About John Gronnel

John is a founding member of the You Are Not Alone Ministry and he makes himself available to provide support line services to YANA comfort package recipients. You can read more about his personal journey through cancer by visiting the "Our Stories" webpage.

They will run and not grow weary …

Hello YANA Family,

One of our favorite scriptures here at YANA is Isaiah 40:31, “…but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” I was reading a Care Package (CP) request last week and a flood of suppressed memories and emotions came back to me from my second cancer battle. She described how the chemo burns and how she can feel it when she touches the tubing that connects the catheter in her arm.

I remembered during one of my many hospital stays, a nurse was hooking me up to the machine that drips the chemo. Suddenly, the tubing came out of the bag and splattered all over me, the bed, and the room. The chemo liquid started streaming down the tubing. The nurse tried to stop the liquid from coming out, screaming for help as the chemo started burning.

A team came into the room with what looked like hazmat suits and were able to get the situation under control. When everything settled down I noticed that everywhere the chemo splattered it burned small holes or discolored the cloth it touched. They had to quarantine off the room and move me after being cleaned.

This moment stayed mentally tormenting to me for the remainder of that hospital stay. I will admit that day I wanted to give up and die.

So why tell this story to people whose spirits need to be uplifted, not reminded of the suffering and horrible effects of these drugs? I can say without hesitation that Isaiah 40:31 got me through this horrible experience. As I lay there all I could do was repeat this promise over and over until I started to understand it, trust in it and really believe with every part of my being. God saw me through that day and I am here to tell you he will do the same for you.

Our relentless prayer for all we touch battling cancer is that you place your hope in the LORD, that your strength be renewed and you soar on wings like eagles.

All of you who are healthy and reading this please reach out to a cancer patient today by sending a YANA care package. You can help them soar like eagles, by providing the faith, hope and love of God today.

I love you all so very much, John

Maybe….Bringing streams of living water to the dark places

Hello YANA Family,

Let me share this story of Erika, a loving daughter and college student who requested a care package (CP) for her mother, Lucy.  For the last 15 years, Lucy’s condition has required her to have 200 cancerous polyps removed every three months and she is currently undergoing experimental chemo.

I will spare you the details of what chemo and surgery have done to her body, but as I read the request I cried like a baby.  I admit this happens a lot as these stories come in.

I shared Lucy’s story with the YANA member who sent the package.  I wanted her family to know a little about the people they were blessing.  She told me it drove them to their knees.  This, I explained, is where YANA resides – in the deepest, darkest depths of human suffering and pain.  Our YANA family reaches into the middle of all this suffering to provide God’s faith, hope and love.  Because our family continues to grow we are now able to send CP’s to anyone, anytime, anywhere.

 If you feel compelled in your heart of hearts,  add a comment with a note of encouragement, scripture verse, poem, or reflection.  I will gather them all and send it to the family.

If you’ve never been through this, it is hard to imagine just how much impact a short message will have on someone suffering

My mind reflects on John 17:38, “Whoever believes in me, as the scriptures has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.”

I look forward to passing on the stream of living waters to Lucy and Erika from all of our YANA family.

I love you all so much, John

Precious in His sight

Hello YANA family! In today’s blog I want to share about a truly inspiring person. I had the privilege to meeting a young eight-year-old (“I am almost 9 Mr. John”) she is a cancer warrior who due to her age will remain nameless. I have permission to share her picture and here she is with Bill and me. You can see in the picture bracelets she made out beads. She was so excited to give them to us. She made them because she heard about how YANA gives care packages to patients and she just wanted to help too. Once she heard we were going to be at a 5K race she stayed up until midnight the night before making these beautiful bracelets. We are going to be including them in the care packages and I am happy to report to all of you, the first one with a bracelet went out this weekend.

YANA Precious OneWhat touched me most about this young girl was how pure of heart and purpose she was as she made these simple bracelets. Hearing her tell the story about the bracelets I felt like I was looking at the pure light of God’s love. I told a dear friend Gary and Cindy that I was so glad that I have lived to see that day and meet this young girl. God puts people in our path so we can learn more about Him and his nature. I am aspire as I continue on with YANA wherever God leads us, that I can have that same pure light and purpose. I want to reach more and more cancer patients with God’s Faith, Hope and Love. Thank you young beautiful girl, you have inspired me to new levels of Love for God and how important the work we are doing in His mighty power and grace.

I pray that more will join us in this great mission to reach those battling cancer. You may not think you have much to offer but I stand here today to tell you that indeed you do. Just like this precious little girl story about making bracelets will spread across a country to touching lives. Your can do the same by tying knots in a home made blanket, making a card, or making a chemo cap. We are open to anything that will show faith,hope and love to a patient. We reach people when they are in their deepest need. We can use you and the talents you have. Like the fishes and loaves a little boy gave to Jesus, He transformed it to feed five thousand. God is doing a mighty work and we need you.

> I Love you all,
> John

Trust and Perfect Peace

You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, is the Rock eternal.” Isaiah 26:3-4. In our devotional we have been reading a great deal about trust and peace. To be able to trust in the Lord is my prayer for everyone that we at YANA come in contact with.

What I have learned time and time again through my journey with cancer is that I have such little control over the events that affect my life. When I think I’m in control that is the time to watch out, I am approaching a danger zone. My trust has to be in the one who is truly in control. The one who tells me: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called to his purposes.” Romans 8:28

I have a choice every day to either trust or ignore that He said He is working in all things bringing good in my life, even when I can’t comprehend the circumstances. The more I choose to trust by considering who it is I am putting my trust in, the greater my peace. If you are struggling today with the circumstances you are facing take time to reflect on these two passages of scripture. Each of us has a choice to make the Lord our Rock by trusting in His promises. I can say without hesitation that I am so glad that I can put my trust in a living and loving God.


We would love to hear your comments feel free to reply to this blog.

When A Blanket is More Than Just A Blanket

I am always deeply touched by the comments we receive from cancer patients who’ve been given a YANA Care Package. Recently, two of those responses especially moved me. Each shared how the blanket in the Care Package brought them to tears. One of our new friends in Santa Ana wrote, “I was so touched, I wanted to cry so hard and scream.”

I began thinking, how can a simple handmade blanket affect someone so deeply?

YANA collage 5.19

Then I thought about all the people, of all ages and skill levels that help to prepare the fleece blankets. I can’t adequately explain the joy and love I see on the faces of those who are cutting and tying the blankets. I wish all of you who receive a blanket could see first hand the LOVE that is poured out for you as they are being made. It is a deep Love that we believe comes from God and is specifically meant for you.

So many times people write to us explaining how the care package arrived at just the right moment when they needed an expression of Faith, Hope and Love. For me, that is when a blanket truly becomes more than just a blanket.

All of us at YANA want you to know in very simple and practical ways that we LOVE you very much, and we are here for you. One of my favorite chapters in the bible, 1 Corinthians 13 speaks to the depth and fullness of that love that comes through faith in God:

(1)If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. (2) If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. (3) If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

(4) Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. (5) It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. (6) Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. (7) It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

(8) Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. (9) For we know in part and we prophesy in part, (10) but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. (11) When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. (12) For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.(13) And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

John Gronnel


Free to Be Me

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is —- His good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:1&2)

Praying over what to write about this week for the blog my thoughts and prayers were captivated by Romans 12.  I continue to ask myself what does it mean to me, on a personal level; not to conform to the pattern of his world?  I know I fall short in this area all too often it especially haunted me during my treatment.  One example while going through my bone marrow transplant I hit rock bottom, by far the most difficult thing I have ever gone through.  During this time I had countless people show us love by sending text, cards, visit, pictures, phone calls to encourage my family and me.  However, the sicker I got, and worse I felt the more I dwelt on the person that remained silent.  He is an old friend of over 30 years who we have walked through life together from childhood.   The “pattern of this world” that I so easily fall prey to is keeping score.  Every time I find myself doing this mentally I go to a bad place, and only see the negative in the situation.  During treatment was no different; my mental state left me with he just doesn’t care anymore.  What kind of friend would abandon someone when they are in a life and death struggle?  I hate to say it but I could go on but you get the idea.

Being transformed by the renewing of your mind for me, means breaking through this natural pattern of keeping score by renewing my mind daily.  I have found that regardless of how sick I feel I need to thank God that he has given me another day.  It’s another day to love and share with my family, friends and others who are struggling like we do through this horrible disease.  The further I get from treatment the more I have to remind myself that I need to be renewed every morning of everyday.  I like to start the day with Jesus Calling and I usually read the scriptures first and see what God will say to me.  Then I like to read the insight from Sarah and carry it into the day.  The day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.  I love you all and hope to hear from you and how you have been renewed.  We at YANA we love to bring Hope to others with your thoughts.

I Am Weak, But He is Strong …

As I read the devotional for September 2nd out of Jesus Calling Paul says, “I boast in my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest in me.” (2 Cor. 12:9-10)

Thinking about stories of people in the Bible such as Moses, Joshua, David and Paul I am struck by their weaknesses. By themselves their weaknesses made them not effective. But when they put their complete trust in God, they became strong, courageous and effective for the work God called them to do.

God sometimes used very simple objects to accomplish his work, such as a staff, trumpet or a small stone. But in the hands of someone yielded to God these “simple” objects changed history and glorified His name.

When I am relying on my myself there is fear, anxiety and a feeling of being out of control. Just think how God can use me when I acknowledge that I am weak on my own and that through him all things are possible.

Reflections on Our God who Heals

G0d has uniquely designed our bodies to heal after an injury.    I love this week’s devotional. As I read through it again the line that jumped off the page to me was, “I AM A GOD WHO HEALS.” When I first read this three years ago I was undergoing a bone marrow transplant.  This was by far and away the most difficult treatment or trial I had faced, including  painfully horrific cancer treatments. During the transplant I struggled with how to pray.  Do I pray for healing?  Do I pray for God to take away all my pain like Paul did regarding the “thorn in the flesh.”  I received the most peace and comfort when I prayed with Matthew 6:33 present in my mind… “Seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”  I prayed and also sang this passage to God knowing that if I truly let go of my wishes and wants, then regardless of how the treatment turned out, everything would be alright.

I find there is a calming peace and joy that’s difficult to explain when I just do what Jesus teaches us to do in Matthew 6.  My prayer for you this week is that you read and find the courage to pray this passage and “seek first His Kingdom”…God will do amazing things with and though you for His glory.   Please feel free to write me and share your thoughts and how we can minister to you or your loved one.  John

Be Still and Wait Patiently for Him…

We are invited by Psalms 37:7 to “be still and wait patiently for Him…”  My journey as a cancer patient has been filled with waiting, as I am sure yours has been as well.  It seems like we are always waiting for news that others who have never gone through this can’t relate to.  News like test results, results of scans, treatment plans, or waiting to find out what effect the treatment will have this time.   I must admit that when I try to take it on my own shoulders, waiting only leads me to fret like the psalm warns against.  As difficult as “being still and waiting” is for a typical type “A” personality, I draw great strength from God when I allow myself the pleasure of being still.  As I quiet my mind and release my worries and frets to HIM I am inevitably filled with His grace and peace.

This week in the stillness of the morning, before the onslaught of the day’s activities, let’s commit to start our day by being still before the Lord, waiting patiently before Him.  Psalm 37 goes on to say in verse 11 that the “meek will inherit the land and enjoy great peace”.  I find that being still and waiting patiently for Him is the key that unlocks meekness in my life, which leads to “great peace”.    John

Words of Encouragement & Comfort | YANA BLOG

This weekly blog is dedicated to the encouragement of all who have been affected by cancer or serious illness. We know first hand how difficult it can be to find hope in the middle of the trials and suffering these diseases bring. Each week we will loosely follow the themes advanced by Sarah Young, in her devotional, “Jesus Calling”. The blog will be written by YANA members and we invite you to get involved with us by responding below.

Our deepest desire is to accomplish what one of our beautiful YANA friends Cynthia once said about her life desire. “I uses to say that if I am healed I want to be humble about it. Now I want to bring glory to God.”  To this we say Amen! It is to this end we bring you the YANA blog.

“Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance.”  Psalm 42:5