I have been encouraged by many of you to write a blog to keep everyone updated on my situation and to share my thoughts along this journey. My intention is to write a few times each week or as I have new information and something relevant to share. Please feel free to share your thoughts back on the blog so that I and others can benefit from them.
Thanks to all of you for your wonderful out-pouring of support and prayer! You have been a blessing to me, Susan and my family. You have been a substantial source of strength and encouragement as we have faced this current challenge. Your emails, cards, calls and demonstrations of love have shown us how blessed of God we are to have such a family and friends!
As most of you know, 3.5 weeks ago I went to the ER for abdominal pain, thinking it was an ulcer. I found out it was pancreatitis, leading to an ultrasound of my pancreas. The doctors found a mass in the head of my pancreas and diagnosed it as pancreatic cancer. Through a variety of tests, procedures, and biopsies, they subsequently determined that it is not pancreatic cancer. Thanks be to God!
During those procedures, they found another mass in my chest, behind my sternum (anterior mediastinum), and have completed a surgical biopsy of that tissue last Friday. While we have no results from that larger biopsy, we should know more within the next few days. The current assumption based on the needle biopsies of the pancreas and chest is that I have some type of lymphoma.
I will be undergoing more tests (PET/CT, bone marrow aspiration) tomorrow to help determine whether the growth is in parts of my body other than the chest and pancreas. I will then be meeting with an oncologist/hematologist next week to review all of the data from these tests to determine a treatment plan.
Although this has been a very long and tough three weeks, I want to publicly thank the team of expert doctors and staff at the IU Medical Center. What a blessing to have such a resource here in our city of Indianapolis. Your prayers have been answered in so many ways, including my not having pancreatic cancer. Please keep praying for complete healing - even a God-glorifying miracle - from whatever the doctors determine is the cause!
Living under a "death sentence" for over two weeks has had quite an effect on me. God's grip on my life has become much more real to me as I have grappled with this trial. While I will avoid pancreatic surgery/cancer, the Lord has done surgery of another kind on my heart and soul. I have been reminded more than once of a favorite section of T.S. Eliot's poem, The Four Quartets, East Coker, part IV:
The Wounded Surgeon plies the steel
That questions the distempered part;
Beneath the bleeding hands we feel
The sharp compassion of the healer's art
Resolving the enigma of the fever chart.
Our only health is the disease
If we obey the dying nurse
Whose constant care is not to please
But to remind of our, and Adam's curse,
And that, to be restored, our sickness must grow worse.
Jesus Christ (our "Wounded Surgeon") has been refining me by showing me ways he wants me to change for his glory and his kingdom. He is asking me to more deeply rely on Him, to trust him with my life and future, and to look to him for grace to live each day. He is also asking me to die to sin and myself ("our, and Adam's curse"), and live for Him and for others in his resurrection power. In moments like these, you see how powerless the things of this world are to truly save us. Unfortunately, money, status, position, power, connections, all masquerade as having a form of power, but ultimately they come up short when dealing with matters of life, death and the disposition of our souls.
The apostle Paul, summed up my situation perfectly in II Corinthians 1:8b-11:
"For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many."
While it has been difficult, God is using this trial for his glory. We are praying that as God calls you to pray with and for us, he himself will meet you in unique ways and bless your life.
In Christ alone,