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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The "C" Word

Cancer is a disease I don't remember being aware of until the early 70s, when a friend had bone cancer. I watched him become less and less active, and finally he could no longer leave his bed. The disease left him incredibly thin, and any movement at all broke the bones in his body. I can not imagine the pain he must have endured. It was a time when research and treatment was not as advanced as it is now. At the time I became terrified of getting cancer. The next time this disease reared it's head was with my own father. I had come to know The Lord as my Savior,by then, so cancer or any disease no longer held the same fear for me. My Dad was in the hospital for a biopsy, and he called early one morning to tell Me it was prostate cancer. He wanted to tell me first, so I could help soften the blow for my mother. My Dad had surgery, and it was completely successful! He never had a reoccurrence.

The very word cancer, has always been a word no one wants to hear from their doctor, and yet as it has become more prevalent in our world, it seems to have touched almost everyone I know. If caught early, chances are good that it is contained, and further treatment is not needed. Others are not able to be in remission without chemo and radiation. One friend battled colon cancer for years. He tried all kinds of things besides chemo, like nutrition and succeeded in fighting the fight for many years. In that time, he never missed work, and kept going. Another friend I had when we moved to Bellevue, was battling cancer when I met her. She often did not feel like driving, so I took her to her doctor, to chemo, and radiation. Chemo took several hours each time, and I went in and sat with her while she was there. As I sat in a large room at Methodist, there were multiple chairs, each with a patient waiting while the chemicals flowed through their bodies. What I learned was the incredible bravery of these people. I know they were in pain, the chemo made them sick, yet they smiled, visited, knitted, and read. Other than the ports, and tubes, and IV bags, you would not have known their misery. I remember one young wife who was there for the first time. She was the only one who still had long thick hair. She was scared, yet showed her brave, sweet side. I found out she was a believer in Jesus, so we shared some prayer time. I came away vowing that if I ever got cancer, I would pray to be as brave as she was.

Cancer does run in some families, and then again can attack with no previous history.
It is no respecter of race, religion, male, or female. It doesn't care of you are rich, poor, celebrity, or not. What I know is, everyone I have known has fought back with dignity, bravery, and confidence that they would be better. I no longer fear this disease, because I trust Jesus to be in charge. I know that the inner strength comes from Him, and I know that I have a network of family and friends behind me. My prayer is that I would be as brave as all those I have known. I sat in the hospital yesterday as another friend starts this journey. She will be no less brave.

One thing about this dreaded word is that it not only plays no favorites, it comes and goes. Some, like my Dad had a one time encounter, and never again. My sister had a one time encounter, and never again. Others, can be in remission for years, but it can return in another area unannounced. For them, each time a spot is found, or something isn't right, it is a trauma of "is it back?"  I praise God that research and treatment has been ongoing, and has come so far. Most of all, I praise God that He and He alone is the ultimate healer. If you, a friend, or loved one has been or is now on this journey, I pray that the great physician and healer, Jesus, is in charge and that you can trust Him for the outcome.... But the "C" word is still scary, and probably always will be. 

Childhood cancer is for me the saddest. These children at various ages have to endure the pain, the sickness of chemo, and the life of doctors, hospitals, needles, and fear, for something they probably don't understand. Again, these littlest patients have that same bravery and fighting spirit. What it all comes down to, for me, is a tremendous respect, and being totally in awe of anyone who has to go through this. What an inspiration all cancer patients are to the rest of us. No one will ever know their struggles, but them, because it is the bravery and courage we are left with!