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Overcome: A Story of Intervention,
Rescue, and Redemption;
Our Cancer Survivorship Journey


Debbie and I like to think of Overcome as a small book with a big story: a story about the One who intervenes, rescues and redeems. It's our hope reading this will help you draw closer to God and in the process, overcome!   - from the Introduction


 
                                                                                                                                                 
                                                                                       

  




                                                                                       

                                                                                       



                                                                                       







                                                                                     


                                                                                       

                                                                                       

                                                                                       



                                                                                 
                                                                                  

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​                                                                                 CHAPTER 1
                                                                                RAIN ON ME


You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry.
(Psalm 10:17)
 
 
I stood outside in the pouring rain. As the water washed over me, I envisioned it cleansing me of the unwelcome enemy that had invaded my body. There I was, alone in my backyard, soaking wet and weeping. I never remembered crying before receiving the phone call that changed my life forever.

On January 3, 1980, I graduated from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Academy. Within days, I began my field training with the Manhattan Beach Police Department. One early morning, my training officer and I went to the Kettle, the only 24-hour restaurant in town, for our meal break. It’s there that a beautiful young waitress named Debbie Tepe caught my eye. One of the first few times I came in, she greeted me and said, “Your lights are on.”

I explained to Debbie that I left the parking lights on for safety purposes. I wondered if she really wanted to know why, or if she was flirting with me. When writing this chapter, I asked her about the comment. She told me she was indeed flirting with me. I’m so happy she did! As a new police officer in training, I didn’t have time for a girlfriend. However, I enjoyed seeing Debbie at the Kettle whenever I stopped in to eat a meal and write my reports.

One morning, I had to tell Debbie I had been assigned to work the day shift, but I would visit her at her second job at the Animal House pet shop. Debbie helped me pick out a new collar and leash for my mixed breed dog named Buddy. I asked her out for a dinner date before leaving the shop.

Following our first date on May 1, 1980, Debbie and I spent time together every day. I asked Debbie if she would marry me four days later. She was 19 years old and I was 23.
My new fiancée and I, of course, had no idea what we were doing getting engaged so soon after our first meeting. Debbie was concerned what her parents might think. We waited a whole two weeks before we told them. They were stunned! The news their oldest daughter was engaged took their breath away. However, within a few moments of our surprising announcement, they expressed their approval with tears of joy in their eyes.

Debbie and I were married the next year on Valentine’s Day at the Neighborhood Church in Palos Verdes Estates.

Debbie attended Catholic school through grade six. I grew up in what you might call an irreligious family. Neither of us attended church after we were married, and prayer and Bible reading wasn’t a part of our lives. At the time, there was no one in our lives encouraging us to seek God or attend church services.

We lived in a two bedroom, one bathroom duplex in Manhattan Beach during our first year of marriage. The little place we rented was an affordable $475.00 a month and just a short drive to our jobs. Debbie and I purchased our first home in January 1982. We found a  three-bedroom, one bathroom house with a large yard located in  the City of Carson.

On February 26, 1985, Debbie gave birth to our first child, Russell. We had been married four years when “Rusty-Man,” as we called him, was born. What a tremendous joy it was for Debbie and me to start our little family. Two years later, we sold the Carson place and movedinto a home we purchased in Torrance. This larger home was located near a park in what we believed was a safer neighborhood. They also had a better school district.

By this time, I had served for over seven years as a police officer with the City of Manhattan Beach. I blamed the fatigue I had been experiencing for several weeks on my long and unpredictable work days. Thirteen days after our move, I noticed a lump at the base of the right side of my neck while I was shaving. Concerned, I made an appointment with my internist.

On June 2nd, my primary care doctor told Debbie and me that the swollen gland could be thyroiditis or inflammation of the thyroid gland. He gave orders for me to have labs, a chest x-ray, and an EKG (Electrocardiogram). Five days later, Debbie and I were back in the physician’s office. He told us that I might have Hodgkin’s disease, a form of cancer that affects the immune system.

Before my wife and I could even begin to process this news, the doctor showed us my chest x-ray. He explained how the film showed a mass in my chest, which extended down from the lump in my neck. I couldn’t believe my own eyes. Growing up, I’d never so much as broken a bone. He scheduled me to see a local oncologist the very next day.

Debbie and I met with the specialist in his office at Little Company of Mary Hospital. This was the same hospital where Debbie gave birth to Russell. The specialist reviewed the chest x-ray and told us it looked like lymphoma, a form of cancer. There goes that word again. Debbie and I grew increasingly bewildered over the growing likelihood that I, in fact, had cancer. We agreed to have the lump on my neck biopsied.

It’s been thirty years since I received that call. However, I remember sitting on the edge of my bed, hearing: “The biopsy shows the lymph node is malignant. It appears you have Hodgkin’s disease.” Debbie, who was beside me at the time, heard my exchange with the doctor. To this day, I don’t know why that physician would call with the diagnosis instead of telling us in person. Stunned by the terrible news, we held each other and cried.
 
From the book, “Overcome: A Story of Intervention, Rescue, and Redemption; Our Cancer Survivorship Journey." By, Glen D. Kirkpatrick, Jr., and Debbie K. Kirkpatrick


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Thank you,
Glen and Debbie