Happy St. Patrick’s Day! It will be happy for me, as I face my first appointment at MD Anderson! I love it that it’s on St. Patrick’s Day because Patrick was a model missionary and great example of how we can share Christ in our culture. You can read more about it, HERE– but for now, here’s a great quote:
“Daily I expect to be murdered or betrayed or reduced to slavery if the occasion arises. But I fear nothing, because of the promises of heaven.”
Facts and Figures update:
We travel down to MD Anderson in Houston for my first appointment on March 17th. Friends who have worked there or have patients there tell me: They’ll set up my diagnostic, images and other appropriate intake metrics. Then the fun begins.
My biopsy report. My brother-in-law, Dr. Alan Fleming is an oncologist and Chief Resident of Anatomic Pathology with the University of Kansas Medical Center. So, after I got my copy of the report that The Cleveland Clinic sent back, he gave me the low-down. I know I already have non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL). But my “sub-type” is diffuse large B-Cell lymphoma or DLBCL. This means it’s a fast-grower. How fast? Those amazing medical scientists have examined genetic markers and proteins and discovered that the proliferation or growth speed can be measured in percentages. “We like to see them at 20%. Yours is at 80%.” So – finally – I’m an overachiever! :( Dr. Alan says: “I’m not them, but I know what we’d do – we’d turn up the heat and beat this down.” So, fantastic – let’s get it on! (By the way, NHL is a sneaky little son of a gun. Sometimes the swollen nodes aren't noticeable - I only knew about it because of the tumor on my tongue. Unexplained weight loss, fatigue, night sweats, chills ... they are easily set aside as something else. An X-Ray or CT scan will spot something, but a biopsy is necessary. If your gut tells you something is off - listen!)
What I’ve learned …
This has been a doozy of a past couple of weeks, hasn’t it? Covid-19 has hit the globe with a ferocity heretofore not seen in a long time! The markets have been wrecked, some of our jobs are in-peril or at least forced to slow down, people are hoarding food and supplies – even toilet paper (?!). People are at the polar spectrums of we’re not taking things seriously enough to we’re taking things too seriously. There’s a lot of fear.
I have felt the cold hand of fear on my shoulder, too. For the first time in my life, it’s not an accident that could threaten my health, it’s an unseen enemy within me. True, it has a very successful treatment outcome, but there’s no guarantee. A lot of tests have to be performed, scans made, samples harvested, analyzed and assessed … and that’s just to get my “staging” decided. My battle hasn’t even begun and not one drop of chemo, not one ray of radiation … I feel overwhelmed.
Financially, we were saving up for a trip to Europe, did you know that? I mean, probably not a good time anyway … but I didn’t want to use it trying to save my life.
I get confused … why do I have to fight this? I don’t have time for this! I need to be strong and ready for others! Why do others have to have their time delayed or needs set aside to accommodate me? I feel so selfish. There’s so much other need in the world …
When he told you you’re not good enough When he told you you’re not right When he told you you’re not strong enough to put up a good fight When he told you you’re not worthy When he told you you’re not loved When he told you you’re not beautiful That you’ll never be enough
Fear, he is a liar He will take your breath Stop you in your steps Fear he is a liar He will rob your rest steal your happiness Cast your fear in the fire ‘Cause fear – he is a liar! ~ Zach Williams, “Fear is a Liar”
The number one lesson that I’ve learned is that if we’re willing to listen, we’ll hear the voice of God in others as they tell us: you’re going to make this. You’re not a mess – you’re not an inconvenience. Even if that’s what I feel.
I love Grace for this reason.
Today, Kenny, our fantastic worship pastor and his team of outstanding vocalists and instrumentalists, boosted by our incredible tech team, prepared a worship set that touched me deeply – every song! But one, in particular caught my attention, because it’s our fight song, Not Afraid. I don’t know how they got it spun up so quickly, but as Kenny discussed, it’s amazing how a song choice can be so aptly necessary. In the midst of global health crisis, financial crisis – and even my cancer – the one thing we should not do is be afraid.
Psalm 3 is the song David wrote when his own son betrayed him and he was being pursued to his death. He had every reason to feel lost, ashamed, burdened and afraid. What did he write?
Lord, how many are my foes! How many rise up against me! 2 Many are saying of me, “God will not deliver him.”
3 But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high. 4 I call out to the Lord, and he answers me from his holy mountain.
5 I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me. 6 I will not fear though tens of thousands assail me on every side.
Verse 3 is the turning point. He wasn’t making bold claims without substance. They were promises of God. God is our shield and grew reward. He is our glory and the lifter of our head. He is the one who calls out of the dark and gloom, answering us from his mountain. We can rest. We don’t have to fear not one, not two two, not hundreds, not even tens of thousands! Why? Our God is the Lord of Hosts!
I have no idea what will happen by the end of the week. I might get some great news. I might not.
It doesn’t matter because our God is there. Loss of health? We choose to not be afraid. Threat of loss of income? We choose to not be afraid. Breakdown in relationships? Nope – not gonna fear …
You get it? We have to be like David and call out to the one who ALWAYS answers from the Mountain.
Fear? No – he’s a liar. And I will not be afraid.