Life After Cancer and Death
Lonnie Honeycutt, Reverend
Life After Death
When I died on February 16, 2008 I had no idea of what my life would be like afterwards. To be honest, I didn't give it much thought. Now that I've been alive again for just over a year I have a few reflections I'd like to share.
For the most part, life has been good. Although there are aspects of living that have taken a toll on my physically. Actually, the physical aspect of life is about the only thing that has been a 'downer.' It's not just that I'm physically impaired (which I am) but that the one aspect of life that I'm drawn more to now than before I died and went to Heaven is the one that seems to allude me to some degree. I'm speaking, of course, about the relational aspect of life. To be more specific, I'm talking about finding and maintaining relationships, friendships, with others.
To be certain I've had more chances to preach and teach since I returned from Heaven back in February 2008 (I've actually taught as several Vineyard Churches as well as Assembly of God churches and even a couple of Baptist churches since my life after death experience). Still, what I honestly desire is a good, workable relationship with others and these seem to be few and far between. Perhaps it's because the world in which we all live in is so skeptical of people who seemingly want a deeper relationship. Perhaps it's because we all seem to be so preoccupied and busy with 'living life' that we've failed to have 'life in our living.' Or, maybe it's because people are uncomfortable with my life after death story or the fact that I survived Stage 4 oropharyngeal cancer? Whatever the reason, it's been difficult to develop new and abiding relationships with others. Still, I'll not stop trying to develop relationships with others because I truly believe that, as my friend David F. said, "relationships are the currency of Heaven."
An altogether wonderful aspect of having died and lived to tell about it is the life I've developed with my wife. Before I died we had a wonderful marriage. Today, we have an extraordinary marriage. Not only do I find that I treasure each moment my wife and I and our children have together, I've come to more fully understand the sacrifices she made and continues to make for me to live a happy life. I sincerely strive to help her do the same thing. I can only hope that one day I'll succeed in the way she has for me.
Part of the reason we have such a tremendous marriage now is because I've been able to assure her that there is no soul sleep after one dies. Instead, as Jesus told the thief on the cross and the Apostle Paul states, we are immediately translated into either Heaven or Hell upon death. Prior to my dying and being resurrected, my wife was terrified of dying for she had been told early on that dying was like going to sleep. This was terrifying because when she used to sleep she'd have horrible nightmares. Who would want to face such an awesomely dreadful death of a year, or twenty or, perhaps, a thousand years of nightmarish sleep? She certainly didn't. Of course, knowing that I met her mom, June, while I was in Heaven has helped calm her fears as well.
Another reason we've got such a dynamic marriage now is because I've got a renewed passion for life. Honestly, I think that dying and coming back from Heaven is the best thing that could have ever happened to me (with the exception of dying and staying in Heaven). The passion for life I speak of has permeated every facet of my waking hours (from the time I spend in prayer, to how much I care for others, to how often I remember to thank my wife and my children for just being who they are).
Dealing With Cancer Phobias
Without a doubt the one question I get asked most often (besides, "What Is Heaven Like" is "Are you ever afraid that the cancer you had is going to return?" This is a silly question to ask anyone who has ever undergone treatment for cancer. Of course, you're concerned that the cancer will return. This isn't to say that I truly believe it ever will, but it is something that I think about -- especially around the holidays or whenever a doctor's visit is coming up (or when I have an unexplained ache or pain). Do I believe that I've been irrevocably healed of cancer? Yes. Does my fear denote a lack of faith on my part in the God who saved me? Absolutely not. I think that such fear (which is fleeting at worst) is simply a part of the human condition. I can honestly say, after having gone through all the savage pain of chemo and radiation therapies, that I would rather be given cancer than to have anyone else ever go through such treatments. The reason I say this is because I lived through all the pain and I know I could do it again and that if I ever had to do it again I'd praise God through it all -- just like I did the last time. Still, no one wants to go through the kind of pain I did and I certainly wouldn't wish it on my caretaker (my wife) again for anything in the world. But, I'm certain that should I ever undergo an attack of the type I've already survived, that my wonderful wife would be at my side.
Dealing With the Trauma of Cancer Treatments
The most aggravating aspect of cancer treatments is having to deal with the pain one goes through for months to years afterwards. For me it's already been nearly two years since my first surgery and a year since my last radiation and chemo therapy treatment and I'm still having some amount of pain caused by all three. For instance, I still don't have working salivary glands (well, that isn't entirely true -- about 20% of the salivary glands work) and my tastebuds are still on the fritz. This means that I wake-up several times a night just to get a drink of water (or to go to the bathroom because of all the water I have to drink) and that a constant companion is a bottle of water or some other liquid. Without water and gum I'd have a constant sore throat and would become hoarse very quickly. Also, as I've said many times to those I've spoken with, I'm in 24/7 pain due to the fact that my juglar vein was removed along with 6 inches of muscle tissue and a nerve from the left side of my face and neck. What this means, primarily, is that when I raise my left hand to catch a ball or to praise God that it feels as though my funny bone is being crushed. Still, I wouldn't trade any of the pain because just about every time I feel it, I'm reminded of what God did for me back in early 2008 with I died and returned.
So, all in all, my life after death experience (near death experience, death experience, NDE or whatever you want to call it) has been a good thing.
With all the above being said, if you'd like to read about my death, my resurrection, and my life since that the time I died of respiratory arrest, cardiac arrest, stroke, and brain death, you can do so by ordering 'Death, Heaven and Back' (by Lonnie Honeycutt) from Amazon.com.
In Christ's Love,
Death, Heaven and Back (The True Story of One Man's Death and Resurrection)
Lonnie Honeycutt's book on his life after death experience. Death, Heaven and Back takes you on a journey of a man's battle against cancer, his untimely death, his visit to Heaven and why he returned to earth.