When Bob Eubanks, pastor of Ridge Baptist Church in Summerville, was diagnosed with stage-four cancer, his doctor figured he had three to four months to live. Four years later, he is preparing to celebrate the church’s 140th anniversary.
“Never doubt what God can do. I’m not supposed to be here,” said Eubanks, who has served at Ridge Baptist for 25 years. “He can do anything.”
Eubanks was diagnosed with stage four chronic lymphatic leukemia in March 2008. He said he had a rare, aggressive form of the cancer that accounts for only 5 percent of people with CLL.
“[The doctor] put his hand on my shoulder and said, ‘This is bad,’?” Eubanks said.
Despite the grim news, he said he maintained a calmness.
“It wasn’t really panic, I just had a feeling I couldn’t explain,” Eubanks said. “God took care of us. It’s just been amazing. I didn’t have any fear.”
Regular chemotherapy treatments couldn’t keep Eubanks from the pulpit. While some days he was exhausted, other days he did well. He said he even built a patio the day after his first treatment.
“I felt God touch me,” he said. “I felt like the blind man. I said, ‘Lord, heal me.’?”
Eubanks has a hard time putting into words what was going through his mind, but he said he felt God working within him.
He said he didn’t want to miss even one Sunday at church.
“I always thought it might be my last sermon,” Eubanks said.
Through it all, he said he only missed one month at church because doctors ordered him to stay away due to the risk of infection.
Just a few days after his first treatment, he said the cancer was already dying.
While he was going though his cancer, he said he buried six other people who died from the disease.
“I counseled a friend, then buried him,” Eubanks said. “You learn to understand that the Lord gives and the Lord takes. It’s a very humbling thing.”
He said after he finished chemotherapy, his doctors said the cancer had been reduced from infecting 70 percent of his blood to less than 1 percent.
Eubanks said the experience has been a life-changing one for the church and for him.
“It created a stronger praying ministry. They saw the power of God’s healing,” he said. “It brought us closer together.”
Personally, he said he has a new outlook on life.
“I do things different now. It just re-prioritizes things you do,” Eubanks said. “It makes you appreciate every day you have. We should do that anyway. I don’t get upset about trivial things. You have a lot more patience, a lot more compassion.”
He said battling cancer taught him far more than he could have ever learned at seminary about life and how God works.
“If you’re going to get an education, go through a storm,” Eubanks said. “It’s just changed my whole focus. Once you go through it, you can’t put a price tag on the value of how God works. Sometimes he’ll put you through the grinder. He has a purpose and a plan.”
He recently started a support group for cancer sufferers at Ridge Baptist.
“Cancer is a very lonely disease, people are so afraid of cancer. It makes people uncomfortable because they don’t know what to say.” Eubanks said. “They are turning to me now and asking, how did you get through this. Some of these people, their faith is not strong so you have to be strong for them.”
Last year he celebrated his 25th year as pastor at Ridge Baptist, the longest serving pastor in the church’s 140-year history. He said he is currently undergoing treatment for bladder cancer which is a common secondary cancer. But he says he is doing well.
“My blood is normal. My hemoglobin is like a teenager. I have more energy than I know what to do with. I’m enjoying life,” Eubanks said. “All this was an act of God. He permitted it. If he permitted it, then he has a plan.”
Eubanks’ church will hold its 140th anniversary celebration on April 29. For more information, visit http://www.ridgebaptistchurch.org.