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?