This is an August 2017 follow up to Plot twist: I’ve got cancer and Cancer treatment update: So far, so good. Thanks for the prayers!
Short version: Total remission! I had my 5th chemo treatment today and will have one more treatment next month as precaution. I’ll probably just have annual scans after that. Thanks for all the love, prayers and support and thank-you to Jesus for countless answered prayers.
It is interesting to rewind the tape at this point and ensure we’ve learned all we can from this and celebrated all the seemingly countless blessings God brought our way. I had cancer, but I also had Jesus — and still do — and that made all the difference.
I imagine that it works this way for many cancer patients. At some point you get an official diagnosis, but you realized you had something serious long before that. For me it was when my general practitioner called after an ultrasound (they had suspected kidney stones). He said that there was a triangle shaped thing on my kidney. I immediately knew that it was cancer, even though they wanted to do a CT scan to confirm it. In an odd way, it was good that it was cancer instead of something benign, because either way it was causing serious problems. Chemo took care of it, but had it been benign it would have involved a tricky surgery to remove. And if the cancer was part of my kidney and stomach, as it first appeared, that would have required removing the kidney and some of the stomach.
Before the PET scan that was the final confirmation that I only had this one cancer, I sat there and realized this would go one of 3 broad ways: (1) a miraculous healing, (2) the Lymphoma they had predicted that would be treatable, or (3) that there were other more serious cancers that could require more testing and/or serious procedures or be more life-threatening. By the grace of Jesus, I was truly content and at peace with any of those and was that way through the entire process. But to be candid, my reaction to range of options when you know you have cancer – which was before they officially told me — was more about laziness than fear – though I’m not sure which is worse. I was content either way trusting in Jesus, but I wanted the least amount of work for me to get the maximum glory for Jesus. I suppose that’s my Spiritual Gift of Laziness — one of the lesser known gifts, along with my Spiritual Gift of Rationalization.
The medical team was amazing. Every last person. The doctor and many of the nurses were committed believers. Oncology is a tough discipline even for the medical field. I am so grateful for their education, their hard work and their dedication in a truly challenging field. Many cases don’t work out like this. And their jobs get tougher daily with all the bureaucracy and funding requirements they deal with.
God can and does do miracles, but He will ultimately draw to him whomever He wills. But He doesn’t always do miracles. If he had cured me immediately or even partway through with a miracle I would have missed out on so many blessings. I have zero complaints about any of this.
Many people prayed for it to be miraculously removed, and that would have been fine with me. But Jesus is still the same King of Kings and Lord of Lords regardless of how this played out with me – live or die. He can be glorified in so many ways. See If I Have Enough Faith, Will God Heal Me? for more on that important topic.
And since we will all eventually die, we need to think carefully about eternity and whether we are right with the one true God. Make no mistake: I know people have been wounded by church and by Christians, heard bad theology, been repulsed at prosperity gospel preachers and seen much hypocrisy (and the Bible predicted many times that all those bad things would happen). And I’m well aware that each day Christianity becomes more in conflict with the world’s values — though that is a design feature, not a bug.
But do those things mean Jesus didn’t rise from the dead or that you should reject Christianity? Not at all. That, my fiends, is the central question of human history. If He didn’t rise from the dead, then Christianity openly admits that it would be false (1 Corinthians 15). But if He did, that changes everything. The only miracle I really need is the resurrection. Everything falls into place from there. It proves all his claims. And He affirmed the Old Testament to the last letter and authorized the New Testament, so we can trust what He has delivered to us.
Sadly, most people — even in churches! — don’t know about the evidence for the resurrection. I love pointing out how that even atheist historians concede many facts of history that support the resurrection and debunk the alternative theories (i.e., that the disciples stole Jesus’ body, that He didn’t really die, that people had mass hallucinations, etc.). Nearly 100% of historians of that time period agree that a real person named Jesus died on a Roman cross, that his followers believed He rose from the dead, that the Apostle Paul went from persecuting Christians to being the greatest evangelist in history and wrote nearly half the books of the New Testament, and more.
The cross was simultaneously the greatest evil and greatest good in history. The only perfect human ever – and God in flesh – was found guilty in a mockery of a trial, beaten, humiliated and nailed to a cross like a piece of meat until he died. Why? To save us from our sins, if only we would repent and trust in him. Please carefully consider these claims and don’t think that you will be able to sit in judgment of God or dictate the terms of eternity to him.
So whatever you do, don’t believe either of the opposite but equally wrong lies that you don’t need God because you are good enough, or that you are beyond his forgiveness because you are too bad.
Again, this is my #1 book recommendation outside of the Bible: If you would like a great summary of the Bible and Christianity, check out The Story of Reality by Greg Koukl. Though it is easy to read and less than 200 pages, it covers the major themes of the Bible from beginning to end and provides evidence as to why Christianity is true and other worldviews are not. Even if you don’t end up believing you will have a much better understanding of what you disagree with. It gives solid answers to common questions while showing how Christian worldview best conforms to reality. And if you believe it will strengthen your faith and give you something to share with others.
Again, the blessings haven’t stopped coming with this adventure. I have such a great wife and kids and extended family, and countless friends who have prayed for us and offered to help in any way. I had it fairly easy. Really, I just laid down for various scans and had medicine pumped in me while sitting in a recliner. Mrs. Eternity Matters did so much more and with such love. We had countless relationships that thawed/renewed/grew/started, and those alone would have been more than worth the price. We learned to give people the benefit of the doubt more and to be more assertive in reaching out to others who need encouragement. And so much more. So our main prayer — that we wouldn’t waste any of this — has been answered countless times, and we thank God repeatedly for that.
In short, we’ve lived what we believed, and that would have made this process better regardless of the outcome.
Thanks to everyone who offered prayers and encouragement to me and my family throughout this. You have no idea how much every comment meant.
A couple pictures: We got Daisy, a French Bulldog rescue, shortly after treatments started. We weren’t in the market for a dog, but a good friend runs a small pet rescue and had the perfect one for us. The timing was great. She was a great nap-dog as I slept through the chemo crashes. Here she is drunk-Tweeting. Again.
Here she is sobered up. Truly a blessing. Sweetest dog you can imagine and a great stress relief.
Despite the chemo treatments, Mrs. Eternity Matters and I were able to continue practicing and had a joyful time at a ballroom dance competition. The process was a great distraction and staying active really helped me feel better. One of the many tender mercies from God.