GILBERT, Minn. — The Rev. Nathan Lobb is no stranger to putting things in God's hands.
He and his family initially thought the power of prayer — with the help of the "Great Physician" — was the 61-year-old's only hope for surviving Stage 4 cancer.
But the longtime pastor who has much to live for, including a wife of 38 years, five children and 13 grandchildren (with one on the way), took a great big leap of faith recently after learning of an alternative cancer treatment available in Arizona.
Lobb, of Palo, is now "very hopeful" the special care, in addition to spiritual assistance, will give him an improved chance of surviving the cancer that was initially labeled "terminal," he said by phone from his current home away from home near the treatment center in Phoenix.
Lobb's daughter, Sarah Samson, started a GoFundMe web page to help with the costly treatments not covered by insurance, the Mesabi Daily News reported.
She, along with Lobb's niece, Sarah Shaulis — who is also working to promote local benefits for the pastor, including a rummage sale at the end of the month in Gilbert — explained the beginning their dad's and uncle's journey with a difficult-to-treat lung cancer.
Lobb, who has served as pastor of the Lakeland Baptist Church in Gilbert for more than 30 years, had been feeling ill for several months, Samson said.
It wasn't alarming since he had been in contact with people who had the flu, Shaulis said. And in May, Lobb was diagnosed with and treated for pneumonia.
The antibiotics didn't resolve his symptoms, however, and Lobb ended up in a Duluth hospital, where fluid drained from his lungs revealed the true diagnosis of Stage 4 small cell lung cancer.
Lobb said he had been experiencing back pain, and "in the back of my mind I thought it could be cancer."
The diagnosis was a shock to others, however. Samson said her dad is a non-smoker and lung cancer was "not something the doctors even looked for" initially.
Lobb even grows and eats organic foods, Shaulis added.
"The most difficult part was having to tell my kids (who range in age from 18 to 36) I have cancer," Lobb said.
Conventional chemotherapy, radiation and surgery were not viable options for Lobb's "type and stage of cancer," Samson explained. Her father began treating the cancer with natural methods, but after three months the tumor in his lung had grown.
That's when Lobb heard about the EuroMed Foundation Alternative Cancer Treatment Center in Phoenix — a facility that takes "a holistic approach to treating various types of cancer using both traditional and alternative therapies and procedures," according to the center's website.
Lobb said he has a personal connection to someone who had "good results" from treatment there.
After being accepted into the program, Lobb and his wife, Donna, headed to Phoenix in mid-August, and treatments began recently.
That's when Lobb received the first of many generous gifts from others. Through a connection with the church, the couple was offered a condo to stay at during the 10 weeks of treatment.
Lobb said he wants to note that "we were offered care in Duluth that was as good as in any major cancer center in the country." However, "it's important that if people don't like a prognosis to do some looking."
The EuroMed Foundation specializes in a method developed in Europe called insulin potentiation therapy (IPT) that uses a much lower dose of chemotherapy than traditional practices.
Lobb explains it like this: On treatment days, patients fast to lower their blood sugar, which is carefully monitored until it reaches an established low number. Once it hits that number, chemotherapy "in a sugar solution" is administered.
The idea is for the "cancer cells to get as hungry for sugar as possible" so that they "grab onto" the chemo. The patient then eats to increase and maintain a normal blood sugar.
The "targeted" method is used "for a lot of difficult or impossible-to-treat" cancers such as his, Lobb said.
In addition to IPT, patients follow certain dietary guidelines and a regimen of supplements and intravenous Vitamin C. During those IV treatments, patients at the center gather together to talk and support one another, said Lobb, who has met individuals from across the country.
After the 10 weeks of IPT, maintenance treatments are administered every so many months.
It's an expensive endeavor, said Lobb, who was worried "we would have to remortgage the house. . I was afraid I would die and my wife would be saddled with a new mortgage."
The out-of-state treatment is not covered by Lobb's insurance and runs a minimum of $5,500 per week, said Samson, who launched the Nathan Lobb's Cancer Treatment GoFundMe page Aug. 15. It has so far raised more than $18,000 of the $55,000 goal.
Lobb said he is immensely grateful for the many contributions which have already assured the family won't need to remortgage their home.
It's easy, he said, to "think people are stingy and uncaring," but that's not the case with Iron Rangers when people are in need, said the pastor.
Proceeds from a rummage sale set for Sept. 28-29 at the Gilbert Community Center will also benefit the Lobb family.
Samson said her father is always helping others, and "it's good to see people taking care of him, too."
Even after being diagnosed with cancer, "he's still reaching out to other people. . He's still focused on others," Shaulis added.
In fact, it's actually "a blessing" that the treatment center is so far away or her dad would be trying to do even more, Samson said. "Now he has to rest."
Since beginning the treatments, Lobb said he has experienced "less pain and more lung capacity."
"That does not necessarily mean that there is less cancer, but that the inflammation is reduced," he wrote on his CaringBridge web page.
"We are excited to see the work of 'The Great Physician' in the coming weeks," Samson wrote on the GoFundMe page.
The kindness that friends, family and even acquaintances and strangers have shown thus far is overwhelming, said Lobb, tearfully adding that "I know a lot of it is a human response of compassion and love, but I give God the glory for it. He's the one who moves my heart to give when someone else has a need."
"Thank you," he said, "in the biggest way . to everyone who has chosen to help us in different ways."
What's now "most important" said the pastor, "isn't if I beat the cancer or the number of years I live, but that I'm 'right' with God and ready to face him.
"I need to be a good spokesperson for God no matter what happens with this cancer."
An AP Member Exchange shared by the Mesabi Daily News.