It’s late now—almost midnight—on my birthday. I’ve heard from sweet loved ones today and had a festive dinner out with close friends; we laughed a lot. Now, the house is dark and quiet; I’m alone with my thoughts, and a little spooked.
I’m not sure I’ll sleep much tonight, not sure I want to. The folks at Moanalua Medical Center in Honolulu finally called today to schedule consultations with both the “otolaryngoligist”—ear, nose, and throat (ENT) surgeon— and the “endocrinologist”—endocrine system specialist. I fly over to the island of Oahu in a couple of days for pre-surgery consultation. Still no date set for the surgery; so, I guess, a little more waiting!
But this news prompted me to do something I almost wish I hadn’t. Tonight, I finally gave in to the temptation to go online and research thyroid cancer. I have been resisting this temptation; not so much because I didn’t want to know about it, but because I realize my proclivity to jump to conclusions about things before I have all the vital and necessary facts. But, I’ve been feeling very confident and upbeat about the whole situation all day. Plus, I’ve been getting a lot of positive encouragement from so many people with good reports about the survival and success of others who have had thyroid cancer and are now doing just great. In fact, at last count, I’ve been told, already, of at least half a dozen people who have had it, and who have come through just fine.
Furthermore, I’ve been listening to people telling me how “curable” thyroid cancer is and how easily they think I’m going to overcome it. While this kind of “encouragement” is great, I think it was leading me to minimize the situation. In fact, I’ve even been feeling somewhat embarrassed about telling others I have cancer, or asking for prayer. Compared to what others have gone through, this whole affair was beginning to seem, well, trivial. So, in light of all that, and feeling pretty confident, I thought I might as well take the plunge and do a little reading about it myself. After all, why should I be left in the dark when so many people all around me seem to know all about it or, at least, think they do?
That confidence just went out the window! Now, I know that every person is different and every cancer is different; and you simply cannot compare yourself to others, or even to tables, charts, and other statistics—especially those posted online. And, I also realize that I am an individual and that what God is doing with me is not what He is doing with anyone else. But, still, just reading about the “possibilities,” especially without knowing just what variety of the cancer I’ve got, or at what stage, kicks the old imagination into high gear.
I didn’t mind reading about those with small malignant nodules, at stage I or II who have a great prognosis. These have a 97% survival rate at five years; and an 89% survival rate at ten years. However, I did not enjoy reading about those with large malignant nodules—such as the one I have—with not as good a prognosis: about a 51% survival rate at 5 years. And I sure wasn’t too encouraged by reading about those with a certain type of thyroid cancer who have only a 7% survival rate at 5 years; and most of whom die within the first year following diagnosis—yikes! All the sudden, I’m really feeling the need for all those prayers, again.
Tonight I also chatted briefly with a brother in Christ whom I love very much, Jeff, whose wife just went through her second surgery for breast cancer and who will commence chemotherapy soon. After the death of their sweet twelve year old daughter, whom we all loved dearly, less than a year ago, it just doesn’t seem fair that they would have to deal with something as stressful and frightening as breast cancer. He said that they loved me and were praying for me. I responded by saying that I was very grateful, but that his sweet wife probably had the rougher road—which may, or may not, be true—and that, no matter what happens, we know the tomb is empty and Who’s sitting on the throne. To which Jeff responded, “Praise God!”
I am humbled. Today I am 55 years old, and I’ve never felt so humbled—by life and its circumstances, by the love shown to me by friends and family, and by the faith I see at work in God’s people. Today, on my birthday, I think the Lord just needed to sober me up a little bit with all this information. He needed me to fall back into His arms and seek the comfort, solace, and strength that only He can provide. He doesn’t want me getting too “giddy” or “head up” about things; but to remain humble, vulnerable, and completely aware of the fact that I live, move, and breathe solely at His good pleasure. So, I’m thankful, I think, for this new information I’ve gleaned from the internet tonight, and for the new knot down deep in the pit of my stomach, because it opens the door to receiving and appreciating the comfort that only our Lord can provide.
And now, the clock has turned past midnight. My birthday has quietly come and gone, as will my life; remembered for just a little while, and then forgotten to all but Him, and to those with whom I will share eternity. To Jeff and his sweet family, and to all who love them and me, I leave these beautiful words tonight from the Apostle Paul:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ. (2 Corinthians 1:3-5, NASB)
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