Be Richly Bless for Blessing Us!

Thank you for stopping by Dwain's page! Please take a moment to read his story below and consider donating to their travel expenses and medical bills for this terrible disease that we wish would disappear.

My name is Caroline Josef and my husband and I were neighbors with this beautiful family while we lived in Toccoa for 6 years. We've since moved, but felt an intense calling to help in whatever way we could. Opening and managing this page for them was a tangible way we could help the Dickinsons in their time of need. 

The Dickinson family- Dwain and Shawna and their lovely children- have full access to this account. Every penny that is given will go directly to them (minus the fees for using this page that gofundme automatically takes out).

As you'll see at the end of his story there is an IMMEDIATE need for travel expenses to Nashville. Here is the Dickinson's story (written by Dwain and Shawna): 

          Family...Friends. I want to begin to share this story with a promise I received. As I was diagnosed January 24, 2013, reassurance from the Father above flooded my heart of hearts that this was going to be an opportunity to give Him glory and to testify to His blessing on our lives. When our dear friend, Caroline Josef asked if we would be willing to tell our story and write a paragraph or two for inclusion on a website entitled , I chuckled a bit as most anyone knows it usually takes me at least four document pages just to write a greeting. But I will do my best not to bore you and get on with the pertinent details of our circumstances. Another dear friend, Tracy Long, a former employee for American Cancer Society, advised me to make you laugh and make you cry. Usually opening my mouth most places takes care of the crying part. So hopefully the rest is an improvement.

          Let me tell you, dear ones, that 2013 was no easy year for any of us. I can only speak for my extended family but it seemed like the entire world was falling apart around us. After ending 2012 with a series of mysterious ailments, our family received the most devastating news possible on January 24, 2013 when I received a call from my gastroenterologist. “I don’t usually like to give out this kind of information over the telephone,” she said. I told her then that I knew the news could not be good and to go ahead and just tell me. I was introduced to a whole new vocabulary by the end of that conversation with terms such as Stage IV metastatic adenocarcinoma. I was booked into my oncologist the same day and was hospitalized that night for pain management. I remember being unable to get any relief whatsoever except on all fours. I remember multiple shots of morphine having no effect. I remember my pastor, Tony Byrd, looking at a nurse and saying “You need to get that man some medicine. He’s hurting.”

          Coming home that Sunday was no easier. My home was full of well-wishers ministering and I was doped to the gills on Dilaudid. That Monday I made the mistake of doing a little research on the internet. “New” Survivors should make a note that the internet can be a very sharp double-edged sword. It can be a valuable source of support and caring, but it can also be the absolute worst place to be when you’ve just been diagnosed because there is more there than you can digest or would want to.

          That Monday I also began my first series of chemotherapy. I was reassured by my oncologist that this regimen was well tolerated, that I wouldn’t lose my hair, and that in all likelihood I could continue working. Sadly, this was true for about 90% of patients and I was in the minority. I was bedridden. On treatment days I suffered from cramping of my abdomen so badly that I writhed in the floor crying out in pain. I collapsed in tears in front of my babies on more than one occasion. I stopped eating. I dropped from 185 lbs to 135 lbs by May. I was missing more work days than I was completing.

          That treatment regimen stopped working and it was on to round 2. It lasted about 3 months and it was time to change again. This time to Vectibix. This was like night and day. I went from six hours of chemo to one. My side effects disappeared and I began eating all of my favorite foods again. The only side effect was this handsome rash. It is now almost July, 2014, and my regimen is changing again. In one week, following CT scans, I will begin an oral inhibitor regimen. They are also searching the entire United States for a potential trial which would create new opportunities and, of course, financial and travel concerns. New medicines...and likely new side effects. Prayers are craved.

          But cancer causes way more harm than just the physical variety. It was as if a large stone had been thrown into our little pond and the ripples seemed endless. Bailey, now a high school graduate preparing for his freshman year at the University of Georgia, had to grow up way more rapidly than he should. He’s had to play the man many of times. Rylee has had to deal with being a middle school girl with a sick father. Shawna has had to miss work regularly to ensure that I made medical appointments. Family sacrificed. Friends sacrificed. Finances were stretched. And psychologically we just hurt. There is a part of living with cancer that cannot be shared with anyone who hasn’t gone through it. There is a loneliness to the diagnosis and to the treatment. Finally, in October, I made the decision that at year’s end, I would leave work to focus full time on getting well
and spending time with family. Leaving my profession hurt me as well. A great deal of a man’s self-worth is tied to his ability to provide for his family and now I wasn’t even capable of doing that. The year ended with us losing Shawna’s sister, a cancer survivor herself. In the waning hours of 2013. I preached my first funeral.

          But dear friends, if we ended the story with those somber notes, we would grieve, we would do battle as those who have no hope. Scripture is adamant this is not the case. Oh dear ones, as we faced what seemed like certain doom, I cried out to God and He comforted. "But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me." - 2 Corinthians 12:9. Weeks into my diagnosis, I was reintroduced to a song by my favorite Christian artist, Steven Curtis Chapman, entitled "God is God". Based on the sacrifices made by Jim Elliott, Pete Fleming, Ed McCully, Nate Saint, and Roger Youderian to bring the Gospel to the murderous Auca Indians in 1955, this story is captured in Elizabeth Elliott's book, Through Gates of Splendor. You see after these Aucas slaughtered the missionary team in Ecuador, their wives and children followed them to the mission field and continued the work. They couldn't understand the pain they had to endure for the sake of the call. But they endured it still the same...for HIS GRACE is sufficient. 

          A few months later Toccoa joined together to bless our family financially through a 5K SuperRun. And while I was unable to attend, my family said it was incredible. It paid medical bills and provided so much we needed. Toccoa River Baptist Thrift Store followed suit. My home church Liberty Hill Baptist had two fund raisers for us.

          During this time God was richly blessing me personally with opportunities to teach and preach about His incredible work in our lives. In the dark nights of our souls, we had His Hope as an ANCHOR sure and steadfast. We began a High School Boys Bible Study in our home in order to expand our borders of influence. Our support teams at First Baptist and at GlobalTech where I was employed can not be thanked enough for all they did to minister.

          Christmas finally rolled around and trepidation hit like a ton of bricks. Even though I had seen Him provide so often I still had worries. And He seemed to grin and say, "Lean back, son, and watch me work." We had one of our most blessed holiday seasons ever.

          And then we lost Jana. She had beaten this thing. And we still lost her. And in the midst of the tears, we began to cry out again, "WHY, LORD?" And that very night he brought me back to that same song.

And the pain falls like a curtain
On the things I once called certain
And I have to say the words I fear the most
I just don't know 
And the questions without answers 
Come and paralyze the dancer 
So I stand here on the stage afraid to move 
Afraid to fall, oh, but fall I must 
On this truth that my life has been formed from the dust 

God is God and I am not
I can only see a part of the picture He's painting
God is God and I am man
So I'll never understand it all
For only God is God

And the sky begins to thunder
And I'm filled with awe and wonder
'Til the only burning question that remains
Is who am I
Can I form a single mountain
Take the stars in hand and count them
Can I even take a breath without God giving it to me
He is first and last before all that has been
Beyond all that will pass

Oh, how great are the riches of His wisdom and knowledge
How unsearchable for to Him and through Him and from Him are all things

So let us worship before the throne
Of the One who is worthy of worship alone

          He was there again reminding me to trust Him. That He was seeing the entire portrait beginning to end. That He would use even this tragedy as He had used the others, to bring about an opportunity to share the Gospel. I must share this or I will surely burst. We arrived at Jana's apartment once we arrived in Iowa and the girls were cleaning up. I walked over to Shawna on the couch and she hands me a book. "I think this is for you," she said. The book was THROUGH THE GATES OF SPLENDOR. Hallelujah and AMEN.

          So now we stand mid-way through our second year of the fight against this terrible disease. We continue to pray in faith that our God CAN and WILL heal me. But until He does, the message He has given us is so crystal clear and it must be a clarion call. His Grace is Sufficient. His Power is Made Perfect in Weakness. Humble Yourselves that He May Exalt You. We want this to echo in every aspect of our lives. In April of this year, we accepted the call of God on our lives to Gospel ministry. God’s message in that call was also stunningly clear. He placed the visual of a ticking stopwatch into my mind. And the words “Each one only has a certain amount of time. Be ready to give an account for the hope you have in Christ Jesus.” And so the Dickinsons surrendered to the accounting process. Ironic, huh? Twenty-five years as an accountant and I’m still giving account.

          We thrive. The situation never ceases for a single moment to be difficult. In fact, being bluntly honest, many who started this journey with us have left the path. They did not expect a lengthy walk – I would either be healed or taken home. Instead, the disease lingers and they choose not to observe the often uncomfortable coping process. Many more have come along side, still providing meals, providing prayers, opening their homes, proclaiming us family. Our son, Bailey, as we noted, excelled in his final year of high school. Late nights past 2:00 AM, I would
awaken to find the boy buried in his books. But it paid off. He goes to the University blessed with over $9000 in first semester scholarships. He is spending his summer working his first job as an employee of the University’s Cooperative Extension Program 4H Camping Program at Fortson 4H Center, where he serves as Red Crew Leader. Our daughter, Rylee, finished Middle School as a straight A student, and continues to be passionate about the performing arts, participating in drama camps, musicals, plays, and various dancing disciplines. And in the midst of this monstrous maelstrom, this terrible typhoon, this catastrophic storm of disease and pain, stands a single heroic soul. She’s no superhero. In fact, when you see her you would only note her gentleness, her heart of love, at times her frailty. And yet, she is our glue. Shawna, despite how much she hurts for each member of our family, gets up daily and puts on the robes of the caregiver, protecting us, meeting our needs, and encouraging us for the next step in the fight. I like to think she has her Father’s Eyes. And by that I mean her Heavenly Father. She is like the Good Shepherd who is willing to leave the ninety and nine to see the single one is lost and hurting, and to bring them home. She not only shares her Father’s ability to see, but shares His heart to love. Blessings abound.

          I want to close with a couple of my favorite scriptures and I pray they are a blessing to you as they are to me. These are my anchors as I face what are often uncertain days ahead.

"For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day."  -2 Timothy 1:12

"Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." -John 14:27

"Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling,
And to present you faultless
Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy,
To God our Savior,
Who alone is wise,
Be glory and majesty,
Dominion and power,
Both now and forever. Amen."

May God grant you all His peace and may we finally defeat this enemy we all share.

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Dwain Dickinson 
Toccoa, GA
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