Faith Leadership Board

SURVIVEiT® understands that faith is a crucial element for many individuals in their cancer journey. The faith component is perhaps one of the most personal parts of this very personal disease. A cancer diagnosis will often times challenge both attitude and faith. The Faith Leadership Board bears a specific responsibility to provide others with the same faith support opportunitities that they were blessed with, however will never violate anyone's freedom of spiritual preference.

Jeff Gould - South Dakota

Q. If you had one minute to tell someone about yourself, what would you say?

A. I love to learn and am curious about many things. I am excited about where my life is going, and like to hear and share stories about things I’ve learned

Q. What does living a "purpose driven life" mean to you?

A. To lean into each day with an understanding of the overall direction in which God is taking me.

Q. What is the best way to support someone (and their family) who has just been diagnosed with cancer?

A. Fellowship and prayer.

Q. Where do you find hope, inspiration and strength?

A. Scripture, friends of faith, sleep, and time away.

Q. What do you want others to know about living a life guided by faith?

A. It’s not what you think it might be, but in ways that are hard to explain, it is better than what you thought it might be.

Q. What has been the most rewarding experience in your life journey?

A. When you are doing something that you were made to do (in my case teaching, or speaking) there is a certain quiet joy and satisfaction that is the best feeling and very rewarding.

Q. What does SURVIVEiT’s vision, “creating a world free from the fear of cancer,” mean to you?

A. We are all born to die. Our life is not here. Cancer is a horrible thing, but the fear of cancer is far worse. The mindset that acknowledges the troubles of life (cancer being one of them) but refuses to face that trouble with fear, is a great, admirable, and I believe attainable vision.

Wilma "Willie" Wrede - Minnesota

Q. If you had one minute to tell someone about yourself, what would you say?

A. I am a survivor of pancreatic cancer, a cancer that at the time of my diagnosis had a survival rate of 4-5%.  I am so blessed to have survived and believe God used the diagnosis to get my attention.  When I was a young girl, I believe I heard the voice of God calling me to be a minister.  I didn’t believe I could minister so I went my own way.  After my diagnosis, I remembered His call but didn’t feel worthy or that I had anything to offer.  Through the journey, however, I learned that I had the gift of encouragement and could offer hope with my story.

Q. What does living a "purpose driven life" mean to you?

A. Getting up in the morning and asking God to shine His light through me and asking Him to make me aware of someone who needs an encouraging word.  After my diagnosis, we began a faith based support group for people with cancer.  The time spent in the Bible and learning about God and His ways changed my life. Many days are spent encouraging others to never give up hope. A diagnosis is not the end of life, but many times it’s the beginning of life. I found by fulfilling my purpose to help others, I received so much more.    

Q. What is the best way to support someone (and their family) who has just been diagnosed with cancer?

A. People don’t care how much you know, but rather how much you care.  Listen with your heart.  Pray with them and for them.  I believe the Spirit of God guides me to call or connect with someone on the day they need to have an encouraging word or a listening heart. We need hope and I believe God heals so we can give hope to others through our story and stories of other people who have survived the odds and beat cancer.  God loves us and has a plan for our lives so never, ever give up hope. God still performs miracles, believe it!

Q. Where do you find hope, inspiration and strength?

A.  Through the Bible, Christian songs, Gospel messages, sharing with others who are or have been diagnosed with cancer.  Sometimes I get tired but when I see a smile or a tear because I gave of my time and talents, then my life has meaning.  Nothing else gives more satisfaction that knowing that you have helped someone on the day they needed it the most.  That gives me strength to continue doing what I am called to do.    

Q. What do you want others to know about living a life guided by faith?

A. Many times there are no answers as to why things happen.  “Why” is no longer my question, I now ask God what He is trying to teach me.  The Bible says to come to Him when we are weary and have burdens and He promises to give us rest.  He also promises us that He will never leave or forsake us.  I pray daily and leave all my burdens at God’s feet and have peace knowing He knows much better what I need than I do. His ways are higher than my ways so as I began to trust Him, my faith grew strong.  The greatest comfort I have is knowing that when I die, God promises me eternal life and that I will see family and friends again.

Q. What has been the most rewarding experience in your life journey?

A. Having cancer and ministering to others who have cancer.  Prior to my diagnosis, I had no purpose, I just existed.  Now I have joy, peace and a love for God and others that I never had before my diagnosis. 

Q. What does SURVIVEiT’s vision, “creating a world free from the fear of cancer,” mean to you?

A. Cancer is a very scary word and upon diagnosis, our immediate reaction is fear.  We have been taught to rely on ourselves for our direction and to know how to “fix” situations life throws our way. Because of our self-reliance, we have fears when we are faced with something to which there is no clear answer.  However, God provides us with physicians and researchers who are constantly coming up with treatments options.  With genetic testing and new treatment options, there is not a better time to be diagnosed. Treatment options are continually changing and success rates are consistently growing.  Through technology we can access the latest information to give hope - hope through treatment options and the hope of eternal life.  With God all things are possible!

Jim Rieffenberger

Q. If you had one minute to tell someone about yourself, what would you say?

A. I am a husband, and father of three. My gift of work is to help others live a called life.

Q. What does living a "purpose driven life" mean to you?

A.  A called life where God is the CEO and my role is to encourage others to find how God has called them.

Q. What is the best way to support someone (and their family) who has just been diagnosed with cancer?

A. Be a good listener. Be a friend. Be an encourager.

Q. Where do you find hope, inspiration and strength?

A. In Jesus Chris.     

Q. What do you want others to know about living a life guided by faith?

A. The peace and joy you receive when you have a relationship with God.

Q. What has been the most rewarding experience in your life journey?

A. When you help someone find their call to life.

Q. What does SURVIVEiT’s vision, “creating a world free from the fear of cancer,” mean to you?

A. To remove fear allows each of us to experience peace and joy in each precious day we have been given.

Jane L. Elterman

Q. If you had one minute to tell someone about yourself, what would you say?

A. I love to give “my all”.  I am a devout Christian, holding my faith, family, and friends very close to my heart. I am gregarious, forgiving, sincere, diplomatic, industrious, analytical and efficient. I believe in leading by example, and I love to roll my sleeves up and help others.  Others tell me that my positive outlook is infectious.  I hear that I’m “memorable”, which makes me laugh.  I often describe myself as “plain Jane”.

Q. What does living a "purpose driven life" mean to you?

A. Praying to follow God’s design for my life, petitioning Him to show me how to make a difference in all that I do.

Q. What is the best way to support someone (and their family) who has just been diagnosed with cancer?

A. Listen to their concerns, offer encouragement, let them know they aren’t alone.  Relating survivor stories seems to uplift the newly diagnosed.

Q. Where do you find hope, inspiration and strength?

A. Within in my heart, from close family & friends, from “Our Daily Bread” and “The Upper Room” Bible study guides, and from online cancer support forums. They make me feel less alone in this cancer battle. I focus on my favorite Bible verse, Jer. 29:11.  (I have a tattoo of the tree of life with the word HOPE and Jer. 29:11 on my ankle.)

Q. What do you want others to know about living a life guided by faith?

A.  If people would completely and honestly give their hearts to God, they will be thoroughly amazed at all that He will do for them.  They must remember it is His plan and His timeline.  Even when you don’t understand what is going on in your life, trust Him and I promise, you will have profound peace in your heart. 

Q. What has been the most rewarding experience in your life journey?

A. Loving my family and celebrating their milestones and accomplishments, and also helping uplifting them during times of disappointment. 

Q. What does SURVIVEiT’s vision, “creating a world free from the fear of cancer,” mean to you?

A. At present, cancer is very scary; the diagnosis will send your world into a tailspin.  Fear is an incredibly powerful emotion.  There is so much distress in our hearts and minds when we want answers and don’t have them.  The amount of quality, viable information I learn from survivors and online forums helps me make treatment decisions.  Sources for nutrition, naturopathic and spiritual guidelines help me to make decisions on how I want to live my life.  After all, “I don’t want to get to the end of my life and realize I haven’t lived the width of it!”  (Multiple credits for this quote exist.)

George Spurlock - Alabama

Q: If you had one minute to tell someone about yourself, what would you say?
A: I am a person who is passionate about life. I am a VERY proud grandfather, but most importantly, I am a child of God.

Q: What does living a purpose driven life mean to you?
A: I am not here by chance. I am here for a higher calling. I want to fulfill my purpose in life in a profound way. This drives me.

Q: What is the best way to support someone in their family who has just been diagnosed with cancer?
A: Prayer and empathy. Be a good listener.

Q: Where do you find hope, inspiration and strength?
A: My hope is in Jesus Christ. My inspiration comes from my incredible wife and my godly friends. My strength comes from God.

Q: What do you want others to know about living a life guided by faith?
A: Living the life guided by faith often eliminates the quandary of difficult decision making. Living by faith and obedience pretty much answers all my questions. My purpose, my joy, and my general outlook on life is the by-product of my faith.

Q: What has been the most rewarding experience in your life journey?
A: I have really enjoyed standing in front of an audience and sharing my faith and declaring God‘s truth.

Q: What does SURVIVEiT's vision, “Creating a world free from the fear of cancer”, mean to you?
A: In the faith community, we have all heard the saying, “let go and let God”. I think there’s a misconception that once we give our problems over to God, we are just supposed forget they exist and magically they go away. To me, giving everything to God means that no matter my circumstances, I continue my walk with God in faith. SURVIVEiT’s vision allows me to understand that using my faith as the foundation for any treatments can allow me to do so without fear. He (God) is our refuge and strength. A strong faith can alleviate fear. You see, people of faith are going to be victorious no matter what. Embracing that truth is incredibly powerful!