Friday, April 15, 2011

Medical Update and God's Goodness

Yesterday was a long, but encouraging day. I had my sixth chemotherapy treatment on Tuesday (which means I'm halfway done with this round of chemo), so I was dealing with some of the fatigue and nausea that follow my treatment. Also, I had a bone scan done to see if my cancer has spread. I have been having pain in the center of my chest ever since my surgery. I just assumed it was from my surgery, but when I told my doctors about it they wanted me to get a bone scan done. My oncologist told me any time a cancer patient has pain in a bone it needs to get checked out because it could be an indication that the cancer has spread to the bone. So yesterday I had the bone scan done. In morning I went to the hospital to have a radioactive dye injected into my body to help the doctors read the scan. The dye had to be in my body for three hours before they could do the scan, so we returned to the hospital later in the afternoon to have the scan.

When my doctor suggested I have this bone scan done I began thinking a lot about what it would mean if the cancer had spread. I had not thought a lot about the possibility of the cancer spreading until this point, but the thought of it spreading was a little scary. But God gave me an incredible peace and trust, knowing that whatever the test results were, He is good, He loves me, and He is using every situation in our lives to bring Him glory. Thankfully, the technician told me that the scan looked normal. A radiologist still needs to look at it, but it is nice to know that it looks like the cancer has not spread into my bones. Praise God!   

While Matt and I were very grateful for my good medical report, we spent a while last night reflecting on some acquaintances' discouraging medical reports we read yesterday. Ruthie, the mother of one of Matt's classmates from college and seminary recently began battling cancer for the third time. And a couple from Matt's parents' church in Dallas have a one year-old granddaughter named Lucy who has been battling a serious illness and is not expected to live much longer. There is so much sickness all around us! We simply can't escape its reality or its pain. But as Lucy's father (also a pastor) reminded us, Jesus' death and resurrection have everything to do with how we as Christians respond to these hard issues of sickness, pain, and death. He is an excerpt from his most recent blog entry.
It is human nature to be repulsed by sickness, weakness, and death. Just make it go away. Just make it stop. Probably, it reminds us of our own mortality. And we are afraid. (There’s fear again.) And this fear causes people to become desperate. Searching for a cure. Traveling from one place to another for this treatment or that experimental remedy. Researching and reading. Everything from medicine to therapy and remedies natural, spiritual, and metaphysical. We fear death, and so we want to do something—anything to stop it. The grim fact is no matter how much we exhaust ourselves by trying, we cannot stop death. Death is our enemy. In fact, death is our worst and ultimate enemy. But our worst enemy has already been defeated. How do I know? Jesus Christ lives.

Ironically (and Providentially), next week is Holy Week. The week when we mark the finality of Christ’s victory over death as we walk with Jesus from his triumphal entry into Jerusalem to the Last Supper, to his crucifixion, and of course, his glorious resurrection. And so, the question is not, “Can God heal Lucy?” Of course he can. Nor is the question, “Why doesn’t God heal Lucy?” That has not been given to us to know—either in this situation or in any other. Actually, one way to answer the “Why” question is “God has already healed Lucy by strengthening her one day at a time for another year of life with us after her heart attack. And God will heal Lucy completely, either in this life or in his presence.” Of that, there is no question.
Praise be to God that Christ's death and resurrection has freed us from the curse of sin and death! We can face the hardships of this life with faith and hope in the new life he gives us as we share in His resurrection! And praise God that there are faithful saints like Ruthie Gutierriez and Lucy Jarrett whose physical suffering in this life points us to Christ and the promises of the life to come!

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls."
1 Peter 1:3-9