Feeling Good Again
As someone who has been volunteering at St. Mark for almost the entire 30-plus years that he’s been a member, taking a break from serving last year just didn’t feel right to Tom Krekel.
“I’ve been doing something here since our kids were little,” says Tom. “We are asked to give of our time and talents. At that time, money was tight, so I volunteered to cut the grass.”
Soon after, he began to help with ushering, and then he got involved as a youth leader. “The youth group was preparing to go on a mission trip, and they needed another guy to be an adult leader. They asked me, and I loved it!” Tom has also taken a turn at being a sexton and communion server, and, in recent years, has settled primarily into an usher role.
“I felt good about continuing with the youth, for sure. As far as doing communion, I’m not one to like being up in front. But ushering is the complete opposite – you stand in the back! And I get to say, ‘Welcome! Come on in!’ which is perfect for me,” quips Tom. “I love serving because it makes me feel good to give something back to the church, which gives me so much.”
Then last year, Tom had to step away from volunteering. “I developed a golf-ball sized lump on my chest, and scans revealed that my gut was full of cancer. I was diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic malignant melanoma. I remember my doctor telling me that they could give me something for the pain, but that was about it. Stage 4 was too much for surgery, and they don’t do chemo on that. Thankfully, I found out about immunotherapy, and decided to try that.”
During this time, Tom relied on his faith and the church to help him stay positive. He openly shared his situation and asked people to pray for him. And they did.
“It was so humbling to hear the prayers of the church in worship for ‘Tom’ and to know that was me,” he remembers. “I was determined to win over the cancer and not let it control me.”
“It was the treatment, plus people’s prayers, God’s mercy for me, or maybe just luck!” he laughs, “but it worked for me. I could tell within two months that I was feeling better. I didn’t want to just sit around, and so not long after that I called the office and said, ‘put me back in as an usher!’ I was eager to recapture my life, and being involved at church was a big part of that for me. Giving just makes me feel better.”
Since then,he’s had a full body scan, which shows no sign of any remaining cancer. Tom feels optimistic. “I’m thinking positive that it’s gone for good and I have lots of good years ahead of me. I have a few more months of treatment, and then I’m hoping I’ll be done with that. There are some side effects that I’ll have to deal with the rest of my life, but I’ll take those over the cancer.”
Now he’s back to ushering, and Tom feels good about that. “I know the church can always use help, and I like to give back. And you feel good from a personal standpoint. When I’m walking home after ushering on a beautiful spring morning, I just feel great. Giving and serving keeps me healthy in more ways than just physical health. I feel good physically and spiritually. It feels so good to be feeling good again.”