And again, blessed are all they that mourn, for they shall be comforted. (3 Ne. 12:4)
"Why me, Lord, when I'm trying to return? Is cancer the thanks I get for coming back to church?"
Born and raised in the Church in Southern California, Randy Lamb became less active as a 16-year-old priest. Never losing his testimony, he finally admitted after many years that finding true happiness was not possible outside the Church.
In November 1994, Randy returned to Church, finding a loving bishopric and welcoming members in the Manhattan 3rd (Singles) Ward. Growth in the gospel came quickly for Randy, with a calling as assistant stake building manager coming the next February. In April he received the Melchizedek Priesthood and was ordained an elder. In October he obtained a patriarchal blessing, and in November 1995 he was endowed in the Washington, D.C. temple, surrounded by members of the singles ward.
Shortly thereafter, Randy decided to take care of a slow-growing cyst between two fingers of his left hand. He'd noticed the cyst for several years, but only recently had it begun to bother him. Assured by the surgeon it was benign, Randy had same-day surgery in February 1996 and thought nothing more of it.
Two weeks later, he received an unexpected call from his doctor and found himself talking to the chief of pathology. "This has been grossly underplayed to you. We don't know the exact type, but whatever kind of tumor, it is highly malignant and very likely metastatic." He was told that further surgery was imperative, and he would probably have to lose two fingers.
Randy went home stunned and unable to concentrate. His only thought was to find another opinion, just one physician who would tell him that no more surgery would be necessary.
His home teacher gave him a blessing at this time, telling him to reach out to others for support, but Randy felt great disappointment when the words "your cancer is gone" never came. Second opinions from various surgeons and oncologists arrived over the next few weeks, but each one confirmed that an operation must follow.
As he accepted that surgery was the correct medical decision, Randy became angry at the thought of being forced to live with a disfigured hand. One Sunday in March, he protested to a bishopric member, "Where in the scriptures am I required to save my own life? Show me." The counselor calmly responded, "If you can't find enough value in your life for yourself, do it for those people who'll be blessed by your being around." As he listened, Randy felt the Spirit and decided to allow the procedure to occur.
On the Sunday before the surgery, Randy's bishop blessed him that he'd make it through and that the surgeon would be guided as well. Randy had anticipated that the immediate time before the operation would be impossible to bear, but on the night before and morning of the appointed day he felt nothing but peace. Randy believes he was personally blessed by the ministering of angels.
The following week was fast Sunday, and Randy bore his testimony, sharing his experience and gratitude for a testimony of the Savior. It took several months to physically and emotionally overcome the operation, but Randy never wavered in his activity and service in the Church. In June he was called as a gospel doctrine teacher, and in August 1996, less than two years after returning to activity, he was ordained a high priest and set apart as a member of the stake high council. Only months after the operation did he fully appreciate all his blessings. "I already had cancer a long time before I returned to the Church. He brought me back that I might have access to the blessings of the priesthood, the ministering of angels, and the love of the members."
Today Brother Lamb, who works as director of Financial Systems for Lutheran Medical Center in Brooklyn, continues to use his experiences to help others. He was recently called to the bishopric of the Manhattan 3rd Ward.