Traveling with Cancer

As I compose this post, I’m in the hospital recovering from the lung resection surgery.   The malignant tumor and the lower right lobe of my lung were successfully removed.  Recovery from this surgery is, as I was amply warned before surgery, painful.  Pain meds help with the coping and managing of my  health care issues.  They also challenge my writing and typing skills.

While the May 19th operation, the lobectomy, was successful, the surgery also discovered that the cancer has already spread to my lymph nodes.  All 8 lymph nodes sent to pathology turned out to be cancerous.  The removal of the cancerous lobe has not gotten the cancer out of my body.  The cancer had progressed faster than was apparent from the various techno-scans done prior to surgery.  So the fight with cancer moves to a new level, one the cancer has chosen.

I went into surgery thinking I had Stage 1 cancer, but came out of surgery knowing that I already have Stage 3 lung cancer.  I will soon be going to an oncologist to discuss further treatment.  The prayers of so many friends and strangers helped me get through the surgery and have put me on the road to recovery from that surgery.

Despite the surgery successfully removing the malignant tumor, the larger goal of getting the cancer out of the body was not achieved.  Somehow the medical technology was not able to fully diagnose the extent of the problem.

None of this changes the basic fact: We all are always in God’s hands.  Sometimes he takes us places we don’t wish to go (John 21:18).  However, God always loves us and beckons us to join Him at the wedding feast of His Son, Jesus Christ.  Over the next months I will write from time to time about this sojourn and the new traveling companion who will be with me every step of the journey.  Life is a road with unexpected twists and unanticipated turns which do not allow you to see what is ahead.  We are to traverse on it anyway.  And for Christians, we are to do it with joy.

Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

The First Ecumenical Council

“Today, we are more likely to think of Christ only in divine terms: we know that he is God; what we have difficulty with is explaining how he is human as we are. Again, God and human beings are held apart; communion and fellowship have not been restored. But our confession, following the Fathers of Nicaea, is that through what he has done as a human being, we see the transcendent power of God at work. Most importantly, as we have been singing for many weeks now, it is by his death – an all-too-human act – that he destroys death, for he died willingly as a spotless self-offering for our sakes. It is not that because he is God he conquered death automatically, but that in the way he died a human death he shows himself to be God. He does this by freely giving himself to death, so showing that he is stronger than death, that death could not hold him, with the result that the tomb is empty; and so, by his elevation on the Cross, he has ascended into heaven, from where we await the descent of the Holy Spirit and the coming again of our Lord.”  (John Behr, The Cross Stands While the World Turns: Homilies for the Cycles of the Year, pp 94-95)