Faith Along the Journey: Words of Wisdom From a Local Man Battling Cancer
WISDOM AS HE BATTLES
Michael Walker, 60, of Latrobe has built a life that many would envy. He is a successful finance executive, a husband, father and grandfather, and devoted church volunteer. He is well known in the Diocese of Greensburg for leading the Men’s Ministry Team and its first men’s conference in March with nearly 600 people in attendance.
But last year he learned that following Christ does not make any of us exempt from struggle.
“More than one physician has described to me, ‘Oh, you have the bad one’,” Walker says.
He remembers the day he got the news about a brain tumor called glioblastoma.
“A tumor in the brain for which there’s no cure will statistically take one’s life typically within 18 months,” Walker says.
He agreed to a sit-down interview with The Catholic Accent to talk about his faith journey.
Walker, left, and his wife, Janice, far right, carry a cross on the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem during a 2018 pilgrimage.
Q: How do you keep the faith in such a difficult time?
A: To the priest who heard my confession, I made this remark: I don’t understand how anyone could be a martyr, how could they do this? And his answer was, “Well, I don’t think that it just happens all of a sudden. I think that each day they grow a little closer to God, and the next a little bit more, to the point where, on the day they wake up that their life will be taken, the most natural thing for them to do is to surrender their life.”
That’s what happens. You grow a little closer to God each day, and the most natural thing that I could do is trust. My faith rests in God, my trust is with him. I believe him.
Q: Are there moments of doubt?
A: There are moments of doubt; there are clearly moments where I’ll break down and cry. Because you know, it’s not an easy thing to be told you’ll die soon. But he has provided things that I could never have imagined. That’s why I know it’s him. I couldn’t have done it otherwise.
Q: Looking back on your life and your success, what advice would you have for others?
A: So the lesson that God has allowed me to learn is “savor the moment.” I would share that with my children or with you. We’re all trying to be at another moment; we’re all trying to be at that place we would have called “success.” No, no: Success is in this little moment. The moment your child gives you a big hug, that is success. So, in the difficult times, there are so many blessings, it actually allows me to tell our Lord, “I love you, I trust you, I believe you.” Without it, I don’t have that gift.
Q: How is your family handling this?
A: I am to do what every husband and father is meant to do; provide, protect and most especially, as I tell them, nurture their spirituality. So I said to them, I’d like us to go to church together. It’s important to me. It sends a message to me and to them and witness to anyone else. They see another family come together to worship; that’s actually what we are supposed to do.
Michael and Janice Walker stand with their family. At left are son and daughter-in-law Greg and Valerie with sons Eric, left, Bradley, center, and Adam; at right are sons Jonathan (rear) and Tyler, with wife Kelsey.