Context, Context, Context

He Really is in the Details

Thanks for all your prayers during my recent CAT » DOG «backwards» GOD scan (long story … but kind of fun – ask me about it some time). We went over the results with our oncologist yesterday and … well … a little context first …

Back on April 9, I was diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer. I had no idea what that was so I did the exact wrong thing – I googled it. I’m in the hospital with nurses and doctors all around me and I’m on my iPad googling “pancreatic cancer facts”. There’s a wealth of knowledge out there and almost none of it encouraging. Here’s a few things I gleaned from various medical websites:

  • In the U.S. alone, over 37,000 are estimated to die of pancreatic cancer this year.
  • 50% will die within the first six months of diagnosis.
  • 74% will die within the first year of diagnosis.
  • 94% will die within the first five years of diagnosis.
  • Only 6% will survive more than five years.

Cheery, right? The biggest problem is that pancreatic cancer has very few symptoms and, by the time it’s diagnosed, it’s already spread to other organs. Steve Jobs lived eight years after his diagnosis because he had a rare form of pancreatic cancer that grew very slowly and was more easily treatable. Patrick Swayze lived 20 months after his diagnosis while Michael Landon only lived three.

Tomorrow will be a milestone of sorts — October 9 will be six months after my diagnosis. I’m still here and I’m still kicking. No, really; I’m kicking … like waist-level high with a little help since my balance has gone out the window. Stop chuckling; I’m still a black belt.

With that context in mind (the cancer, not the kicking), you’ll understand why our meeting with our oncologist was encouraging. My tumor is still there, it’s still localized (hasn’t spread anywhere) and it’s still about the same size. One of the most common phrases throughout the report was “no significant change”. And my tumor markers are the lowest they’ve been (45) since I was diagnosed. My lungs and liver are clear and the mass from the last scan has disappeared. The radiation therapy and the chemo therapies have pretty much stopped the cancer in it’s tracks. In our hearts, we were hopeful for much more dramatic news (Tumor? What tumor?) but if I have to be treated with these same chemotherapies for next the 4½ years, I’ll take that because then it’s time to write a paper for oncology journals; my doctor said he’d help.

But here’s the thing. Remember those stats earlier? Well, consider this:

  • 100% of those who surrender their lives to Him will come into His presence.
  • 100% of those who walk in truth cause joy in His heart.
  • 100% of those who are crucified in Him know it’s not about dying but Who lives in us.
  • 100% of His promises are kept though not always in the way we want or expect.
  • 100% of those who believe know that in this world, we will have trials and sufferings; yet we are of good cheer because He has overcome the world.

I may be a part of both sets of statistics but only one really matters to me.

If you’re praying –

  • Pray that He will continue to sustain me at work – I got a visit in my office today from an African pastor who really just wanted to thank those of us who work at the corporate headquarters for what we do. It’s funny that he had no idea what my condition is but knew the exact right encouraging words to say.
  • Pray that He sends me better scuba gear – I often feel like the tasks and projects are carrying me under but instead of struggling to get my head above water, I think I just need better scuba gear (This is from the Stop Complaining And Work On A Solution department of my work ethic).
  • On Thursday, I have a phone interview with an Australian radio station about my I am Second film. I’m content with being officially the second film released even though I did the prototype; I’m content because, with I am Second, being first is not always a good thing. Plus, if he asks “So, what’s been happening since you did that film?”, we’ll have a lot more to talk about.
  • Pray for Gail and I as we prepare for an e3 trip to Israel in December with Tom Doyle.
  • Thank Him for designing Man to make chocolate – it’s the mini-sized things that brought smiles to the IT department today.
  • Thank Him for letting me look into the faces of my grandkids tonight.

Today is a good day.

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