Sunday, June 24, 2012

You Are Not Alone

Before my cancer diagnosis in 2004, I was unaware of anyone ever having bladder cancer.  Since that time, I've discovered that many celebrities have fought bladder cancer, some have even died from it.  The list includes Frank Sinatra (in addition to having Alzheimer's when he died), former Vice President Hubert Humphrey, Ray Bolger (the actor known for being "The Scarecrow" in the movie "Wizard of Oz") and investigative reporter Dominick Dunne.  Most recently, singer Andy Williams announced he had been diagnosed with bladder cancer.  Hence, I now look at these celebrities in a different light.  We are intertwined by a disease.  You could even say we're part of the same family. Hey, I even felt inclined to try to contact Andy Williams via his fan website (haven't heard back from him, however).   Yet, if I do ever hear from him, even though our careers and paychecks are much different, we do have something to talk about.  Based on my experience, he may even benefit from conversing with me.

Of course, bladder cancer does not affect just celebrities.  The American Cancer Society states that 73,000 Americans are diagnosed with bladder cancer annually and it causes 15,000 deaths.  So, bladder cancer is out there, although it may not get as much publicity as other cancers.

The Bible offers comfort to those who are going through similar situations.  I Peter 5:9 says that we know that "...the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world" (NASB).  Although this verse applies to temptations and attacks from the devil, I believe this verse also applies to anyone going through major suffering or trials.  Think about it!  There are countless numbers of people worldwide going through similar trials and emerging victoriously.  There is hope in numbers.  If others can overcome a certain malady, then so can I. 

Consequently, when struck by unfathomable sorrow or suffering, it's nice to know that I am not alone. 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Looking Beyond The Present

It was such a simple little drawing.  After I was informed in March 2006 that I would undergo twelve chemotherapy treatments, I made a little graph shaped like a thermometer with twelve sections.  I put in on the bulletin board in front of my desk at work.  Each week when I returned to work after chemo, I would fill in a section with a red or pink marker.  It was a visible reminder of my progress with chemotherapy.  What a joy when the graph was completely filled in on June 15, 2006. 

In looking back, I guess the graph was a way of me looking beyond the present circumstances.  In spite of the extreme nausea, profound fatigue and multiple hospitalizations with chemo, the graph showed me I was making progress.  There was an end in sight.  All I had to do was continue filling in sections from week to week.

The Bible states that Jesus also looked beyond His circumstances.  Hebrews 12:2 says that Jesus "for the joy set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame and has sat down at the right hand of God" (NASB).  Come to think of it, even the most severe of circumstances may be endured if one knows there is a reward at the end.  It could be a paycheck for a job well done, a trophy for demonstrating the highest character or simply a good night's rest for tackling the day's challenges in heroic fashion.

This type of thinking is displayed in a commercial, I believe it's for a sports drink, where it shows a football player running up and down the steps of a stadium.  He is sweating profusely and panting heavily.  He is all alone....laboring.  Yet, his thoughts are, "Touchdowns aren't given away....they're paid for."  He knows his hard work will one day end up with him in the endzone, scoring for his team in front of numerous screaming fans.  His efforts will all be worth it one day.

Going through cancer, and especially chemotherapy, is painful.  Yet, having the ability to look beyond the present can turn even the worst of cancer treatment into a "momentary, light affliction...producing an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison" (II Corinthians 4:17).