Meet Luke Hertzler
"Survivorship is a new life. New life is not something to take for granted."
On July 13, 2010, I was a normal, active, soccer-playing, puppy-owning, twelve-year-old boy. I was enjoying summertime, but I often found myself slogging through the days, drained of energy, and developing random bruises all over my body. On July 14, 2010, I went in for a sport’s physical at the doctor’s office and discovered that something was wrong with my body. At the hospital, I got some blood tests done, and the test results were surprising. The doctors determined that I had cancer. As soon as I was diagnosed with leukemia, I gave the struggle of my illness to God. From that moment on, I knew that I was going to press on through the disease. The diagnosis of leukemia startled me, but during this time I became aware of a spiritual transformation happening deep within me. In this way, to me, survivorship means an awakening and a calling.
Jeremiah 29:11 reminded me that God had plans for me through my journey with leukemia: the treatments, hospital stays, and rough days. I was reminded daily through whispers from God that I needed to put my trust in Him no matter the circumstances. Through the nauseous, enervated, anxious noontimes, the hallucinating, thought-filled, insomniac bedtimes, and the feverous, chilling, dark mornings, I needed to cast my cares upon God. My leukemia led to an awakening. My life was turned upside down from the effect of my battle, but in a positive way. I realized that my life needed to be devoted to God. By relinquishing everything to God, my leukemia journey was a chance to show how God works through lives in the midst of pain and difficulties. It became an opportunity for me to witness to those around me. I was determined to let all of my family, friends, doctors, nurses, fellow patients, and strangers know that God was getting the credit for the work being done in my life.
Romans 8:28 reminded me that God works all things for the good. Cancer can be a horrible event in someone’s life, but for me, it served as a bump in my path that really wasn’t a stumbling block, but an aid to receive my calling. I often felt God’s presence throughout my journey with leukemia. I knew that He was calling me to do something, but I didn’t quite know what it was. At first, I thought I was called to become a doctor, but as I wrestled with my calling through prayer, thought, and guidance, I realized that God wanted me to become a missionary pastor. I don’t know how to describe it, but ive noticed a huge change in my faith since I was diagnosed with leukemia. Now, I’m thrilled to pursue this new ambition and serve others wherever God calls me.
Survivorship is a new life. New life is not something to take for granted. This is why I want to rise up and live for God, using the example of my leukemia to show people how God works. I want my awakening to empower my calling. I want to continue to be a shining light for those who need hope, help, or Jesus. Since treatment, I’ve continued to stay connected with all of my hospital buddies and fellow cancer friends. We always pray for each other and check up on one another during hospital visits. I fought alongside my buddy Sam who faced the task of beating a defiant leukemia; Sam showed enduring faith until he took his final breath. I encouraged my little friend Michael as he struggled with leukemia, and he eventually succeeded in this battle. Another aspect of survivorship is mentoring and helping those who are currently going through treatment, fighting for survivorship. I’m able to use my experiences to empathize with current fighters. I hope to reach out to others, so that they may also receive this new life.