Saturday, June 25, 2016

Five Years

Five years ago this morning, at about 7am, I was reaching my hands as far outside of the window as my IV tubes would allow.

It was a beautiful June morning, full of a slow summer calm that would soon break into a hearty Kansas thunderstorm. My fifth-floor hospital room had quite the view. Directly below me was a parking lot; but beyond that, I could see people walking and making their way to work along tree-lined streets and sidewalks. I longed to escape the stale coolness of the hospital; but my IVs only allowed my hands and forearms to reach outside – to be hugged by the comforting humidity.

As I looked down upon those tree-lined streets and sidewalks, I reflected upon times past, when my brother William and I had pedaled our bikes down those familiar neighborhoods. I wanted to go biking with my brother again; but for the past several weeks I hadn’t been able to pedal a bike at all, because of the intense pain in my abdomen that had been chronically growing for more than 6 months. Never had I imagined that I would be in the situation I was, looking down on those streets from hospital windows up above. My Saturday was already planned for me. Soon my family would be arriving. Then I would be wheeled into a surgery room. At best, I would wake up to hear that the doctors had removed the third of my colon that had folded in on itself and died. At worst, I would wake to hear that the portion of my colon had been removed, and that the underlying cause of all my pain was confirmed to be cancer.

While waiting for my family to arrive and my surgery to begin, I decided to put on my headphones to listen to the newly released Coldplay song, “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall.” It isn’t by any means my favorite song; but I have done my best to listen to it every June 25th since that memorable morning in the hospital, back in 2011. I listened to that song a few times; and took a picture of myself since no one else was there. Soon a heavy rain started to fall. I took out my headphones, and closed the window only as much as I needed to in order to keep out the rain. I wanted to hear the thunder. My family arrived; and shortly thereafter, I was carted away to the operating room.

I don’t remember much from the rest of the day. I do remember waking up in the most intense pain I had ever experienced, only to hear the nurses say that they had already given me as much pain killers as a person should be given. Although I don’t remember it, my mom says that I began crying not long after waking up; but not just because of the pain, but because the doctor had just informed me that two large cancer tumors (one 4cm and another 5cm) had been removed, along with several cancer-infected lymph nodes, my appendix, one third of my colon, and a portion of my small intestine.

That all happened five years ago today. Generally, a person is referred to as having beaten cancer, after being cancer-free for five years. I had no idea what the next five years held for me; but in that moment I knew that I had cancer. Chemo treatments, genetic testing, huge medical bills, more surgeries, and plenty of other hardships were to follow. Most people would say that I had ample reason for concern and worry. The thing is, the past five years have been full with far more blessings than hardships. The cancer which I had to worry about, now rarely enters my mind. In fact, I had forgotten that today was the anniversary of my surgery. It was only when my wonderful 5-month old son’s crying made it impossible to focus on my sermon preparations for tomorrow, that I checked my email and found that my mom had wished me a happy five years being cancer free. Speaking of those sermon preparations, I had better bring this already-long contemplation to a close.

The conclusion of the story is this:

Serve God and trust Him no matter what troubles the future seems to hold, and you will find blessings, whatever may come. I am so very thankful to God for blessing me with a wonderful five-years being cancer-free; and tonight, I hope to celebrate these five years by eating pizza (which doctors say I should not eat because of my high risk of getting cancer again).

1 comment:

  1. We are so grateful that God has blessed you with being cancer free! You are a blessing to us.