I am such a liar.
Each day, friends, colleagues and patients casually ask the question we all routinely ask, “How are you?” “Fine,” I reply, “I’m good.”
But I’m not.
A couple months ago my wife noticed some swollen lymph nodes in my neck. I talked to my family doctor and a surgeon. An ultrasound was inconclusive and when the nodes did not go away with a course of antibiotics, we elected to proceed with a biopsy. The odd thing is I felt and still feel absolutely fine. The surgeon removed both enlarged lymph nodes and in the first week of June I received the pathology report. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Cancer.
I’m not used to this. I’m the doctor, not the patient. I’m supposed to be the healer, the comforter, the encourager. Except that’s never been the case. Oh, I can diagnose things, recommend some medication, even bind up a wound. But I’ve never healed anything in my life. Any comfort or encouragement I can give is limited by my own human failings and frailties. I know all this. It’s really no surprise but it’s still easier standing beside the examination table instead of laying down on it.
Cancer is a scary word. We’ve all been affected by it and we can’t help but fear it. The diagnosis is tough to receive. And I’m not sure if having a lot of medical knowledge is good or bad. You can wind up reading reports, summaries and statistics until your brain spins and your heart aches. It’s easy to turn inward. To withdraw. To isolate.
I’ve felt that. Sometimes it feels like I’ve never been less alone and yet felt so lonely.
My family and friends have surrounded me with their love and their prayers. My children stand beside me, sometimes confused, sometimes angry, sometimes at peace. But always loving. My wife and I have cried in each other’s arms. We have taken turns reassuring and encouraging each other. And we have recommitted ourselves to each other and to our God.
We have figured a few things out. There are some things we know beyond any doubt. God is real. God is all good. God is all powerful. God is sovereign. And most of all, God is love.
He loves us. He loved us before I had cancer, before I knew Him, before I was born, even before the world was made. He loved me, He loved us, even then.
He is the Great Physician, the Healer, the Comforter. I will trust in Him. I will trust in Jesus.
I don’t know how this journey with cancer will end. We don’t know all the details yet. The grade. The stage. The recommended treatment. But I do know that Jesus will be with me every step of the way. I feel His presence and sense His peace. I will never be alone.
If you’d like you can come along. That way it won’t be at all lonely.