basis as a reminder of the battle he went through, and that he is survivor.

Back to School

Now Martinez will tackle the new school year with a clean bill of health, which has caused his family, church and campus family to rejoice. His testimony is that God, indeed, is the “Great Physician” and works through prayer and the efforts of a supportive earthly team.

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