In an instant my life changed from a newlywed college student to being the spouse of a woman, Rachael, fighting for her life. Through playing sports competitively throughout my life, I was used to the game-time mentality and living up to it, though in this moment, I felt scared and didn’t have a clue what to do.
We were Seniors in college working towards our degrees in High School Math. There were dreams of completing our degrees, moving from North Dakota back to our hometown in Montana that were in an instant gone. Rachael was now diagnosed with brain cancer and what felt like a moment before was a great plan for life was completely gone. It was February 2009.
The whirlwind of emotions and doctors sharing their thoughts made me feel lost and looking to the #1 source of information, Google. In spite of my faith in God during that moment I did what most of us do when we are searching for answers, I looked online to figure it out. This of course led to the further doom and gloom feeling of is Rachael going to survive this.
Over time things started to change for me when I was sitting in Rachael’s intensive care unit when I felt that God was telling me I needed to change something. So I began writing and looking deeper into the bible stories of people going through struggles looking for any inspiration I may find. Things were definitely changing slowly for me. Finally, the big moment in which I realized the way I was acting trying to work through this experience needed to change is when Rachael’s doctors came in post surgery and told us that Rachael’s cancer wasn’t the low grade treatable kind they thought, but it was in fact the worst possible brain cancer; it was a Glioblastoma. My heart absolutely sank and the feelings of dread came flowing back, however in that moment Rachael spoke up and said, “let’s get started then.”
This was one of those moments that is often described as a defining moment in a person’s life. Rachael had basically just been dealt a death sentence, yet she decided instead of being doom and gloom that it was time to get after it and fight it with a positive attitude. At that moment I felt my attitude and hope change. I will be honest, it was not an instant change, but it was now moving in the right direction.
The next several months were filled with rehab and treatments and back and forths from of over 180 miles each weekend. Things were going ok until an MRI about 6 months later showed that the treatments were not working and the cancer was growing again. Immediately the doom began to feel like it was setting back in. However, Rachael kept her positive attitude and with a change of treatment things began to change. The cancer was beginning to shrink.
Fast forward to June of 2012. Rachael and I are getting ready to graduate college with degrees in Education. In addition to Rachael successfully completing her degree in spite of going through cancer treatments for the first of the 2 years we were at college, she was now pregnant with our son Michael. This was huge for us as not only was Rachael told she would only live about 18 months at most, but also if she did live longer she would never be able to have kids. Things were definitely moving in the right direction.
The next 2 years were full of me starting a teaching career and Rachael staying at home and taking care of Michael. There were the occasional reminders of her cancer, the MRI’s every 4 months, the seizures when she would become too stressed, and the daily medications. However, life was going pretty well and we were looking toward the future again and enjoying life, both the big and little moments.
Since things were going so well and Rachael was doing so good we decided that we should try for another baby. Michael was 2 and we felt we were ready to take on another one. Almost immediately Rachael became pregnant and we were super excited and ended up telling all our family real quick. However, within a couple of weeks things were not good and Rachael was experiencing pain and decided she best go in as it did not feel right. The doctors did an ultrasound and there was a heartbeat so we figured all was good. Less than 2 weeks later Rachael ended up back at the doctor and we found out we lost the baby. We were both devastated and felt like the doom and gloom were back at the forefront.
Once again though we decided to focus as much as possible on the little things. A few months later we found out that Rachael was pregnant again. This time we waited a while longer before telling anyone and asked for a lot of prayers when we did. December of 2015 we welcomed Camdynn into our lives. However, the enjoyment of living life and feeling good was shorter lived this go around. At about 4 months after Camdynn was born Rachael’s doctors decided she was doing so well that we could move her MRIs from every 4 months to every 6 months. The first MRI after was devastating as they told us her cancer was back and based on what they saw if we didn’t act fast within a year the results would be catastrophic.
We spent the next year trying everything we could including treatments, getting on clinical trials, and Rachael wearing a special device that was hopefully going to keep the cancer from growing. All of this failed and on Christmas 2017, Rachael experienced the best Christmas waking up with her Lord and Savior as I was living through the biggest nightmare of my life. I was lost and didn’t know what to do.
Throughout Rachael’s battle, I had found writing as a channel for me to express my thoughts. Which was a shock since I hated writing throughout school and was often given a hard time for my poor grammar. However, during Rachael’s first go-’round with treatments I had written my first book which helped me a lot to process everything. I had started a second book around the time Rachael’s cancer came back the second time and as things got worse it went on the backburner understandably. As the months passed by after Rachael’s death I would attempt to write, but it wasn’t going well.
About 7 months after Rachael passed away I met the woman who became my strongest supporter. At first I wasn’t sure how to feel except for the fact that Tasha had an electric smile that pulled me in such a way I couldn’t help but pursue. Over the next month we spent time talking about our lives and struggles that we had both experienced with losses of our own, me with Rachael and her with her dad. We shared our hopes for our lives and expectations for what we wanted in a life partner. This was all crazy considering we hadn’t even met yet face to face, only through text, phone, and video chat. Finally, after a month of talking we finally went on our first date and my life was forever changed.
As our love grew rapidly, we were met with looks and silence as a form of rebuke for our love. Many felt it was way too soon to have found someone and that I should still be grieving. While I still missed and will always miss Rachael, my grieving was different than those around me. I realized that I needed to do what was best for me and the boys. On Thanksgiving of 2018 I proposed to Tasha on her first trip to Montana and she said yes. The struggles continued with those around us feeling like we were moving way too fast, but once again we chose to trust our beliefs and faith. We got married on June 14th the same anniversary that Tasha’s parents have.
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That fall I was unable to get a full-time teaching position. This was very hard for me as I grew up with a strong belief that we should work to provide for our family. During this time Tasha pushed me to get back to my book and finish it. Through her pushing me and supporting me I was finally able to finish my book, Defeating the Unbeatable. In January of 2021, it was officially published. In spite of the many ups and downs life threw at me through these different trials, I learned probably the most important lesson of my life and the basis behind the title to my book. In spite of the struggles we have going on, we can choose to let them consume us or we can acknowledge them and still choose to enjoy the little things in our lives.
There are different “seasons” we experience when going through hard times. With this in mind and my love for baseball, Defeating the Unbeatable is split up into key seasons that baseball players go through over the course of their careers. With biblical connections and first-hand accounts I share my experiences and takeaways on how I feel you can not only endure the difficult times, but see joy and thrive even in the harshest times.
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In spite of the struggles we have going on in our lives we can choose to let them consume us or we can acknowledge them and still choose to enjoy the little things in our lives.
If you are interested in ordering your own copy or for someone you know who is going through difficult times please visit my website. Also, if you would like to connect with me for support or to connect and share your story, please go to my website and fill out the contact information, I would love to connect and hear your story.
Revelation 2:10 states “Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown."
You can thrive even in the depths of hardships. Love your family, love God, and Defeat the Unbeatable.
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Defeating the Unbeatable. Story of how to enjoy life even when death is at your doorstep.
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If you are struggling through a season of difficult times and not sure where to turn this book is for you.
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