I am generally a morning person. It is Saturday. It is 5am. And I feel terrific!
A few weeks ago, when I was wrestling with life-in-limbo – the pull between wrapping things up and getting on with life – I asked God to give me a dream that would help me understand what direction things are headed for me. If I am dying, I wanted to dream about heaven and where I am headed. If I am being healed, I wanted a dream about life in the future and what that may look like.
I’m sitting on my front porch in the early evening after a summer rain. The ceiling fan keeping the mosquitos off. It’s just me and my dog…and the hummingbirds.
I put up a couple of feeders this year, and we now have several hummers who come scores of times each day. I could watch these little birds for hours. I don’t know why I find them so fascinating, but I do. They are nervous little guys, almost as much bug as bird, twitchy, darting here and there.
An old friend who lives in east Tennessee came to see me. We had a great time catching up over lunch, and then driving around our old neighborhoods. It has been 45 years since he lived in Memphis, so we drove by places that held memories for both of us. Finally, I drove him around where I live now. I pointed out my neighbors’ homes and shared endearing stories about each one. I love my neighbors.
As we circled the block to head back to my office, we came upon a woman walking down the middle of the street. She is a familiar sight for those of us who live in my community.
Today was my first immunotherapy treatment. Everyone tells me that these are wonder drugs with amazing results. I believe them. I just don’t want to settle into a routine that defines me by cancer. I don’t want to be a cancer patient. I-DON’T-WANT-TO-BE-A-CANCER-PATIENT!!! I don’t want to spend time in cancer clinics. I want to get on with the work I love – promoting Christ’s agenda to and through people I love in the CCHF community. I want to be in my office…or visiting someone else’s office. But I DON’T WANT TO BE IN THE CANCER CLINIC.
Yesterday I enjoyed an afternoon of blood tests, CT scan, and a visit with my new oncologist. Here is the bottom line. There has been no significant change in my cancer – no growth, no spread. No reduction, either – at least not anything that the radiologist and oncologist consider “significant”. They say my tumors have “stabilized”. That is a good thing.
Monday I go to the oncology clinic for a whole afternoon.
First, they will do blood work. In the past, my blood work has been normal. I will be eager to see if that has changed.
Then I go for a CT scan. They will scan my whole body to see if the tumors that were there 2 months ago have changed, multiplied or disappeared. I am hoping/praying that prayer and diet, the things for which I have greatest confidence, have had a measurable effect.
I don’t think I am clinically depressed. I’ve promised to be transparent, so the truth is that today is a “down” day. I don’t know why. I had a fun morning fishing with my good friend and his kids. Maybe it is that I am fasting. Maybe it is because I spend 2 hours this afternoon going through medical bills and insurance statements. Maybe it is just the natural ebb and flow of emotions – I was up on Friday, now down on Saturday.
I met my new oncologist today, and had a great appointment. We were encouraged (Vic was with me). He spent over 30 minutes with us, came in well prepared, had clear recommendations, listened to our concerns, and patiently answered all of our questions honestly with a positive and affirming attitude.
He is my new oncologist because I fired the old one.
One of the things people are most curious about is my cancer-fighting diet. The truth: My hope for beating this cancer is for God to do something miraculous. But I have adopted a radical diet for 15 weeks to make me as internally healthy as possible, to try to naturally support my immune system to fight the cancer, and to make my body as inhospitable to cancer as I can.
I am a visual guy. I think in pictures; and there is a picture that is helping me during this bizarre season of my life. But before I share it with you, here are a few thoughts that will help you understand it better.
John 5 is the story about Jesus healing a man at the pool of Bethesda. After healing him, he told him to take his mat and go home. On the way, some religious knuckleheads stopped the man and asked, “Dude, why are you carrying your mat? Don’t you know it’s Sabbath! That’s illegal.” The guy responded by telling them that the guy who healed him told him to. But he didn’t know who healed him, because Jesus slipped through the crowd right after. Later, Jesus stalked the guy and found him in the temple. He tells him, “Stop sinning or worse things might happen to you.” (a warning, not a threat) So the guy runs to the religious leaders and rats Jesus out. The religious guys then found and confronted Jesus, “Did you heal this guy on Sabbath?”
It was a Tuesday when my primary care doc called me to tell me the results of my PET scan: “There is a 2” (5cm) tumor in your right lung and a tumor in your left lung. It is cancer, there is no doubt about it. It’s bad, and it’s hyperactive – growing and aggressive. It is other places, too. We need to get you to an oncologist as quickly as we can.”
Today I had SRS surgery. It is not surgery that you normally thing about. No knives, incisions, scalpels or stitches. Not even an operating room. It is all done with highly focused beams of radiation which are aimed through your scalp from different angles, and done through a high resolution MRI. Some of you may have heard of cyber-knife or gamma-knife surgery. SRS is like gamma-knife surgery 2.0.
In June 2019 I was diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic melanoma. I decided to share my story and experiences here so that friends and those who are simply curious can get a glimpse into my journey through this. I hope God will heal me. I expect God to heal me. But whether He does or doesn’t, I promise to be honest and transparent, in hopes that other will benefit from this difficult and rich season of my life.