John Tesh vividly remembers the day he contemplated ending his own life.
It was 2015, and the Emmy Award-winning journalist and popular radio host had been diagnosed with a rare form of prostate cancer and given just 18 months to live.
“It was an incredibly painful experience,” Tesh, 63, recalled in an interview with The Christian Post. “I had complications from my first surgery where the opioids they gave me paralyzed my bowels and so my body was shutting down. One day, I looked at my wife with tears in my eyes and said, ‘You have to kill me.’”
“They couldn’t find a way to get rid of chemo-induced nausea, so I rigged up a system where I took an oxygen generator, plugged it in, and it had a regulator and weight belt, and I’d put it in my mouth and sit at the bottom of the pool for two hours,” he continued. “It was the only thing that would stop me from being nauseous. I remember thinking, ‘if I’d pull the regulator out of my mouth, it would look like an accident, and all of this would be over.’”
At the time, Tesh admitted, “I couldn’t see God’s faithfulness.”
“I was crying out to God, asking, ‘Why have you done this to me?’ I was starting to feel like Job. The devil comes to steal and destroy, and I began to act like a cancer patient. I wasn’t in a place where I was connected to the Word of God; I couldn’t see that I could have abundant life.”
Tesh’s cancer continued to return, ending up in his lymph nodes. With nowhere to turn, Tesh and his wife began to delve into the Scriptures.
“We read Mark 11:23 which says in part, ‘Whatever you ask when you pray, believe that you’ll receive it and you will have it,’” he said. “We started studying Scriptures about the promise of healing that came from Jesus. I believe that during this time, we entered a period of divine healing.”
Around this time, doctors told Tesh they needed to radiate his pelvis with 62 different radiation treatments in a three-month period that could cause him to lose all bladder and sexual function.
“At that moment, my wife and I looked at each other, and faith was born,” he said. “We realized we were done with treatment.”
Today, the Grammy-nominated composer and concert pianist is completely cancer-free — a miracle he attributes to both his Christian faith, his wife of 28 years, actress Connie Selleca, and the wisdom of doctors.
“If it had not been for my wife, Connie, I probably would’ve taken myself out,” he admitted. “When faith was born, I was healed of not just cancer, but arthritis as well. I realized, for the first time, the difference between faith and unbelief.
“Romans talks about the renewing of your mind, and Jesus talks about being ‘double-minded.’ You can have faith, but what happens at 2 a.m. when you think the cancer cells are multiplying? Or you think God is going to take care of your depression and sickness but doubt creeps in?”
“God,” he continued, “wants to lavish blessings on His people; He wants them well. Ending your own life is never in His plan for you. Churches will preach that Jesus took your sins, but there’s a second part to that, and that is that He took your grief and sorrows and sickness on the cross, as well.”
Tesh documents his recovery from cancer in his latest and most personal memoir, Relentless: Unleashing a Life of Purpose, Grit and Faith. He also gives readers an intimate look at his rise as a television anchor, his musical career, and his decades-long marriage.
“I think a lot of us, when we actually sit down and think about it, have interesting stories to tell and can see God’s faithfulness when we begin to connect the dots,” he shared.
“As I wrote this book, I noticed a pattern of saying ‘yes’ when situations were risky and well-beyond my training. Patterns of fighting through suffering, stoicism, and obstacles. I wanted to tell my story to encourage others to have relentless faith, no matter what they’re facing.”