I don’t want to “bury the lead” so I’ll start by saying I got good news from the doctor today. Many of you know I had to have a CT scan about a month ago, which led to a biopsy about a week and a half ago. Which led to a bunch of new pain in my throat. The doctor was concerned with something she had seen on my PET scan. The CT scan wasn’t conclusive, so she did the biopsy. The results came back that it was fibrosis and scar tissue. Fibrosis is a buildup of fibrous tissue. It is a common side effect of radiation. So, they didn’t find any leftover cancer. This was such a huge relief to us! Of course, they will continue to follow up for quite some time, but it appears that I can put this behind me and get back to healing up.
If they had found ANY cancer cells they would have done surgery. It would have been very invasive – taking out my tonsils, cutting up into the muscles in my jaw, and taking out part of the base of my tongue. In other words, the surgery would have to go everywhere the cancer had spread. It was my doctor’s goal from the very beginning to avoid this surgery if at all possible.
This past month has been a new lesson of living with uncertainty. I am not a very patient person. But times like this force you to be patient. The reality is that none of us has certainty when it comes to physical life. I just learned last night of the sudden death of a colleague and friend, Harald Aadahl. Harald managed Eastover, the retreat center owned by our association. He was out splitting wood on a pleasant afternoon just before dusk. He died suddenly and was found beside his truck. Harald loved working with his hands – and I imagine he was enjoying the day. He either had a massive heart attack or aneurism. He went doing what he loved to do – but way too early in life from our perspective.
I am reminded of Matthew 6.27, “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” No, we cannot. We need to learn to live today. Take what comes our way. Be thankful for what we have. In this same message from Jesus, he tells us that God knows what we need. If we truly believe that God is in control, AND that a better life waits for us when we die – we shouldn’t worry. To once again quote blues guitarist Albert King, “Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die.”
I don’t know about you – I still worry! I’m not an optimist or a pessimist. I am a realist. I could die today. I know that. And on one level I’m OK with it. Yet, I’m not homesick for heaven. I’d just as soon be around for a long time to come. I’ve still got ministry to do, and fish to catch. I want to grow old with Peggy spoiling our grandkids. I’m hugely relieved to hear my medical good news. And once again, am very grateful for all the wonderful medical people who have fought hard to get me here. I don’t take it for granted for one moment. At the same time, I hurt for Harald’s family who I am sure are left wondering why. We all know he is in that better place. But for selfish reasons, we wish he were still here.
Anyway, thanks again for every one of you who constantly tell me that you have been praying for me. It means more that you can ever know.