Sunday, December 5, 2010

A happy dance...

For the last couple of days, I've been doing "the happy dance" even though I have no idea how to do it. To understand why, I need to give you a bit of background. Hopefully, it will be understandable.

Since having been treated for prostate cancer in Summer '08, I need to have a psa (prostate specific antigen) test every 3 months for three years to make certain my psa number is low. Without getting technical, when it comes to psa numbers, lower is better.

With the kind of therapy I had (proton beam radiation), you still have prostate tissue when you're done being treated, so still produce psa. The assumption is that over time, the radiation slowly but surely destroys all the cancer cells. So unlike surgery, where your number is instantly 0.00, with any form of radiation it will slowly go down until you reach your "nadir" (low point) by 2 yrs or so (though it can take up to 3 yrs). A continuing low number is a strong indication that the cancer has been destroyed. On Saturday I got the results of my 27 month check, and my number was 50% lower than 3 months ago, and it has been pretty darned low for the last year anyway. That is absolutely incredible, and I am filled with praise for what God has done. So you can see why I'm dancin'!

Through this process, I've been reminded of an important lesson . We really are all different, and the only helpful thing is to compare ourselves to ourselves, and not to anybody else. I say this because some of the guys I went through therapy with hit lower numbers than mine much more quickly than I did, and that bugged me. While I knew that we didn't begin with the same numbers, and our bodies are different, nonetheless, it was way too easy to do the comparison thing, and worry about the fact that my number wasn't dropping as fast as somebody else's. Frankly, that is neither helpful nor of any value. The point is not "is my score as low or lower than somebody else's," but rather, "is mine doing what it's supposed to do - go down"?

How easy it is for us to assume our lives are supposed to work like somebody else's, even in our spiritual lives. We worry that we aren't as prayerful as somebody else, or as compassionate, or as knowledgeable, or whatever, when God is not comparing us to anybody else at all. The point isn't how do we stack up with somebody else; rather, it is how are we doing now compared to how we were doing a year ago, two years ago, five years ago. God sees each of us as unique individuals, and works with us exactly where we are. As for me, I'm asking the Lord to do with me what he wants to do with me, not what he wants to do with somebody else. How about you?



Wednesday, December 1, 2010

God is good all the time...

Sometimes it's a challenge to remember that "God is good all the time, all the time God is good." Why? Because it's easy to get overwhelmed by challenges of the day, things that seem greater than your ability to cope. At those times, deep down inside, most all of us wonder: is God really good all the time? The answer, of course, is "yes." It's just that we don't see his goodness at the moment.

As we navigate Betty's breast cancer, we've hit a few bumps in the road. But for us, it causes us to draw back, catch our breath, and trust God more. Figure it out: we'd be hitting the same bumps with or without him. How much better that he is walking with us!

I hesitate to continue to write about Betty's treatment because so many other people are facing difficult issues. Our lives are no more important than anybody else's. At the same time, I know that we are to bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. How can people be expected to do that if they don't know what those burdens are? So with that in mind, I continue to update, usually on Facebook.

Today Betty had a good second chemo treatment. The first went sideways, and she ended up in the hospital. Then one of her surgery incisions began to separate, so she had to go back for another surgery. That caused the chemo to be postponed. On and on it went. So finally we feel like we're back on track. Thus far (about 6 hours into it!), things are going much better than they did the first time. The doctor tweaked one of the chemo drugs a bit, and changed the drip solution they use, hoping this would make things work more smoothly. It appears his decision was the right one. Coupled with all the folks who are praying, it should work well!

If you're like me, you're getting pretty tired of cancer! Every time I turn around, I bump into somebody else who has just been diagnosed with one form or another. In the last two weeks, I've come across 3 gals who have been diagnosed with breast cancer of one form or another, and are in the throes of deciding what to do. We feel blessed that Betty has already been able to share with them in that process.

While all this is going on, God is drawing us closer and closer to himself. Though we have more than a few candles on our cakes at birthdays, it's like we are in a fresh time of learning with the Lord. How good that is! If only we can pass on a fraction of what he is teaching us, we will feel most blessed.

May the Lord be your strength,