I’ve intentionally not written much about my experiences with prostate cancer since the initial diagnosis and subsequent surgery. I won’t go into the reasons for that other than to say that there’s really been on earth shattering developments that I thought y’all would be interested in.
So let me backtrack a bit to set this up properly. Since the beginning, with the initial diagnosis, I’ve never felt the need to shake my fist at God and say “why me, Lord?” Quite the contrary; why not me? It’s not like cancer is some rare, exotic malady, like Dracunculiasis (click that link at your own peril) or Blue Eye disease (OK, that one applies pretty much only to pigs). I suspect that every person reading this knows at least a handful of people fighting cancer, and that possibly includes you, dear reader. The National Cancer Institute estimates that almost four in ten people in the United States will develop some form of cancer in their lifetimes. So, again, why not me?
As I said in a prior post, the surgery was almost completely successful, but “almost” is is problematic when it comes to cancer treatment. The surgeon said that there were likely cancerous cells that he was unable to remove, and this was somewhat confirmed by the first ultra sensitive PSA test I had three months after the operation. The results were still quite low, however, and after a bit of negotiation, the doctor agreed that we could wait three months for another uPSA test before deciding whether radiation treatment would be needed.
During that three months — which ended earlier this week — I was encouraged by a multitude of people, a number of whom I’ve never met, who were praying for me. My own prayer was pretty straightforward: Lord, I pray boldly that You’ll remove all traces of cancer from my body, but regardless, not my will but Yours be done. I pray that whatever my situation, I will not cease to give You the glory, and that I will be an encouragement to others and a witness to Your love and grace. I truly was at peace with whatever my lot might be.
Let’s cut to the chase, shall we? I got the results of the second uPSA on Thursday around noon. I won’t claim that opening those results via the hospital’s app wasn’t done with a certain amount of trepidation. Perhaps you can imagine my relief when the test results showed a PSA level that essentially falls into the category of undetectable…much lower than the first uPSA results.
Now, I have to wait for formal confirmation from the surgeon, with whom I have a videoconference on Monday, before announcing that there will be no required radiation treatments in my immediate future…but I’m positive that that will be the decision. What a blessing!
In the under-appreciated movie Joe Versus the Volcano, at the end of the film the main characters have just made a miraculous escape from the titular volcano and are floating on a raft in the middle of the ocean after the volcanic island sinks into the depths. Patricia (Meg Ryan) rejoices in their salvation, but Joe Banks (played by Tom Hanks) points out that they’re still floating in the middle of the ocean, far from civilization. Patricia responds to his pessimism by saying “it’s always going to be something with you, isn’t it Joe?”
I’m Joe Banks. Even amidst my relief and joy at the good news, there are two undercurrents of conflicting emotions flowing the other direction.
First is the knowledge that the test results, while extremely positive and encouraging, do not mean that I’m cured…that I’m cancer-free. There will inevitably be periodic tests in the future, and I’ll wait with bated breath for the results each time. Lord, I believe; help Thou my unbelief.
Then there’s this: the reason for the title of this post. Maybe I’m not cured, but maybe I am. And regardless, at this point in time, I can honestly say that prayers have been answered in the affirmative and life is good. So…why me, and not the dozen or so people on my prayer list (as well as the countless others I don’t know) — many of whom are dealing with cancer that’s much more serious than mine, and whose faith is much stronger than mine — who are not getting the same affirmation and good news? I guess I’m experiencing a bit of survivor’s guilt, and I don’t know how to feel about that.
God is sovereign, the omnipotent Creator and Ruler of all that was, and is, and ever shall be, and His ways are as far above mine as Heaven is above Hell. I won’t pretend to understand His plan for me, much less for others, but, dang…sometimes it’s hard to contemplate.
So, all I know to do is to do for others what has been done for me: continue to lift them up in prayer every day, not only for healing but also for peace, strength, and the assurance that God’s grace is sufficient. That’s my pledge to you folks, who are either actual family, or feel like family to me, even if we’ve never met; for you, Jerry… Larry… Lynellen… Audrey… Janice… Jennifer… Frank… Jim… Jacquie… Kayla… Kevin… John. May God provide you with everything you and your family need, and may you rest in the sure knowledge of His love and grace.
I’ve said it before, but I don’t really know how prayer works, even after six plus decades of doing it. I have only the vaguest, most rudimentary understanding of the mind of God, but I have the assurance that one day, it will all become clear. Until then, I hope you’ll join me in worshipping the God Who cares and heals, and in praying for those who need that care and healing so badly. Because, whether or not we understand how or why…He answers prayer.
God is good all the time. I’m thankful that mine and so many other prayers were answered. Keep the faith as I know you will. And, you both got the girl in the end. Keep the faith Debbie too. Love ya both.
Thanks, Danny. You and Linda are very special to us.
My prayers are with you…God is so good. And, He knows what lies ahead!
Thanks you, Lee…you’re exactly right!
God always answers, and sometimes His answer coincides with our wishes. Glad this has been the case with your brain cloud. (Substitute appropriate body part for brain; I’m not going there…)
😄 Ah, another JvsV fan. Muchas gracias, amigo!
For years I thought I never prayed. I “wished” for things such as healing, knowledge and such until one day I felt I had an epiphany. Maybe I had been praying all along. I really turned my prayers up to full bore when our daughter had cancer. I even asked God to take me instead of her if it came to that. He did me one better as my daughter was healed and I’m still here. I’m still trying to fulfill my end of the bargain but I fail regularly and miserably. When asked if I am a Christian, my answer is always, “I try to be but I don’t feel I am the one to make that call.” I agree with you in the question, “Why NOT me?” when I meet hardship.
Norman, rest assured that you’re a Christian, and it’s not because you’re trying…it’s simply (and permanently) because you’re believing. Take comfort in that assurance, brother. 🤗
Eric, I’m so glad your news today is POSITIVELY HOPEFUL! God is good and His plan for each of us is a beautiful mystery. Our faith continues to carry us along life’s path. Tommy has just completed radiation treatments for T-Cell Lymphoma and is responding well. But as with you, as with us all, prayers are appreciated. God bless you and Debbie along your journey!
Elaine, thank you! I didn’t know about Tommy, and I will add him to my prayer list for a speedy and complete recovery. Many blessings to you and your family!
Thoughts and prayers for you and Deb, Eric. Your father was one of my Sunday school teachers, and I recall his motto to trust in God in all things. Best wishes, amigo.
Thanks, Robert…I really appreciate it.
Eric, I’m so happy for such great news! God is so good and He does answer our prayers. I do understand the survivor guilt completely as there was a man in my Bible Study class that had colon cancer when I did and was such a devoted Christian. He passed away and I was baffled as to why he was taken and not me because he was such a better Christian than me. I’m not positive but recently my 43 year old son was diagnosed with stage 4 colorectal cancer that spread to his lungs and liver and has a 15% chance to live 5 years. I think God left me to take care of him and his family. You and Debbie have been in my prayers and will continue to be and I pray y’all enjoy every bit of life and always keep the faith.
Mary Ann, thanks so much for stopping by, and for your encouragement. And your take on God’s plan for your life and your son’s may well be 100% accurate…in any event, I know you’re a special blessing to your son, and God is pleased with you. I don’t know his name; if you don’t mind sharing it that would be great, but I’ll have him on my prayer list regardless since God knows.
We had no idea. Steve told me this morning, after he read this post. We are thankful for your good news and will be praying for continued good news for both you and Deb. We love you both and miss you both and hope to see you in the near future!
Hi, Janie! I haven’t been keeping things a secret, but I’ve also tried not to bore people with any blow-by-blow accounts. We sure appreciate your prayers and encouragement; you both are very special to us, and I hope y’all are doing well in every respect. May God grant you the desires of your hearts! (And if you’re ever in the neighborhood, be sure to come see us!)