Monday, April 23, 2012

Joy of Renewal

Well, I finally had to trade it in around 2010:  my 1992 Mercury Villager Van.  After driving it for years and years, it was getting harder and harder to find replacement parts.  As a matter of fact, it became somewhat comical with some of the issues I faced with the van in its last few months in my possession.  It would be hard to mention exactly everything that went wrong  but I'll try.

The motor continued to run well for the most part, but it was peripheral issues that took its toll.  For example, the door locks on the car broke so that I couldn't lock my car.  The passenger's side window went out.  The radio only worked part of the time.  The lock on the glove compartment box broke so I had to prevent the glove compartment from flying opening while I was motoring by securing it with duct tape.  The sun visor on the driver's side broke so I had to cover my eyes whenever I drove in open sunlight.  Sometimes the hatch on the back took several tries to get it closed.   The wiring on my tail lights became frazzled so I sometimes only had one operating tail light.  I guess the issue that finally made me give it up was the air conditioning compressor.  It broke down and my repair guy had difficulty finding a replacement.  He did find an air conditioning compressor that had never been used by looking for it on the internet but it failed after a few months.  I thought, "That does it!!!  I just can't get through another Alabama summer without air conditioning."  So, finally, in October 2010, I traded in my van with 262, 000 miles on the odometer and purchased a used 2006 Kia Optima.

What a difference it makes to drive a newer car (although I purchased it used).  The air conditioner works.  The radio works (it even has a CD player...the van had a cassette player).  I can lock the doors with the push of a button on my key ring.  There is better gas mileage.  Better comfort.  Better controls.  Everything is better, better, better.  To me, this car is heaven-sent.  When I purchased it, it appeared to be the perfect car for me and my bank account.  Furthermore, I actually have developed quite a fondness for my Kia, my affection most likely based on my woeful interactions with the van in its latter debilitating years.

Kind of reminds me of the joy that occurs when coming through a trial.  In James 1:2 it says, "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials."  Although it would be hard to describe my cancer battle as a joyful experience , there is now a certain sense of happiness, a peace within for surviving what I did with the major surgery and chemotherapy.  Psalms 30:5 says, "...weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning."  This is certainly true.  Cancer, especially chemotherapy, was dark and painful.  Now, I can view my present situation with joy.  Consequently, I can look back and say how, with God's help, "I made it!" or "I overcame it".  It tried to destroy me but I ultimately am the victor.  It's a great feeling. 

Friday, April 13, 2012

Profit for Loss

It's interesting how the Bible places emphasis on losing things.  For example, Jesus said in John 12:24, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit."  Also, in Luke 9:24, Jesus said, "For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it."  Hence, the Bible describes the value of losing your life and getting something great in return, that is, you truly discover life.  Not only life, but life in abundance.

Reminds me of the old saying which states, "If you love something, set it free.  If it comes back, it's yours.  If it doesn't, it never was."  I was contemplating this idea of profit for loss recently while thinking of my cancer journey.  Because of cancer, I lost so many things.  You could say they were forcibly removed from me.  For example, I lost my natural born bladder and now have to depend upon an artificial bladder which was created from my small intestine.  As a result, I have to catheterize myself up to three times daily to make sure my artificial bladder is empty and avoid urinary tract infections.  I also lost part of my hearing due to chemotherapy.  This has been extremely distressing, as I struggle to understand daily conversations with my family and co-workers.  Of course, losing part of the sensation in my feet has been bothersome.  Consequently, when I try to jog or walk up steps, I hit the pavement or stairs abruptly since I can't feel the majority of sensation in my feet.  I am also more concerned about falling with the altered sensation in my lower extremities.

What have I gained as a result of my physical losses?  First of all, it has allowed me to test the waters as an author, perhaps something I never would have done before cancer.  My manuscript, "Bladder Cancer: Revealing News About A Hidden Threat" which was published in the April edition of Nursing2006 was an offshoot of what I had learned after having major cancer surgery.  Later on, my book, "A Place I Didn't Want To Go: My Victory Over Cancer", came to be written after I had suffered the rigors of chemotherapy.  Second, my losses have given me a platform as a speaker.  Due to cancer, I have spoken at several nursing and nurse practitioner conferences.  I'm continuing to pray for more opportunities to speak in the future.  Finally, I have gained new insights into the ways of God.  His ways are mysterious, but, believe it or not, He actually can use pain for His glory.  Even though cancer may be a life-altering diagnosis, it may eventually be a blessing.  Ultimately, as author John Piper states in his publication, "Don't Waste Your Cancer", cancer can actually be a gift and not a curse.  Having been gifted with cancer, I'm confident I'll be reaping many benefits in the years to come. 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Value Of A Healthy Body

Driving down a highway this morning in my old neighborhood, I noticed an interesting site.  What used to be a viable shopping district has turned into an area of multiple pawn shops and "get cash quick" type stores, utilizing your car title as a security deposit.  Some of these stores were even next door to each other, thus accentuating the need in this area.  It reminded me how people will do practically anything to get money, for example, sometimes trading in possessions, sometimes doing illegal actions, whatever, to survive financially.  I know I once had a garage sale to try to procure a few bucks, but it didn't really amount to much.

So, as anyone can see, money is oh so important in this life.  As a result, people endure the hardships of long working hours and lifetimes of labor in order to get money to purchase houses, cars, comforts and most importantly, food.  In relation to this, I too have been a part of the work force for many, many years.  Yet, I still have roughly another fourteen years or so of the daily rigors of employment before I can retire.  Don't get me wrong.  There are certainly joys in my occupation, but, on the other hand, there is a reason people call employment, "work".  Sometimes it is not fun, but strenuous mental and physical labor.

However,  there are some things that are more important than money.  For example, I've heard the expression, "If you have your health, you have everything".  So true.  As a matter of fact, some people would be willing to pay or do anything in order to get their health back. 

So, if you are healthy, be grateful.  A healthy body is more valuable than a healthy bank account or personal possessions.  You see, once your health fades, there is nothing that compares with the enormity of the loss.  Even though I've been cured of cancer, I still grieve  over the irreparable damage it has inflicted upon me.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Seven Warning Signs of Cancer (C.A.U.T.I.O.N.)

I had a car flash its headlights at me this morning on a road close to my house.  Apparently, this is a sign (don't know how or when it started) that there is a police car ahead watching for speeders.  Sure enough, as I traveled down the road, a police car was hiding along the side of the road in a wooded area.  I guess I should be thankful for the car that flashed its headlights at me, although it probably didn't matter.  I never speed and have never gotten a speeding ticket.  So the driver's warning to me really didn't make any impact.  It was essentially a wasted effort.

However, some warnings can have a huge impact.  Consider that one out of two men and one out of three women will get cancer in their lifetimes in the United States.  As a result, in perhaps my most important blog thus far, I must share the seven warning signs of cancer as listed by the American Cancer Society.  The seven warning signs can be described by the acronym CAUTION.  They are:

Change in bowel or bladder habits
A sore that will not heal
Unusual discharge or bleeding
Thickening or lump in the breast, testicles or elsewhere
Indigestion or difficulty swallowing
Obvious change in a wart or mole
Nagging cough or hoarseness

A person who experiences any of these signs or symptoms  should visit a healthcare provider.  Although, these signs may be caused by other entities, it is safest to make sure cancer is not the culprit. 

The flashing headlights I saw this morning may have saved someone the cost of a speeding ticket.  These warning signs of cancer, more importantly, may save someone's life.

I mention how I missed one of these warning signs, i.e. unusual discharge or bleeding, in my first book, "A Place I Didn't Want To Go:  My Victory Over Cancer".  I describe the heartache of going through cancer treatment but yet, my victory through God's grace.  Check it out on Amazon at:

I also talk about the positive aspects of illness in my second book, "Glorified Sickness: Honoring God Through Illness", which became available in February 2014.  It can be accessed at:

Finally, I am available to speak to your church or civic group about my cancer survival story or even the benefits of sickness.  Feel free to contact me via this blog.