Monday, October 22, 2012

The Joy of Cancer

I had sort of a big anniversary this past week. October 16, 2012 marks the 1-year anniversary since my prostate cancer surgery. As I look back over the past 18 months, that period of time that I've known that I had cancer, I can't help but feel exceedingly blessed. At church yesterday we were talking about the Gifts of God, joy in particular. The whole experience ran through my mind and the feeling of joy that I felt throughout the pre-surgery event played out in my mind. I knew I wouldn't be able to get it out of my mind unless I shared it here. 

I didn't talk about the anniversary to anyone, almost letting it pass without me realizing it. Tuesday was just another day. I've never really focused on the cancer. Even when I first 'knew' I had a problem, I only focused on using the situation to be a better disciple. Not because I'm an awesome person, but because that's what God instructed me to do. 

One day in early 2011, God told me I had cancer, but that I would be okay. It was really that simple. I was working in my home office and I had a voice in my head, plain as day. The part that I found remarkable, was the feeling of peace that overcame me. No fear, no flashes of life passing before you eyes, just peace. It was weird and awesome at the same time. I immediately prayed for courage. In my own selfish way, I didn't want to walk around in fear every day. As I prayed about my situation, it became clear to me that God would use this experience to help me spread His Good News. I've never hidden the fact that I'm a Christian, but I've never worn it on my sleeve either. I've never been very comfortable talking about my faith. I'm not much of a Bible reader, I can't quote scriptures. I've never spent any time in Bible study as an adult and frankly I'm not very knowledgeable of the actual scriptures. What I do know is that God is very much alive, and I see his Hand in my life frequently. 

But back to the joy. 

I didn't talk about my cancer to anyone until it was confirmed with tests and pricks and more tests. I knew my wife would be afraid. She didn't have the underlying peace that I had. The spouse is always in the worst position. You can't do anything about but fret.

As I started to tell my friends and ask for their prayers, a funny thing happened. People I barely knew and some I didn't know at all, started sending me well wishes and telling me that their family or Sunday school class or bible study group was praying for me. My mom and dad would relay greetings from people they knew telling of prayers of support. One of my dear friends hooked me up with one of her friends who was in pharma sales for cancer products so we could talk about treatments and so forth. It turns out that we had a bible study instead and he quoted me all the right scriptures and he prayed over me in a way nobody ever had. We never discussed drugs or treatments. It never came up. He 'knew' that's not what I needed. Another friend and mentor sat down with me on the steps of the choir room at church and just talked to me in way that I knew was coming straight from God. Another friend even bought me soothing and comforting music on iTunes to listen to while I recovered. Of course, all my friends were very supportive, but in particular, it was the well withes from people I didn't know that really struck me.

How do you know God is working in your life? One way is when people you don't know tell you that they love you and are praying for you. Wow! The joy that brings could never come from man. For the past year or so, I've been walking around in peace with a joyful spirit. And, I think as a consequence of my joyful spirit, I've been blessed with several new opportunities that have been extremely fruitful. My business is strong, I have an awesome wife, and I've never had a better relationship with God. My life is good. I've been blessed.

So, one year after my surgery, I'm still fighting off some straggler cells trying to take root in me. I've been on medicine that is supposed to keep the prostate cells from absorbing testosterone, on which the cancer feeds. I feel no less certain today than I was 18 months ago that God was using this experience to train me to be a better disciple. And with that I'll share what, through this experience, has become my personal motto:

Hebrews 12:1  Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings to closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.

Thanks to everyone who has lifted me up and prayed for me this past year or so. The power of your prayer and love is strong. I am forever grateful.

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