My Battle With Cancer

Let me begin this short article by saying that my recent months’ challenge became a fierce battle ground of all FOUR Growth Areas in my life; intellectual, physical, spiritual and emotional.  Battles like these are never ensured of only one outcome. But these types of battles DEMAND that one aggressively attack them from all four sides.

Almost 50. Guess it’s time for that blessed check up. So I did what most men want to avoid doing. I went ahead and gave permission to my doctor to poke, prod, and drain whatever fluid he needed to gather as much information as he needed to establish a “baseline” for my health at this stage of my life.  I must admit that my full on expectation was to leave the office having been scolded about my eating habits and handed a prescription for lowering my blood pressure and cholesterol levels.  That not being the case, the doctor said, “See ya in a few weeks and we will go over the results.”  I knew I had not been feeling well and the doctor had given me a prescription for an antibiotic.  The antibiotic seemed to have done its job.  Felt better when the time came to see the doctor once again. Went in expecting to once again walk out with my anticipated drugs.  Instead, my doctor’s words were, “I think I would like to take some more blood.” Being the impatient one that I am, I immediately shot straight with him and asked, “OK, what’s going on?” His response included, “There is one number that would like to look at again.”
OK, weeks go by once again. I’ve donated probably around a few gallons of blood over these past 6 weeks. I hope he has enough for what he needs to look at. “OK, lets go over the results. First, how are you feeling?” “OK doc, why are you even asking me these questions? I feel fine. Those antibiotics worked great. The plumbing works just fine.” “Your heart rate is excellent. Your blood pressure is down. In fact, your cholesterol is the best its been in 10 years.” I was shocked in a great way. Another bragging right to bring back to my wife; so I thought. “Now, don’t get too excited. There’s one number that concerns me a little.” I may not be the sharpest tac in the box, but I know when to pause and start to wonder. When your barber says, “Oops” is one of those things you don’t want to hear. Another is when your doctor uses the word “concern.” “Your PSA number is almost three times what it should be for a man as young as you.”

Just one number.  What’s PSA anyways? I remember when PSA was an airline out of Southern California. Without going into too many specifics I will say that while it literally stands for “Prostate-specific antigen” (a protein measurement in the prostate gland), a high number when measured from blood work can often indicate the presence of prostate cancer. So, needless to say I was immediately referred to a colleague of his for further “exploration.”
My first visit was cordial. Nice guy. Go figure, he ordered more blood tests. Before I knew it, without offering me dinner I was being examined up the tunnel. And without hesitation the doctor immediately and anxiously communicated that he wanted to do biopsies. My numbers were three times what they should be. My prostate was “much larger than normal.” And lastly, the doctor did not like what he felt while performing his exam.
Now, another wave of emotions flooded my head. Over the past few months I hadn’t shared this “one number” information with anyone. I knew that my wife would figure something was up. Sure enough, like clockwork, following this visit my wife called me on my cell phone and asked what was going on. As I told her what had been happening over the past few months, I could hear her tears roll down her cheeks as she listened and asked questions. So here I am driving home, crying a bit myself and trying my best on how to come along side of my wife who is also just then experiencing what I had several weeks to begin coping with. Where do we go from here?
Well, the biopsies came next, all 12 of them. I will completely spare you the details here. Next was another waiting period for the “final call.” Impatience began to set in with me. I wanted to get moving and fight. Those next few days felt like some of the longest days. The waiting was only shortened by those few moments when I was alone and truly able to sit back, take in, and thoroughly enjoy the weather around me. Then life interrupts you and you get to come back to reality and begin to move forward, not sure what the “new normal” is going to look like.

Well, initially like most people, I had been locked onto what the internet had to say regarding every little question I had. And like most crisis moments the first page of any search brings up the most sought answers which also happen to contain a large amount of doom and gloom. I researched day after day to “get ahead” and put my head around anything intellectually that had to do with this subject. Much of this information surrounded the physical consequences of such cancer. Every moment of this search was enveloped with overwhelming emotions whose goal (it seemed) was to destroy my resolve and bring on hopelessness and fear.
It was then that I began to realize and acknowledge that this battle also contained a spiritual element. In fact I began to just know in my heart that this challenge for me was a spiritual attack at its core. I just knew this in the deepest part of my heart. Hard to explain. The emotional onslaught never went away. I have so much respect for anyone going through new journeys and difficult seasons while attempting their best to maintain some sort of normalcy in their daily routine. I have had the honor and privilege of walking these type of journeys with many before. There have been many tears shed of both sorrow and joy along the way. Now, it is my turn to walk my own journey with my own family. Nothing can prepare you for this.

So my wife and I chose to first tell our children and then only a select few others. In our bedroom with our three kids sitting and standing around the bed we shared with them about the journey that lay ahead of us. Each of them responded in their own and uniquely individual way. One was outwardly emotional. Another quietly began to shed tears while yet another showed his concern by asking how I felt. Each took THAT moment to react and reveal their true self in a crisis moment. Interesting how each of them were true to their inner character/personality through their reactions. After the emotions subsided a bit, I explained to them that I felt intensely that this battle was spiritual at its core. We had trusted and well versed doctors to help with the intellectual understanding and physical aspect of what lied ahead. Now I asked they not just hit the social media and blitz an announcement style of cry for help. I requested that my family and a handful of prayer warriors enter this battle together privately and boldly. For me my Christian faith is my Rock in times like these. This never negates the level of difficulty. It brings me comfort and confidence in whatever lies ahead for me and my family. My approach to times like these with myself, my family and/or others is to approach the Creator of the universe because of Jesus Christ through the power of His Spirit. And that is how the prayers began and continued for days.
The time came and my wife and I went to the doctor’s office to wait on the results of the biopsies. As we sat in the room, we were quiet, quiet enough to overhear the conversations of the rooms next to us. I can remember hearing my doctor have the same conversation with another patient that I had with him only weeks earlier. And then I heard another conversation with another patient that I knew was coming my way. While sitting there, our nerves were screaming and I was ready to get the fight going, not ever being the type of person who loved to wait for much.
(I really struggled at this point for a variety of reasons. Yet my biggest struggle to this point was believing in my heart that this physical challenge was nothing for the Great Physician. I knew if He wanted to heal me, He could. Yet I also found myself in preparation mode for the fight that lied ahead. Where did my confidence lie? Of what was I convinced? Not a second went by each day and night that my heart and mind didn’t swing back and forth from a deep and unwavering desire for healing and determination/preparation for the battle at hand. Was it disbelief or lack of faith if I prayed for healing yet prepared for the inevitable physical battle that awaited us? I am sure I am not unique with this range of feelings. I just wanted to share this with those of you who might have gone through something similar.)
The doctor entered the room. As I shook his hand and introduced him to my wife, I told him that I had brought the “big guns” to this meeting. He put on his warm and consistent smile. He rolled his chair on wheels to where he could see both my wife and I. And with his head slightly held down he began to shake and lift up his head with a look of perplexity I will never forget. With his eyebrows raised high he said, “I have good news, there is no cancer.” Both my wife and I didn’t know what to do or say. There was no immediate jumping for joy oddly enough. I came with questions and wanted them answered, dang it. It’s as if I came for a fight and the other guy didn’t show up. I told the doctor I still had questions. My wife on the other hand interrupted and said, “Don’t say anything, let’s just go.” It was then that both the doctor and I laughed. I asked a few of my questions and we left. My wife and I just sat in my truck, a bit numb and overjoyed at the same time. Not knowing what to do for a few minutes we just sat there. We were both exhausted. It was time to rest.

The next few days have come and gone. We rejoiced with our “team of warriors” and gave all glory to God. This was and is His victory no matter how you decide to slice it. As we shared with our kids, we were able to once again see their uniqueness shine as they each responded to this news according to their character/personality. One reacted outwardly emotionally, one more quietly and one asking me how I felt.
While this battle with cancer was short, its significance has forever impacted our lives. We were prepared for a journey of a different outcome. This short season in our life has been placed in our lives for a reason. And I have chosen to share this with y’all for no other reason than that you and/or others might be encouraged though it.

Now, I even hesitated to publish this article because of its potential to upset some who have had similar journeys with different outcomes. I assure you that is not my intention. My desire from this article is only to provide hope and strength for anyone during his/her journey/season of life. So please read and/or share this with anyone who might just need an ounce of encouragement during their rough season.
As always, I remain available for you, even if you just need a listening ear.