My Stronghold, A Pastor’s Battle with Cancer and Doubts

Journey with Joe Fornear through his difficult battle with cancer and his miraculous recovery.

My Stronghold coverIn May of 2003, doctors gave Joe just days to live. Stage IV metastatic melanoma cancer had spread to thirteen different sites in his body, including lung, kidney, stomach and pancreas. Though he was at the brink of death, Joe experienced a miraculous healing. This book describes the struggles and process of how Joe gleaned lessons on surrender; human weakness and God’s strength; God’s goodness and compassion in a crisis; and powerful lessons on faith and prayer.

Joe is Founder and Executive Director of Stronghold Ministry, a non-profit ministry that provides spiritual help to cancer patients and those in crisis. An ordained minister, Joe has a Masters of Theology (ThM) degree from Dallas Theological Seminary. He founded and pastored a church in Dallas for 18 years. Joe and his wife, Terri, have two adult children, a son Jesse, and daughter, Amy.

Free eBook of My Stronghold for cancer patients & their caretakers here.

To purchase this book go here.

*You may also be interested in Joe & Terri’s devotional book, In His Grip, Meditations with the Great Physician and Terri’s book, Dealing With Feelings, A Journal of God’s Promises,  or Journey with God Through Suffering, by Joe Fornear.

Reviews

Email us your review or add your name and review in the comments section below.

Amanda Martin, melanoma:
A million thanks for writing My Stronghold. For over two years, I’ve scoured the internet and countless blogs looking for the raw truth and positivity your book gave me. Such a blessing!!!


Steve Wilson (MD):
I’m a cancer doctor (radiation oncologist) and read this book 4-5 years ago and immediately purchased 30 to give to my patients as they first encounter the healthcare system. Since then I have restocked about three times and today I need 30 more so will be doing that. I highly recommend this book for several reasons, and these are the reasons I explain to patients when I hand it to them. One reason is that it helps patients new to the medical jungle fight their way through the tangled vines that lie before them, blocking their vision and choking their vitality. One needs to know how to navigate it – there’s a reason that patients with relatives who are nurses get better medical care, and it’s that they know the pitfalls of what might go wrong with the system. A second reason is the inspirational component. Joe has, and had, the same faith that I have, but when the landscape changes, one needs to adapt and deal differently and his landscape changed *dramatically* and he had to learn how to fight that fight. He was near death – even at its very door. In fact, this book also teaches patients what it feels like to *be* at death’s door, and the next step is slipping under, so a little foreknowledge of what *that* feels like is also useful and will dispel fear of the dying process. However, God chose to bring Joe back and for some that will provide hope too. Few have a miracle as dramatic as Joe did so the purpose is not to instill false hope into people who will be moving on to their heavenly home, but knowing the process sure helps, and knowing that God has all power, and *can* bring you back if He deems it a worthy reason, also reminds you Who is in charge of things. So this gift of this book is hope, as well as vital savvy of how the system works.

Nare, caretaker, Sri Lanka:
I just finished reading your book My Stronghold and I wanted to just say how thankful I am to God that he saved your life!! Thank you so much for sharing your story so fully. I can’t believe you went through so much and now you’re running this wonderful ministry. God is using your life to touch and bless even people so far away like us in Sri Lanka. I had tears in my eyes when I read that the PET scan came back as normal. Praise the LORD!

Amy Aniceto:
I read the book before I started treatment for stage 4 small intestinal cancer and I loved everything about the book. You became an inspiration to me, Joe, and I am so glad we met! I read the book a second time after going through my first cycle of chemo and it really hit home with me then. I had a better understanding and could relate to it more. I am so glad you wrote the book and that I was gifted with a copy of it. It has really changed my life and outlook.

Cristina Zaccarini:
I finished My Stronghold very quickly, as I could not put it down! I found it to be the most impressive cancer survivor story I have ever read! It is honest, detailed, and even humorous. The book provides necessary medical details and helpful ideas for those who are going through similar experiences. Joe Fornear draws from his extensive theological background to foreground key biblical passages, applying them in ways that are very meaningful.

Thom Mandl – Wonderful Testimony of the Love of God:
My Stronghold is an easy to read account of God’s merciful love to a man ambushed by cancer. The story is written in a warm, real, and relational manner, which quickly draws you into the fight of faith — making the book difficult to put down. I really appreciated how the author magnified God and His sustaining grace, versus drawing attention to his own efforts or those around him. While not at all discounting the medical profession, the importance of family and friends, and other means of grace, the spotlight remains clearly on God throughout the account. God will become bigger, your heart will be softened, and your faith will be encouraged by reading this book. You will also want to pass it on, as I have, to someone who is struggling with cancer or otherwise facing suffering and death.

Joan McEvoy:
This is a remarkable story and beautifully written. It is my sincere belief that anyone experiencing great physical suffering or hardship would receive immeasurable spiritual comfort by reading Joe Fornear’s, My Stronghold. For every question there is an answer.

Stewart Maxwell – Well-Crafted Story:
This is a wonderfully-crafted story of God holding on to Joe Fornear throughout his near-fatal experience with cancer. Joe describes not only his walk with God through a spiritual minefield, but also how he navigated the healthcare system. He also provides a few little known facts about melanoma that will surprise most readers. Joe’s talent for weaving spiritual truths into the story using his conversational, transparent language show his years of experience in teaching the Bible applied to everyday situations. Although these are many of the same truths he has taught for years, they are now applied through a razor-sharp focus that can only result from coming so close to one’s own earthly death. Fortunately, this book allows all readers, without coming quite so close to our own demise, to sharpen our own focus on God’s love for each of us. (Disclosure: I am a board member of Stronghold Ministry.)

Ed Neal:
This is an outstanding book about an up and down battle with cancer and how the author, Joe Fornear, fiercely fought with this life threatening disease and the miraculous healing from God he personally experienced. Each chapter is an account of coping with the cancer and how it ravaged his body in a way that caused physical suffering and mental challenges throughout a six year battle to a complete recovery. Truly a profound book which I strongly recommend.

Tom Griffith, Pastor in Boston, Massachusetts:
This is an honest, yet faith-filled book; a great mix of faith and vulnerability. Joe was facing cancer that was advancing through his body at a rapid pace. Along the way he takes us with him into his life, his thoughts and feelings, and the doctors’ offices – his honesty is disarming. This is not a self-help book as much as it is a book about being honest and seeking God amidst the deep trials of cancer. It’s real – at points gritty – and peppered with humor in hard situations. It’s written in short pithy chapters that can be added to devotional reading, or that can be easily completed – even when one’s energy is depleted. What a great book, expressing practical faith to give to people you know who are battling cancer! I am thankful for Joe’s candor and perseverance, and for his writing of this book. It’s by far the best book I’ve seen of its kind.

Duke Snider, cancer survivor:
I don’t read many books as a rule, I wish I did… I typically read textbooks with information that needs to be digested. Jumping straight to it, if nothing else, God has kept you here to do exactly this: write the book, My Stronghold. The key most important aspect that I found was the blunt, no mask, naked truth of the journey to the miserable ends of human capacity engulfed in what seems like a sea of emptiness (… where is God in all of this… where is His voice… Hello… is anyone home?…) coming from the voice of a deep rooted man of God… How comforting to hear your voice and words through your book. I have my own story, as I’m sure all of us do. However, I have been quietly (ashamedly?) pondering why the experience was soooooo brutal, and then there is the emptiness, seemingly void of comfort/support from God. Like you, after effectively willing to “through in the towel,” I got that sooooo needed phone call from God. I made it through and I am here today to smile and move on. But, the period of “emptiness” has haunted me… Your book, hearing your voice — your story closed that chapter for me. Thank you for taking the time to write the book, and for being blunt — naked about your true experience.

Stephen Allen:
Praise The Lord! Joe, after reading your book I found it to be encouraging, interesting, hope giving and funny (smile). I know that this book will continue to be a blessing to everyone who gets the opportunity to read it. God Bless.

Lois Neal:
I decided to be brave and read your book since I was recommending it to several people (on my husband’s recommendation). I was afraid it would be too difficult for me to get through but it is a beautiful and human book that we all can identify with. What you went through is amazing and can only testify to God’s amazing Grace! God is already using this book in so many ways.

Sister Mary of the Sorrowful Heart (Hunt):
I was so interested in your BOOK I could not put it down till I heard — “DINNER’s ready.” I went back as soon as I was finished and really learned many helpful ways of dealing with whatever comes up in my life. PRAISE JESUS. I will be keeping you in all my prayers, GOD BLESS YOU —- YOU WILL BE ABLE TO HELP SO MANY PEOPLE.

Simeon Young, Sr., cancer survivor, Editor, Pentecostal Herald:
I just completed Joe Fornear’s book My Stronghold: A Pastor’s Battle with Cancer and Doubts. I was challenged and inspired by Joe compelling story. His honesty and transparency concerning his feelings, including times of doubt, spoke to me on a personal level. I am grateful that Joe told us the story that he lived

Joice Franklin:
I finished the book tonight and was sorry to see it end. It is well-written, for one thing, and, of course, it is a wonderful story of God’s faithfulness in the darkest of times. I found the theological discussion of healing to be helpful beyond words. It will be a resource book for us to use with missionaries dealing with cancer, and should we ever need the help that Stronghold gives, we have a new resource. We’ll be sharing the book with friends and ultimately it will be in our library. Many, many thanks. To know the author gives impact to the words.

Cindy Rowles, leukemia:
Many friends had sent me stacks of books but yours stood out. I felt God was telling me to read it. Let me tell you Joe, God is so loving and merciful. Your honesty about your battle gave me permission to work through my fears and my feelings. You also helped me to see that there is no reason not to have bold faith in our awesome King. I want you to know how happy I am that you wrote it all down. I think after we go through so much hurting and fighting we think we can keep going, then something blindsides you and knocks you down. Thank you Joe for serving the Lord and helping Him prepare me for this next battle.

Karen Lawrence, Scotland:
Your book, I have to say, is very well set out. My concentration is quite short so the size of the chapters made it so much easier to read. All I kept hearing was patience and how God does things in His time not ours. I was also touched, if that’s the right word, by how you also felt like God was far away and you had lost touch. To hear a pastor say that made me feel better (sorry). I felt so guilty this morning for crying out and asking why he had forsaken me. So it was encouraging to hear your story of how we may feel forsaken – but He does still have a hold on us. I spent time just reading and confirming what I was reading. When I got up I felt so much better, not 100%, but certainly much more myself. I would like to thank you not only for the literature but for your continued prayers which I continue to need. Once I have finished the book I will make my husband and mum read it also.

Robin Keleher
Wow! I am 3/4 through your book, and it’s so amazing and fascinating and WONDERFUL! The suffering you endured during chemo is much greater than mine has been, thus far! Wow! God is so AWESOME! Just finished reading the section of My Stronghold on healing! Whoa! I came to realize that my beliefs/thoughts on healing up until this point have been all wrong. Now, I am claiming complete healing for myself, based on Isaiah 53:5, and the very important idea that when we pray for His will, which is what I have been doing… that includes heaven! There is no CANCER in heaven, and it is NOT His will for cancer to have reign in my body! I am claiming the same thing you did. I just want you to thank you for that book…..and your message.

Leave your review of My Stronghold in a comment below!

4 thoughts on “My Stronghold, A Pastor’s Battle with Cancer and Doubts

  1. Joyce T Franklin

    I had rectal cancer , I had surgery on September 9, 2013 I’m taking 6mo more chemo , with God all things are possible and you proved that , I’m 63 yrs old and had never been sick before , but I know what it’s like to Trust God he has never let me down.you are such an inspiration to me , Thank You

    Reply
    1. admin Post author

      So glad you wrote, Joyce. Yes with Him all things are possible and He is still healing today for sure! And we’re in your corner! Keep us posted.
      You’re in His Grip,
      -Joe Fornear

      Reply
  2. Annie Garcia

    We just found out our Pastor has cancer. Please uphold him in prayer during this difficult time. I am anxious to get him “My Stronghold”

    Reply

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