Dan & Rebecca Powell’s Miracle Stories Touch The Hearts of Thousands
Dan Powell never imagined his own life would hang in the balance just two years after his wife’s tragic car accident.
I met Rebecca and Dan Powell when I became a mentor for the city of Greenville’s PaceSetter’s program.
Rebecca Turner dated Dan Powell only four times before they were married, but after I heard their love story I knew I had to share with you what I’ve learned from them. It brought my work, and my world, together for a day of love like no other.
Dan, a gifted grant writer for the county of Greenville, said he knew Rebecca was ‘the one’ and she felt the same way. Someone took this picture of them (to the right) where you can see their joy after a few dates.
They each cropped themselves out of this exact photo, to upload to facebook and use as their profile picture. They liked how happy it made them look as individuals, but neither knew the other had done the exact same thing. It wasn’t until they saw each others profile pictures that they realized there had to be magic in the air if they both loved how happy they looked in this picture.
Dating Bliss Ended
On July 8th, 2011, the day started out like any other. Rebecca picked up her son, mother and sister, and set off to enjoy a treat at a nearby yogurt shop. Without warning, a suburban truck ran off the road and t-boned their car.
Though the rest of family escaped with minor injuries and were released, Rebecca’s head was injured and she lay in the driver’s seat unresponsive.
Internal bleeding had begun.
Rebecca had a broken hip and bleeding on the brain from her severe traumatic brain injury.
Dan heard the news and rushed to the hospital. Although the doctors’ prognosis was grim, feeling that Rebecca would need 24-hour care for the rest of her life if she did survive, Dan’s faith in a loving God helped him to believe otherwise. Dan fully believed Becca would recover and made the promise that when she did, he would marry her as soon as she was able to say ‘yes’. He wanted to see her walk down the isle.
Dan spent many days and nights praying for Becca and being with her family. After 20 days in a coma, Rebecca finally woke up and began the intense process of learning to eat, talk, and live again.
Miraculously, she was released from the grim prognosis just a few weeks later. It was a long arduous process to gain full use of her limbs and brain, but progress was made in a short amount of time through sheer will power and determination.
As you can see in the picture to the right, they had a lovely wedding on March 23rd, 2013, and Rebecca became influential as a walking miracle.
Then The Unthinkable
Ten months to the day, after they married, the unthinkable happened. On January 23rd of 2014, Dan received news that rocked their entire world, which had only begun to feel normal again after Becca’s accident.
I remember exactly where I was standing in my kitchen when I saw that my cell phone had a message on it. I logged into my voice mail and heard, “Kellie, its Dan. I was recently diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer and would really like to talk to you if you can call me back.”
“What?! Are you kidding me?” I was in complete shock. I immediately dialed back and Rebecca answered his phone. She’d been crying and I heard the distress in her voice as she said hello.
“Becca, its Kellie. I just heard a shocking message from Dan. Can you tell me what’s happening?”
Rebecca’s voice was shaking as she began to share how Dan had been very tired for over a month and how he had been losing weight rapidly. She wanted him to go in to see the doctor but he kept putting it off. When he finally did go, the test results came back saying he had stage 4 lung cancer and given a short time to live.
I felt my body stiffen and yet my spirit went directly toward the heart of God. I remained calm and reminded Becca of how Dan was there beside her with full belief that she would recover regardless of what the doctors said. I asked her if she could be there for him in the same way, and she immediately said she would try her best.
Since both Becca and I have had traumatic brain injuries, we know that there are times when our spirit wants to do something, but our brain exhaustion tell us its not possible. In this moment, I knew Becca was going to serve her husband in a way no one else could, no matter what it took, because of how he was there for her.
Dan’s Dream Of Greater Air Quality
When I hung up from Becca, I began thinking about my days of mentoring Dan in leadership. I recalled how he told me that he had asthma as a child. When I asked him if time, money and resources were no object, what would he do with his life, he said he would create cleaner air so everyone could breathe easier. That was also the same day we talked about persistence and not backing down. He worked on tweaking a grant proposal for a few million dollars that he had been writing. We looked things over, did some tweaking, and he eventually received the grant. This was an impressive young man.
Last October, the World Health Organization declared air pollution to be a carcinogen. Lung cancer seems inevitable for those living near areas that give off more pollution than normal, such as coal fired power plant like the one Dan lived near as a kid. It was hard to believe that Dan Powell, the air quality champion, now had lung cancer.
I felt his childhood limitation of asthma created a desire for clean air quality, and I also believed he would leave a huge impact on his community if he could keep the faith that he would heal.
Prior to this diagnosis, Dan was already the director for Keep Greenville County Beautiful, a city planner and the director of special projects for the County’s planning department. He continually sought ways to keep his hometown air clean to help others breathe easier.
Seeking the Miracle
Dan contacted me a few hours after I spoke to Becca and asked me to come to his house to teach them the following;
- how to change his negative thinking to positive
- how to juice to promote a healthier immune system
- how to eliminate stress
We set a time to get together and immediately started working on making progress while he was considering chemo treatments. Determined to research and test to find out the type of cancer he had, Dan was relentless to find out so he could tackle it the best way possible.
The testing concluded ALK-positive (anaplastic lymphoma kinase) non-small-cell lung cancer, which is found in only 4 percent of lung cancer patients. This meant that there were targeted treatments, for patients like Dan, with specific genetic mutations.
Dan was more motivated than ever to do as much as he could, whenever he could, for as many cancer patients with lung cancer as he could. During the process, he purchased a Nissan electric vehicle to prevent the spread of more toxins in the same air he’s trying to keep clean. He also continued his advocacy for more charging stations to be set up in the city to encourage people to buy electric.
In truth, I had never really thought about it before, until one day while filming him and helping him tell his story, I realized that he was right. We all need to be more consciously aware of what we’re putting into our air and do all we could to minimize pollution.
A Celebration of Miracles
A few weeks ago I was sitting in my car when I received a text from Becca with pictures attached. I knew Dan had recently celebrated his 36th birthday while in the hospital, but this time there was cause for celebration of a different kind.
She sent me a picture of two lung scans. One on the right was showing a scan of his lungs full of cancer, the one the left showed the cancer all but gone from his lungs.
When I saw these two pictures I was elated and deeply, deeply grateful.
The song “Happy” by Pharrell Williams was playing on the radio. I cranked it up and started doing a happy dance right there in my car.
When Dan and I had talked the night before my seeing this text I remembered a very important question he asked.
“Why do you think I’ve been able to see the results I have when so many other people have opposite results?”
My response: “When I asked you a year ago what you would do with your life if money, time and energy were no object – what did you say?”
He said, “I told you I’d create better air quality for the city of Greenville.”
“That’s right.” I said. “And who did you call first when the doctors told you you had 9 months to live?”
He said, “I called my mentor who deals with air quality.”
“That’s right. You had a purpose to serve the greater good Dan. You also had the right treatment, you allowed me to teach you juicing and you stayed away from sugar. We created more positive thoughts and created a video that talked about your life with Becca and how much joy you brought to each other.
You did so many things right Dan. Most people who hear the word, ‘cancer’ die emotionally because its associated with death. That’s as far as their thoughts get.”
Dan said, “Hmmm….I guess so.”
Dan and Rebecca Powell are both public speakers and advocates for living healthier lifestyles and better air quality. They’ve taught me so much about faith, hope and love.
Rebecca is also a contributing author for the best selling book God’s Miracles; True Stories of Healing and Restoration. No one would ever know she had a traumatic brain injury by looking at her, and Dan is spreading his knowledge, and his new lease on life, to as many people as he can. Both are happy, healthy individuals who give God a lot of credit for where they are today.
If you’re wanting to live with purpose, you don’t have to wait for a life-altering crisis to start living it.
Come to our 2 day transformational event in Greenville, SC, called A Day of Love on July 26th and 27th at Essentia Special Events. Find out more information here.
If you’d like to show your support to the Powell’s by sharing this post we’d all appreciate it. We all hope that more and more people will be inspired by their amazing story.
UPDATE ON DAN:
While on my way to a funeral on November 11th, Dan sent me a FB message with two thumbs up. He had resurrected an old message from more than a year ago, but why? “What was he saying?” I thought. I told myself I would respond when we returned to SC on Sunday night. Before I could speak to him, however, my friend John Daniel Powell had died of cancer. He was only 37-years-old.
As his legacy lives on in his family, and in the lives he touched, it serves as a reminder to live your life FULL OUT today, instead of waiting until tomorrow.