Tuesday, May 29, 2012

What Cancer Cannot Do

The other day, on an off day from work, I jogged a couple of miles in my neighborhood.  I used to run a lot more, but over the years I've been limited in my amount of running by my long working hours.  However, as I ran around the corner from my house, I was met by what used to be a frightening site, that is, a barking dog named Deke.  As a matter of fact, I can usually count on Deke barking at me if I am near his property.  It can be pretty scary if you aren't familiar with Deke's situation.  Deke is a good sized animal, about the size of a Black Labrador, although he appears to be a mixed breed.  When Deke approaches with his ferocious bark, it is only natural to be afraid, very, very afraid.

Yet, interesting thing about Deke.  All he can do is bark at me.  Apparently, his yard has a hidden wire under the grass where he will only go so far.  I've never seen him leave his yard.  As long as I run on the street, I know Deke will never hurt me.  He will come within a few feet of me, barking, carrying on, but yet, I never really get rattled by Deke.  I know his power (with the help of modern dog control technology) is limited.

Reminds me in a sense about cancer.  Just the word "cancer" is scary.  The treatments are tumultuous.  The side effects debilitating.  I once received a card from a sweet lady at church years ago who was battling lung cancer and she quoted this poem.  I in turn felt compelled to put it on my refrigerator.  Furthermore, this poem is now seen on T-shirts, coffee mugs and bracelets.  The author is unknown, but the verses describe  the limitations of cancer.  It is entitled, "What Cancer Cannot Do".  Consider:

Cancer is so limited...
It cannot cripple love.
It cannot shatter hope.
It cannot corrode faith.
It cannot eat away peace.
It cannot destroy confidence.
It cannot kill friendship.
It cannot shut out memories.
It cannot silence courage.
It cannot reduce eternal life.
It cannot quench the Spirit.   

Mind you, cancer can  kill, maim and destroy.  Yet, just like my buddy Deke who meets me when I'm running, cancer's bark is sometimes worse than its bite.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Coping Versus Moping

I had a radio interview the other day regarding my cancer survival and book.  I always enjoy getting questions because it seems to refine my message.  In other words, it helps me try to delineate what I truly believe.

For example, the interviewer asked me if some people use cancer as a means to draw attention to themselves.  Another way of describing this phenomenon is a "pity party".  Hey, look at me.  I have cancer.  Feel sorry for me.  Wait on me.  I believe there is an old medical term that lists this as "la belle indifference".  A person actually enjoys being sick because of the attention it garners.

I hope this is not my attitude at all.  On one hand, I do have to make an honest appraisal of my physical abilities (or lack of them) since I went through chemotherapy.  I do have some infirmities, e.g. loss of hearing, which I've mentioned before.  In describing the hearing loss, I don't want to make people feel sorry for me.  I just want to know what my life has become.  I can't hear sometimes.  Phone conversations are difficult.  Understanding dialogue on TV shows is difficult.  So, am I trying to make others feel sorry for me by mentioning these things?  No, not at all.  I just want them to realize there is a reason that sometimes I misunderstand conversations.  Dialogues with others are not being ignored.....I just can't completely comprehend what is being said.

Furthermore, even though cancer has damaged me, I don't want to be pitied.  Cancer has opened up doors I never could have imagined.  I've gained new insight into life. As a matter of fact, I've been entrusted with new knowledge, new insights, new victories.  In many ways, I'm a new person.  Life before cancer was so routine and so uneventful.  Now, because of this dreaded disease, life, in a  most peculiar way, has become more glorious.  Oh, cancer, where is thy sting?

I talk more about my cancer victory in my book, "A Place I Didn't Want To Go:  My Victory Over Cancer", which can be purchased at Amazon.com.  You can access it online at:

Monday, May 14, 2012

Being Sifted

In Luke 22:31, Jesus said, "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat."  As you may recall, Jesus made this statement in anticipation of Peter denying Him three times as our Lord's arrest and crucifixion were imminent. 

This verse became more clear to me recently as my wife and I were working out in the backyard. This year my wife decided to plant a vegetable garden in an open area in the yard, something which she has done on occasion.  Unfortunately, the spot she chose for the garden had a very hard soil.  Hence, preparing the soil would take much effort with a simple hoe and rake.  To say the least, it was a task we was dreading.

In anticipation of this project, although money in our household is very tight, I felt the need to purchase a simple tiller to loosen the soil.  What a difference the tiller made!  Instead of taking hours to prepare the soil, the tiller loosened the ground within a few minutes. I marveled as the blades churned through the soil with relative ease.  You could say the tiller was "sifting" the soil.

Seeing the tiller brought Luke 22:31 to mind.  It also reminded me of what I had been through with cancer, especially with chemotherapy.  Multiple hospitalizations and multiple blood transfusions.  Battles with depression.  Extreme nausea.  Profound fatigue.  Chemotherapy carried me to rock bottom, so to speak, then even lower than that!  I was truly sifted all right. 

Yet, now that my soil has been prepared, I pray that good crops will appear in my life.  I don't wish sifting upon anyone.  However,  I rejoice in the crops which may be forthcoming.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Who's in Charge??

The other day before I visited my ENT doctor, I prayed something like, "Dear God, please restore my hearing."  This is related to the fact I suffered permanent hearing loss from chemo treatments in 2006. I was hoping to hear news about a revolutionary new surgery which would relinquish me of the burden of wearing hearing aids at times.  Then, it dawned on me how I had misplaced my request to my Heavenly Father.  It was not "my" hearing.  I didn't create it.  I really had no part in its function from the beginning.  As a matter of fact, I couldn't take any credit for my hearing, vision, sense of smell, sense of taste or any of the functions of my body.  These wonderful creations were all loaned to me by a loving God who created everything.

The Bible describes it in this way.  "For Thou didst form my inward parts; Thou didst weave me in my mother's womb" (Psalms 139:13).  It wasn't evolution, it wasn't chance.  My body was created by God, no doubt about it.  In addition, in a peculiar way, God even takes credit for what we call "handicaps".  For example, in Exodus 4:11 God says, "Who has made man's mouth?  Or who makes him dumb or deaf, or seeing or blind?  Is it not I, the Lord?"  Even though the hearing loss with chemotherapy caught me by surprise, it was somehow part of God's plan for me.

So, as I struggle on a daily basis trying to understand conversations, trying to follow dialogue on television with closed captioning, etc.,  I have to continue to entrust my body to God's loving care to accomplish His purposes in me.  For "every one who is called by My name....I have created for My glory..." (Isaiah 43:7).  If He chooses to restore my hearing, I'll praise Him.  If He doesn't restore my hearing, although I may not understand it, I will yet praise Him.  My infirmities will ultimately lead to God's glory. 

Hence, who's in charge?  Definitely not me, and seeing how I usually mess up most things in my life, that's probably a good thing.