The Medical Roller Coaster Goes Off the Tracks

Wisdom: “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”

I didn’t have an apple this morning, so the doctors were able to corner me.

I never liked rollercoaster rides, even as a kid. I didn’t find the sudden and rapid descent to be a thrill, but always found it terrifying – a fear of falling far outweighed and overwhelmed any experience which others seemed to enjoy and even crave.  I was quite glad when my own kids were tall enough and brave enough to go on thrill rides without me.  I had vertigo just thinking about them being on the rides.

I still remember a comic book I read as a kid, “I Dream of Doom.”  It was about a nightmarish rollercoaster ride to hell.  Pretty much what I thought about rollercoaster rides in general.

Dream doom

The last couple of months have been a medical roller coaster, and a new and unexpected drop occurred today.

I was told that the Stage 3 lung cancer diagnosis I received the week of my lobectomy is in fact correct which reverses what I was told a week ago that I am only Stage 2. The reason for the confusion, so I was told, is a mislabeling of some of the lymph nodes that were removed.   The surgeon had read the entire pathology report and got the correct diagnosis as to the extent of the cancer’s spread. He rightfully diagnosed my condition as Stage 3.   The oncologist had only read the pathologist’s summary and got the mistaken notion that the cancer had not spread as far as the surgeon thought. He therefore concluded I had Stage 2 cancer, which was incorrect.

The surgeon, the oncologist and pathologist have now had a consultation and all agree that I did test positive for cancer of the lymph nodes which means I have Stage 3A lung cancer. They all agree on that.

The oncologist says at the moment this diagnosis of having Stage 3A lung cancer does not change the treatment plan he has proposed.   The doctors agree that the other scans and tests completed recently found no evidence of active cancer in my body at the moment, and so consider the cancer to be in remission.

So another rapid descent on the medical rollercoaster to knock the wind right out of me.

The surgeon still feels I should take a positive attitude and should fight this as much as I can. He says my body has been fighting this for more than 5 years. He said the body curtailed the tumor and kept it small. He said despite the cancer spreading extensively into the lymph nodes, it has not successfully established itself in another organ. He thinks my immune system is and has been fighting hard and I should do what I can to help that process.

But, even with his encouraging thoughts, this was another unexpected twist in the rollercoaster ride I wished I had never taken.  But I’m on this one for the duration as there is no way off until the ride is over.

13 thoughts on “The Medical Roller Coaster Goes Off the Tracks

  1. For what it is worth Fr. Ted…we will climb on the roller coaster with you and be there for the ride as much as we can. You are in our thoughts and prayers. As the father of the demon-possessed boy said to Jesus, “I believe, help me in my unbelief.” We are praying for healing for we know that our God heals through our faith and the faith of our friends.

  2. daysea

    What David said, we are here for the ride with you, Father. I was never very fond of roller coasters either. I liked the fast low hilly ones with the twists and turns, it kind of felt like I had been beat up after I got off, don’t know why I liked that but I did, but the really high ones with the big drops, not so much.

    1. I agree.

      When I was first diagnosed with cancer years ago, a good friend brought me holy oil and water from the church in Greece where his relics lie. A day or two later, I realized she had brought them to me on his feast day. She hadn’t realized it was his feast day when she came to my house. I have made it a point to remember him on his day yearly.

      It’s his feast day on the Old Calendar today, isn’t it? (May 27/June 10. Do I have this right?)

  3. Susie Ford

    The ride it a long way until it’s over my dear friend in Christ! It is never over until HE SAYS it is over….Praying daily for your strength and healing!!!!!

  4. cindy

    I am a flying swing kind of girl. Wind in my hair, ascending, spinning, and floating right back to the spot where I began my slight adrenalin rush.. No fear of the unknown. Why won’t life cooperate? It just stinks down here.

  5. I’ve been riding in my own car on this Roller Coaster. May I get in the 2nd row of yours? I never have liked looking out the windows of a tall building or down from the edge of a cliff. They say there is safety in numbers, you know.

  6. Darrell

    Jessica Precop interviewed “Archimandrite Roman [Braga] of the Monastery of the Holy Dormition here fell asleep in the Lord shortly before midnight on the evening of Tuesday, April 28, 2015.”

    She asked Archimandrite Roman this question: Why is suffering important as a Christian?

    Archimandrite Roman Response:
    Suffering is good, not only for Christians, but for everyone, because if I do not suffer, I do not understand anything. Suffering is a good experience. And in the Scriptures it says that suffering is a sign that God loves me. In the Epistle to the Hebrews, chapter 13, Saint Paul says that if I do not suffer, I am not children of God. What father does not chastise His children? He punishes His children because He loves them. If I do not suffer, I am not the sons of God. After I experience suffering, I understand more—and better—things in this world, much deeper than those who do not experience any suffering. So suffering matures me in my spiritual life. I should not avoid suffering, but I should not look for it. God takes care of that. There is a lot of suffering in the world. So many families have children in the hospital—my doctor has an eleven-year-old daughter with bone cancer. What suffering is felt by that family whose daughter may be dying. We ask ourselves why?

    God allows the world to have beggars and crippled people, and all this is because we otherwise would not be able to be charitable.I have to exercise my love because love is not just a word, but it is something that I must do. And I do things for those who need them. So that is why there are orphaned children and crippled people and so many other sufferings which enable me to exercise my love for my neighbor, because Jesus teaches me to love God with my whole heart and whole mind, but to love my neighbor as I love myself. But if my neighbor does not need my love, what is love? Just a handshake? That is not love. Hugging another person? That is nothing. Go and take a crippled person on the street and give him a hug and I ask him what I can do for him? That is love. Do not live for yourself. I Live for others and always to deny myself. Forget myself and remember that others exist. That is the Christian life. Do not say, “what about me, and myself, and I?” Who am I? I am nobody. I try not to pay too much attention to myself. But when I ask, “can I do something for you, maybe you need me,” then I embrace meaningful Christian love. So suffering in this world is permitted by God so that other Christians might concentrate their love on those who suffer and do something for them, sacrificing themselves for others. In our own life, suffering is permitted, so I understand why Jesus was crucified.

    I am able to forgive. I pray for the guards who tortured us in prison. I am not against them because I understand that they were forced to do that. And I forgive only when I suffer. When I do not suffer, I do not want to forgive, and then I am condemned. There was a movie maker who came and made a movie with me and Father Calciu. The interviewer said, “how can you forgive them?” Well, why not?! They are created in the image of God. I know that in that kind of regime they were forced to kill us, to torture us, to do what they were told to do, otherwise their families would not have bread to eat. I am able to forgive when I suffer. When I do not suffer I am not able to forgive. You say, “no, no, no, I should not do such and such a thing, and if I do, I should be punished because I did it.” So suffering is very important in Christian life.

    Father Ted God presence is in you

  7. Andrea

    Ah, Fr. Ted! How frustrating to be whipped every which way. :( I’m sorry. I am glad to hear that there is no evidence of it spreading to any new organs- whatever stage they label it, this is good news. You are continually in our prayers!!

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