Cancer. It’s a word that generally elicits a response from people, whether it be shock that a close friend has it, sorrow over a loved one who has died from it, disgust at its refusal to be cured. Yes, the very word “cancer” tends to bring about a response of some kind. Six years ago it brought a definite reaction from me when I heard the doctor say, “Tim, you have cancer.” Those are words a person simply doesn’t want to hear.
If you will allow me to go back in time a little further, it was nearly seven years ago when my best friend shared with me that he had cancer. I was in utter shock and my first thought was, “I can’t lose him.” Then, as the news sank in, I prayed for him. Eventually, I tried to be brave for him and to bring comfort and reassurance to him, thinking as I did that he probably could use some reassurance.
Eventually, he had surgery and recovered quite nicely and has been cancer-free since. Praise God!
It wasn’t but a few months later that I went in for a routine physical. During that examination, the subject of colonoscopies came up. I’m not quite sure why this subject is so fascinating to doctors, but it seems every five years or so they will bring it up in conversation. And I still do not recall agreeing to this procedure, but before I left his office I was sitting across the desk from a nurse who was scheduling it.
I suppose it was a week or so later when I went in for a colonoscopy (all kidding aside, if you haven’t had one and you’re nearing middle age – talk to your doctor, it is one of their favorite topics anyway). And suddenly, there I was listening to a doctor telling me how my colon was normal, I honestly don’t remember a thing. Then some mighty strange words came out of the doctor’s mouth, “I’m referring you to the urologist.”
Huh? Weren’t we worried about number two? What’s number one got to do with this?
Once again I was sitting in front of a nurse being scheduled for a referral appointment. Perhaps I was foggy from the sedative but I still don’t remember the doctor giving me a viable explanation why I should see the urologist. The words, “Just a precaution” may have been spoken, but I can’t be sure. I am quite certain, in hindsight, that my referral was accompanied by some super-secret paperwork patients aren’t ever allowed to see.
So off to the urologist. And subsequently, after a fairly uncomfortable biopsy procedure involving twelve exceedingly large needles, cancer was discovered in my prostate. “Honestly, doctor, I feel fine, how could I have cancer?”
I called my aforementioned best friend and told him the news. “HT,” I said in jest, “it was so much easier to be brave when it was you.” And after many questions – HT had already done all the research after all – I decided to consult with the surgeon who performed his surgery. And so the surgery was scheduled. I had a couple weeks to wait. Time for some contemplation. I remember going for a long drive in the country, all by myself, and talking to God. I hadn’t exactly been pursuing my Christian walk with all the gusto I should have been, but now I was in crisis and it was to God I turned.
Sometime during my long drive, I put in my Todd Agnew CD and these were the words Todd sang:
I’ve been surrounding myself with things I’m finding unable to fill me, unable to still my trembling soul
But You’re always there when I turn around, even though I’ve been running for so long
You’re always there when I cry out, even when I’ve been silent for so long
You’re always there when I need You….I need You
And I cried. And cried. And cried some more. I didn’t cry because I was scared. I cried because He was there. Like He always is, whether I have been pursuing Him as I should or not. And suddenly I knew it was going to be alright. I had the absolute, unconditional love of the Creator, and the assurance of forgiveness through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. No matter what the future held, I was going to be alright.
And now, six years later, I’m here. Cancer-free. Not everyone who hears those fateful words, “You have cancer” will have such a successful outcome in the medical sense. But we all can have the blessed assurance of God’s forgiveness and the promise of our eternal security. This life we live is not the end and our physical death is not final.
O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting? (1Corinthians 15:55)
So I invite you, right now, to know that God is always there for you and, if you haven’t already, to secure your eternal future. It’s really easy – just get honest with God and talk to Him. He’s always there, and He always listens.
God bless you!
Next time, I’ll tell you what happened two weeks after my surgery. Stay tuned.