How being healed from prostate cancer has provided a new perspective on what really matters

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pictured:Mark Manson

Having gone from a diagnosis of aggressive prostate cancer to complete healing in just under 12 months, Mark Manson now has a passion to demonstrate the heart of the Father to men of all generations.

With his illness creating a natural move toward retirement, Mark is pursuing his passion to connect men and ultimately, help them to know Jesus. We chatted with him about his recent journey and what lies ahead for the future.

Interview:Aimee Cowan Read:10mins

pictured:Mark Manson

(AC)
Mark, you’ve not only faced the ups and downs of COVID in the past 18 months but also some pretty big health challenges. Can you take us through what happened?

(MM)
Towards the end of 2020, I’d just finished with my grade 12s, and I felt in my own body that some things needed a check-up on. I went to the doctor and had a series of checks and he said, “it’s good that you’ve come; I haven’t seen you in a while, so we’ll run a number of checks”. About 24 hours after the tests, I got a phone call from the doctor saying he needed to see me as soon as he could. One thing led to another, so that by the end of January, it was confirmed that I had a growth in my prostate. I needed to go in and have day surgery to have a biopsy, which confirmed that it was aggressive cancer. After several different options that I was given, we decided the best way forward was to have the prostate removed, so on 20 April this year I went in for surgery. We then had some tests come back after that, which said there was a margin and we needed to wait three months to have some more tests to see whether it was successful and if the cancer had been {fully} removed from my body. There had been some good signs beforehand – I had a PET scan, which said there was no other trace of cancer through my body.

The outcome is, I've been healed!

(AC)
You’ve been a Christian now for many years, how did your faith help you on the journey and how did you know God was with you?

(MM)
Through the operation, Kerry was across the road from Greenslopes Hospital where I was operated on. In her praying she felt as though she saw angels around me. I woke from my operation in the recovery section and when I opened my eyes, the first thing that was cognisant for me was me seeing angels around the room. We worked out it was pretty much at the same time, so that was confirmation for both of us that God was with us.

Before the operation, we were having our bible study and praying and the verse that came out was the one about why do you ask for things that I’ve already given you. I felt in my spirit that the Lord said, “You don’t need to pray anymore for healing because I’ve healed you”. That was about three or four weeks before I had the blood tests and confirmation. I suppose having faith to say that when there was no {physical} evidence, is what the Christian walk is about. Because I know God personally and I know how He speaks to me in my spirit, I was able to trust in that. I think God was teaching me through that time.

(AC)
Of course, there were several risks associated with having the surgery, how did you navigate those?

(MM)
One of the downsides of having your prostate removed, is that you have to deal with the problem initially, and sometimes permanently, of incontinence. I had a catheter for the first ten days after the operation, and the doctors had reiterated to me that I’d have to deal with it going forward. Long story short, I had the catheter removed and wore the pads for 24 hours and after that, I said to Kerry that I didn’t think I needed them anymore. I was healed of that problem as well – I basically had continence 24 hours after the catheter was removed. I told my doctor when I went back and he said, “You’re the one in a million”, which was confirmation from God as well.

(AC)
What was the biggest thing you learnt through the whole process? 

(MM)
Looking back, it was definitely “Trust me, push in, draw near to me”. There were so many things that you are always taught about and now I had an opportunity to put those to the test. I don’t believe God was testing me, I think it’s a false belief that God had given me the cancer. But it soon became evident that God was with me through that journey. It was a certainly a different journey I'd never experienced before as I never really had any ill health. When you hear that ‘cancer’ word, you initially think the worst. It was definitely a season of waiting and God asking me what I was going to do during the waiting – lean into Him or let the enemy have his way.

(AC)
Going forward, what are your plans?

(MM)
I’ve always had something there as being a father and with men. I’ve always had this drawing towards wanting to connect men of different generations together. There’s a photo that I’ve got, which is really special to me, that was taken about three months before my father passed. It’s of my dad, myself, Josh and Mike and Louis. Mike was very determined that we should go down to Sydney, so we flew down when Louis was a baby for the weekend so that dad could see his great grandson.

I’ve always felt led to have a passion for connecting the generations. I feel like Satan is always trying to do something to destroy that through the ideas that we have of our parents knowing nothing. I want my family line to be generational and to have the blessings from one generation to another.
In my role as a teacher with pastoral care, there was a recurring theme with breakdown of families. I want to do something that connects men and fathers to their sons. Downstairs in my home, my next project is to knock out a wall and put in a pool table so men can just hang out, watch the footy, chat and pray for each other. I want people to be able to come and feel listened too and go away feeling as though they’ve connected with other men and with Jesus.

(Ac)
How have the events of the past 12 months changed your outlook on life?

(MM)
Being nearly 65, I was thinking about the right time for retirement. Kerry said something to me the other week that stopped me in my tracks, which was that God has been good to me and that He’s actually taken the decision {to retire} out of my hands. Through this sickness, I’ve stopped and thought about what was important. I’ve always enjoyed my work; it’s never been a burden getting up and going to work, so it would’ve always been hard to know the right time to finish. But I’ve been able to come to the conclusion that my time as a teacher has come to an end. Through the sickness and wondering if it was the end of my earthly life, I wasn’t thinking about how much money I had in retirement or what renovations I could be doing to the house – my thoughts immediately went to my grandchildren. I want to be there for them when they’re growing up, I want to see them grow up, I want to see them commit their lives to the Lord for themselves, I want to be there at their graduations and twenty-firsts.

There was a time where Kerry and I were blessed to be support to the youth leaders. We had gone away to Bornhoffen and the Lord showed me that there’s so much that the older generation have to give to the younger generation and there were so many boys that never had a grandfather or father. So, I was led to ask Athol Alcorn and Ray Peck to come up for the morning. They were driven up and shared their testimony with those boys. It was a significant time. You could’ve heard a pin drop as they shared their stories and answered questions. The young boys then prayed for the older men of our church, and it was a memory that I’ll always have. I didn’t realise at the time, but I was unaware of Athol not having a father from a young age. But God uses the desires of your heart to bless other people. When you think of the work Athol has done for thousands of young boys and men, even when he didn’t have much of a father himself, it’s incredible. He had God the Father, and that’s what made the difference.

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