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My Christian life: Faith provides firm foundation after cancer diagnosis

Faith in God’s love and grace gives a man strength after a surprise diagnosis.

Randy Wiessinger has witnessed a lot of difficult situations throughout his life. For 30 years, Randy served as a devoted member of law enforcement, as did his wife, Lorie.

Randy’s career was full of highs and lows, as he experienced several critical incidents and served as a volunteer member of the honor guard. As a member of the statewide law enforcement death response team, he helped dozens of families plan funerals for officers who had died in the line of duty or off duty.

Through it all, Randy kept Christ as his focal point.

“Faith was the foundation of what carried me through in all things law enforcement,” Randy says. “Lorie and I both attribute our ability to walk through those 30 years to relying on our faith in good times and bad.”

But then at the age of 48, Randy was diagnosed with cancer.

Randy Wiessinger with wife and daughter
Both Randy and Lorie served in law enforcement. Their daughter Kristi also went into law enforcement and for a short time they all worked together for the same agency.

A firm foundation

Randy grew up in a Christian home that set a firm foundation for his life. He was baptized as a baby, confirmed as a teenager, and attended church with his family each Sunday.

In 1990, Randy met his future wife, Lorie, and they were married the following year. The newlyweds decided to attend Peace, Sun Prairie, Wis. They became active in the church, serving on committees and helping in any way they could.

Randy and Lorie had three children and stayed dedicated to the church and Christian education. Randy shares, “We tried to set the foundation in our own family that we had growing up and have faith as the focal point of our lives.”

This unwavering faith in Christ continued to grow throughout the years to come.

A personal challenge

On Thursday, April 30, 2012, at 8:30 a.m., Randy received his cancer diagnosis. “It’s a moment you never forget,” he says.

After Randy experienced pelvic pain for nearly a year, his doctors decided to conduct a biopsy. They insisted that Randy was too young to have prostate cancer, but the test results showed otherwise.

After receiving the diagnosis, the couple went outside to come up with a game plan to tell their kids. Their son was 13 at the time, and both of their daughters were in high school. They arranged a meeting with Pastor Gregory Lyon, who was then serving at Peace.

Lyon still remembers that first meeting. “It was the first time as a pastor that I went through something so difficult with a faithful member of the congregation, someone who humanly did not deserve to have this happen to him,” he shares. “But seeing the amount of faith he had along the journey was truly humbling for me as a pastor.”

Randy and Lorie told their kids the news that evening, emphasizing that God had a plan. “God has a plan for each of our lives and it’s always good,” Randy states, “even if it doesn’t look good or seem good in the moment.”

Faithful service

Randy says that he and his wife will never forget his initial cancer diagnosis and every facet about that day, but afterward everything became a blur. “After the diagnosis, it was about living my life to the fullest,” Randy explains, “but not in a worldly sense. I made a commitment to myself that I would stay very involved in lay ministry.”

Prostate cancer doesn’t receive stages; however, Randy says if they did provide stages, it would have been stage 4 because the cancer had spread so widely and engulfed his bladder. His treatment plan included surgery to remove the entire prostate gland.

The surgery was long, clocking in at seven hours total, but it was a success. Afterward, Randy concluded his treatment plan with extensive radiation to ensure the cancer wouldn’t continue to spread.

Randy Wiessinger and family
(Left) Randy walking his daughter Camille down the aisle. At one point, Randy wasn’t sure if he would be alive for this milestone in his life. (Right) Randy holding his granddaughter Avery. Left to right are Randy’s daughter Camille; wife, Lorie; son, Kyle; and Camille’s husband, Lukas.

 

Through this experience, Randy never spent time asking the question why. He never backed down from his belief in Jesus and his grace. He only continued to serve.

“There were thoughts that I should step back from serving and focus on treatments,” he says. “But ultimately, God gave me these gifts and I felt I should serve as much as I could.”

“Watching him in the recovery phase, he was a guy who was hard to keep down,” says Lyon. “He always wants to serve. He always wants to do more.”

New opportunities

When the doctors originally evaluated Randy’s treatment and the cancer’s spread, they told him that living five more years would be a successful outcome. Randy didn’t share this with anyone else, but he always kept it in the back of his mind. “I set goals and prayed that if it was God’s will, I would be there to watch my second oldest daughter and my son graduate from high school,” he says. “And . . . those goals kept resetting.”

Randy’s surgery and subsequent treatment were incredibly successful. Not only did he see all three of his children graduate high school, but he also witnessed them graduating from college. In addition to these pivotal moments, Randy and his wife became grandparents in 2021. “Each of these milestones is particularly special as I reflect on them,” Randy says.

This year Randy is celebrating the tenth anniversary of his surgery—ten years of milestones he didn’t know if he’d be able to reach. “Ten years ago, I wasn’t thinking about the year 2022. Instead, I was relying on the fact that whatever God’s plan is, it is good.”

Randy has experienced many opportunities to use his cancer journey to share his faith. One of those moments was with an unbelieving friend whose diagnosis was similar to his own. They would talk about Jesus, and Randy would share how trusting in God’s plan got him through his time in law enforcement and through his time battling cancer. Randy was at his friend’s side when he passed away.

“I’ve seen how God puts me someplace where a friend, colleague, or acquaintance has a similar cancer experience as me,” he says. “Some of these situations have been challenging because the person didn’t have any faith in God. It’s striking how God puts me in these positions to share my faith.”

A Savior’s unwavering love

Living in a fallen world, difficult situations will inevitably arise. Randy has seen this time and again. But Randy’s faith continues to be his strength. He doesn’t spend time worrying about this life because he knows what awaits him in the next one.

Since his first surgery, Randy has had six additional surgeries to help mitigate the effects of radiation. He and his family have mourned the loss of Lorie’s twin sister to cancer. Randy lives with the knowledge that his own cancer is expected to return one day. But he also lives with the knowledge that his Savior’s love and promise of salvation are unwavering.

He says, “This experience has reinforced what this whole thing is about . . . having faith. It’s about trusting in God’s plan for our life and for our salvation.”

Author: Gabriella Blauert
Volume 109, Number 08
Issue: August 2022

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Gabriella Blauert

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