November 27, 2015

Michael Spencer Update, 3/9/2010

Chaplain Mike received this update from Denise Spencer today.

It is with a heavy heart that I bring my latest update on Michael. We have learned that his cancer is too advanced and too aggressive to expect any sort of remission. Our oncologist estimates that with continued treatment Michael most likely has somewhere between six months and a year to live. This is not really a surprise to us, though it is certainly horrible news. From the very beginning, both of us have suspected that this would prove to be an extremely bad situation. I don’t know why; perhaps God was preparing us for the worst all along by giving us that intuition.

The combination of the cancer and the chemotherapy is keeping Michael in a very weakened state. He is in bed all day, getting up once or twice only to eat a “meal.” His meals consist mostly of Ensure, with occasional mugs of soup, dishes of ice cream and milkshakes. He’s still taking fluids well, currently preferring Sprite and ginger ale. His tastes do change slightly from time to time, and I try to be ready to jump in whatever direction they seem to be moving. He is in no pain at all, for which I am unspeakably grateful.

Michael went through a period of depression, as I’m sure you would expect. He seems to have come through that now, for the most part. He knows he is dying, and he says he is at peace. Though he will still say with unashamed honesty, “I don’t want it to all be over at age 53!” he has the confidence of knowing that he has run the race God set out for him. He believes he has done the work our Lord intended for him to do, and if the last task God has for him in this life is dying, then he will do that to the best of his ability.

Through all of this, in every phase of illness, diagnosis and treatment, Michael’s faith has not wavered. I know most readers love Michael for, among other things, the transparency of his writings. If I may be allowed such honesty for just a moment, I will confess that I have been amazed at how strong Michael has been spiritually and emotionally from the very beginning of this ghastly journey. Day by day I continue to see the Holy Spirit at work in him, molding him, softening him, giving him a more childlike faith than I believe he has ever known. When the moment comes, I am assured Michael will be ready. I am the one who doesn’t want to let go.

Words can never express our gratitude for every thought, every gift, every note, every prayer you have blessed us with. Please pray for continued peace and strength for Michael, for me, and for Noel and Clay. This is the most difficult thing we have ever been through, and only with God’s help can we make it.


  1. Mike L. in Monroe, WA says:

    still praying and thanking God for iMonk….

  2. I am so sorry that Michael, Denise and their children are facing all this… having lost a sibling to cancer 3 years ago, i know it is a very hard journey.

    i will continue to pray for the whole Spencer family… this really is heartbreaking news.

    while I don’t know Michael “IRL,” and have had differences with him in comment sections of the blog, I felt I could speak about those differences due to his honesty, kindness and general good humor about life, even (maybe especially?) the hard parts.

    My deepest thanks to Michael and his gangstas for all they’ve done here, and to the Spencer family, for enabling him to do it.

    We love you guys.


  3. dan baker says:


    You writings have changed the way I think about my faith and the faith of others around me. Thanks for all the encouragement over the years, for your insightful voice, your humor and grace. There is no doubt you are a prophet of God; a good and faithful servant. Be at peace.


  4. I miss Michael so much, my day isn’t the same without his daily posts and his weekly podcast… Michael has touched me beyond words.

  5. I can honestly say that I know what you and your family are going through. My husband, Rick, a pastor for 33 years (he was 53 too), died from a brain tumor on Christmas Eve. It is a very hard road that you all are traveling, but God is and will continue to carry you…even when you think you cannot go on. Keep fighting and enjoying each second that you share as a family…no matter how different it may be from what you once knew. I am glad that I found this site if for no other reason than being able to pray for your dear family.

    Debbie Starr
    Louisville, Ky.

  6. Michael, I’m grieved to read this update. You’ve been a light for the radical grace of the gospel and I’m grateful for your hard work and beautiful writing. My prayers go with you.

  7. My heart is heavy hearing this. Jesus hold them close. Praying for all of you and thanking God for you.

  8. We continue to pray for your family.

  9. I’m praying … we’re all praying for the Holy Spirit’s preserving strength and power in weakness

  10. Doug Messer says:

    I just want to let Michael know how greatly I have appreciated his ministry via this blog. And honestly, that doesn’t really get at how thankful I am for the way in which Christ has spoken through him to me and so many others. And as was noted, his transparency is what has spoken volumes more than anything else…Though I think his willingness to be so transparent is also a clear sign of the wisdom through which he also writes on so many different issues, topics, etc. In particular, I would like to thank him for his “On Running Wounded” article…A friend gave that to me a couple years ago and it was timely and important on a number of different levels. As a minister who does a great deal of work with couples, I have found it to be an excellent resource to center around in discussing and grapling with the issues in our marriages–the depth of our depravities and the severe, transformative grace of God in the midst of that. Not only that, but it was and still is, such an extremely powerful word to mine and my wife’s own hearts as we have had our share of struggles…My sin is always before me. Thankfully, the grace and mercy of Christ is too…And it has changed/conitnues to change myself, my wife and our marriage. That article was/is an important part of a very difficult journey that we have had to take over the last few years…But it was/is (now more than ever), another evidence of the Lord’s beautiful, terrifying, hard and wonderful grace.

    A favorite poem from George Herbert (heard in one of Tim Keller’s sermons), speaks sweet volumes to me…Hopefully to you.

    A DIALOGUE-ANTHEM, by George Herbert

    Alas, poor Death! Where is thy glory?
    Where is thy famous force, thy ancient sting?

    Alas, poor mortal, void of story!
    Go spell and read how I have killed thy King.

    Poor Death! And who was hurt thereby?
    Thy curse being laid on Him makes thee accurst.

    Let losers talk, yet thou shalt die;
    These arms shall crush thee.

    Spare not, do thy worst.
    I shall be one day better than before;
    Thou so much worse, that thou shalt be no more.


    Again…Thank you for your openness and willingness to “go there” on so many levels and with so many areas of life…Praying for you and your family. Grace and Peace. Doug

  11. Susie Lackey says:


    Praying God’s comfort, strength and peace upon you and your family though his journey ahead, and remembering back to our first study together and realizing that “life is difficult,” but knowing that God holds us in His hand. Blessings to you all.