Summary: My experience with cancer taught me some important lessons about life that I could only learn in the valley of suffering.

Lessons Learned in the Valley

Chuck Sligh

May 2004


TEXT: Psalm 23:4 – “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou [art] with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”


Several years ago (1979), I went to the hospital for surgery. After the surgery, my doctor came to my wife in the waiting room and told her that I had six weeks to live. It was CANCER!

For the next few months I was in a deep, deep valley of trials which I thought would never end. After traveling through that valley, as I journeyed to higher peaks, I was able to look back and learn some lessons from the valley. That’s why my message is titled, “Lessons Learned in the Valley.” I want to share with you today my testimony of trials and their benefit in my life.

Yes, there ARE benefits in trials. Lester Roloff used to say, “Don’t fret in your valleys. Farm them.” So I want to share with you a little of the crop I’ve harvested of lessons learned in the valley.


Before the cancer episode, God was already leading us through a period of trials over a period of eighteen months.

Various trials:

--Susan’s father died.

--Six weeks later – Chris born by Caesarian section.

--Six weeks later – Susan’s grandfather died.

--Church difficulties – Most of it was grossly exaggerated slander. But the seed of truth cut to the heart. But the biggest heartache was the fact that some of our dearest friends deserted us in our time of greatest need.

--In all of this, Susan and I were experiencing strains in our relationship.

--Then came the cancer.

--After my recovery from cancer, when we returned to the church, and seeing that our ministry was through there, I resigned my position at the church.

--Unemployed for six weeks because no church opened up for us, causing us to spend all of what little savings we had and sending us into financial hardship.

--When it became apparent that no ministry might become available right away, I took a job working at a grain elevator for six more weeks.

--The financial hardships became worse because we had no more savings and the job I had did not pay enough to meet our expenses.


I went into the hospital and the doctor discovered that I had cancer. He told Susan that I had six weeks to live and that she should get things in order for my imminent death. However, the specific diagnosis was not absolutely certain. There were three possibilities: Teratoma, Carcinoma or Seminoma, Seminoma being the least likely, but least dangerous. The problem was that they could not start any treatment until they determined positively the type of cancer. It took six weeks to determine definitely the correct type of cancer. By that time I WAS SUPPOSED TO BE DEAD.

During the waiting time, we became exposed to alternative treatments and decided to go on a non-traditional cancer treatment called the Gerson Therapy. Susan’s aunt offered to let us stay with them in Kentucky and do the therapy and to pay for all the expenses! At the time I started on the Gerson Therapy, I was in very poor condition. I was very sickly. I was very weak. When I returned to work, I was running two miles a day and I felt wonderful!

The Gerson Therapy—at times, worse than the disease!---

--Thirteen freshly made vegetable juices a day.

--A food supplement program.

--A special diet –

--No meat, eggs, pork, poultry, milk products, oil, salt, pepper, spices, sugar, flour, or bread.

--Nothing canned, packaged, salted, treated, processed or frozen.

--It included only selected organic fruits and vegetables.

--Coffee enemas three to ten times daily.

--Raw liver juice! (Yes, you heard right, and yes, it was as gross as it sounds. Fortunately, in later years, research showed that desiccated liver pills did just as good as the liver juice and they discontinued the juice!)

The therapy caused me to have what they called “reactions.” These were when the therapy caused the body to rid itself rapidly of toxins and poisons. They caused me to become extremely sick. They also caused acute depression, making me suicidal. I finally survived it and followed up for several years on the “maintenance diet.”


1. I learned that life is short.


Proverbs 27:1 – “Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.” – I truly did not know if I had hope of living from one day to the next.

James 4:14 – “Whereas ye know not what [shall be] on the morrow. For what [is] your life? It is even a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.”

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