Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Having Faith in the Process or the Person

In order to assure the best positive odds for your recovery from cancer, sources tell me through various conversations, books and articles that it is up to me and me alone to choose the process of my treatment. I am to believe in the treatment, believe in the doctors and believe that it will have a positive outcome.

I understand that. I really do understand that. It makes sense. People who compete in marathons have to believe that they have trained long and hard enough to complete it. Football players have to believe that they will find a way to win or else there is no point in participating. People who have goals in life must believe that they can achieve those goals in order to get there.

All must have total commitment to the process. They can have commitment to the process because they have been down that road before...or they know someone who has.

This reminds me of the conversation between the chicken and the pig. The chicken is thrilled she  is able to provide healthy food to to the world. The pig is less than enthused than the chicken, "Well, you are lucky you only have to contribute an egg or two here and there for people to eat. It requires a total commitment for me."

Commitment means you are all in. You are not holding anything back. You totally belive in what your are about to do and you are sure of the outcome with no reservation.

Cancer enters the room. Suddenly your picture of the entire world is challenged. Something has to be done to get rid of it. It cannot be ignored, yet not all is known about it even with the most expensive of tests. The decision is up to you. Doctors and people, most of whom you only know by reputation, are giving you their solid opinon as to what you should do and why. You research books, journal articles, websites and any other written source for information.

You are given clear pictures of the risks in different scenarios. You are told that surgery is not the best option for you because:
  1. There is a 51% chance that the cancer has left the prostate and if you take it out, you will still have cancer at the end of that process and have long term recovery to deal with to boot.
  2. For a person of your size, the liklihood for serious complications after surgery is quite high...but it is possible to do surgery if you really want to (at least they keep SAYING that).
  3. The hormone deprivation process is simply a politically correct way of saying "chemotherapy".
  4. The hormone process will last at least a year, meaning I will have to deal with a lot of menopausal-like symptoms like hot flashes, irritability and other things women are familiar with so its better to deal with that than the other side effects of surgery.
  5. The radiaton process will be over in 9 weeks and supposedly I wont have a prostate anymore after that...which would have been the outcome of surgery anyway.
So, as they say, the ball is in my court. The decision is mine to make...the doctors keep saying it is totally up to me. But the way they say it makes it clear to me that if I choose surgery, they ain't gonna be the ones to do it. They didn't say that, but I know when my arm is being gently twisted.

It all boils down to faith. Faith and I used to be well acquainted up until about 15 or 16 years ago. I won't go into details, but it was at that time that I found out the institutions and people that I had looked up to and trusted for so many years ...had violated that trust and were not there for me when I needed them the most. Things like that are not forgotten easily. It is only in recent years that I was able to start moving beyond that because the wounds were so, so deep.

I guess you could say I was in the same sort of place John Wesley was when he was smuggled out of the Georgia colony and sailed back to Europe in the hold of ship feeling very abandoned by God and all he trusted. (Methodists will know what I am referring to.) It was only through the loving attention and carre of some Moravians and other friends that he was able to recover from that spiritual crisis.

Faith is something I have had a hard time with...just like Wesley. He found his way back, I am still on the way back. I am further along the road, but I am not at the place yet where Faith and I are friends yet.

Now I am in a different situation where I must have faith...in the doctors, the treatment, the process and that I will somehow get through all the problems to come that I don't even know about yet. So, with faith being so critical to my health and future, you can understand my situation.

So, I have openly told people that I know I don't have the faith, strength or the intestinal fortitude to get through this on my own. I have to borrow the faith and strength of others to help me. One person told me they thought I was being melodramatic about it. Well, I don't care what that person thinks. 99% of the people I have talked to have been very caring and supportive and it means more to me than any of you will ever know. You are helping me find my way back.

My faith is growing in the process and in the doctors. I know that God will be there to guide me and the medical experts even if I am not aware of it. I have to trust that I can get through this financially, though the thought of it scares me a lot. Faith has not served me well in the past, but it has to get me through this.


  1. Remember, Richard, that John Wesley's real (most effective) ministry began AFTER his Aldersgate Experience which came only AFTER he returned to England from Georgia! You've been through some pretty tough times and have lots more to come, but now you KNOW you are not alone. There are a large number of friends and family who are praying for you, conversing (even if it's this way) with you, supporting you, and will help you and your family in any way we can. Phil. 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ, Who strengthens me." Well, the Church is the Body of Christ, and I pray that the support you receive from Christ's Body will help heal the hurt of the past at it's hands.

  2. Thank you Anna. Sometimes, I just think I express myself better this way. It helps to visually see my thoughts written down. The support of so many reminds me of the action of prevenient grace in my life. I haven't always been ready to accept it or pay much attention to it because I am distracted. Other things get my attention.

    When you feel violated, either by your own body turning against you or by people you thought you could trust...it is very hard to see beyond that. Never have I been more aware of it than I am today. Cancer dominates my every thought, which is normal for someone in my position. I know and believe from what people tell me that this is temporary and after treatments start I will find a "new normal" (whatever that is).

    There is experience that tells you that once you get to the other side of whatever crisis you face...you will be able to look back and see how God led you through it, along with a lot of friends and people you haven't even met yet. The world is full of testimonies like that...and a few of them are mine.

    Yes, I know that I am not alone. That "knowledge" is mostly in my mind and tends to be retrospective rather than in the present moment. Being aware in the "present moment" that I am not alone has always been a challenge for me...but it is better now than it has been in many years. It makes me feel good to say that.

    The fear is still there, though, and that is not necessarily a bad thing. I have failed time and time again over the years to live a healthier life. Any weight loss became a weight gain. Exercise has always been a discourgement to me because the process of getting over the hump with it to the point of it being enjoyable not only hurts a lot...but bores me to tears. I no longer have the ability to humor myself. If I want to live, I have to do it. Fear is a huge motivator...but I will be ready for the fear to subside and the motivation to come from a place of healing and strength.

    A book I read said to not think of changing your nutrition and your activity as something that you have to do...think of it as something exciting that you get to do instead. When I read something like that...or hear some well-intentioned person say that...I think that person is from Mars and has NO IDEA what it is like to walk in my shoes.

    I thank you and my many friends for being there and helping me to see the light at the end of the tunnel.