Tag Archives: cancer

A more upbeat plot twist: Total remission!

 This is a follow up to Plot twist: I’ve got cancer and Cancer treatment update: So far, so good.  Thanks for the prayers!

Short version: Total remission! I had my 5th chemo treatment today and will have one more treatment next month as precaution. I’ll probably just have annual scans after that. Thanks for all the love, prayers and support and thank-you to Jesus for countless answered prayers.  By the way, I thought tumor was only golf ball sized. Turns out it was about 3 inches!  But it is gone.

It is interesting to rewind the tape at this point and ensure we’ve learned all we can from this and celebrated all the seemingly countless blessings God brought our way.  I had cancer, but I also had Jesus — and still do — and that made all the difference.

I imagine that it works this way for many cancer patients.  At some point you get an official diagnosis, but you realized you had something serious long before that.  For me it was when my general practitioner called after an ultrasound (they had suspected kidney stones).  He said that there was a triangle shaped thing on my kidney.  I immediately knew that it was cancer, even though they wanted to do a CT scan to confirm it.  In an odd way, it was good that it was cancer instead of something benign, because either way it was causing serious problems.  Chemo took care of it, but had it been benign it would have involved a tricky surgery to remove.  And if the cancer was part of my kidney and stomach, as it first appeared, that would have required removing the kidney and some of the stomach.

Before the PET scan that was the final confirmation that I only had this one cancer, I sat there and realized this would go one of 3 broad ways: (1) a miraculous healing, (2) the Lymphoma they had predicted that would be treatable, or (3) that there were other more serious cancers that could require more testing and/or serious procedures or be more life-threatening.  By the grace of Jesus, I was at truly content and at peace with any of those and was that way through the entire process. But to be candid, my reaction to range of options when you know you have cancer – which was before they officially told me — was more about laziness than fear – though I’m not sure which is worse.  I was content either way trusting in Jesus, but I wanted the least amount of work for me to get the maximum glory for Jesus. I suppose that’s my Spiritual Gift of Laziness — one of the lesser known gifts, along with my Spiritual Gift of Rationalization.

The medical team was amazing.  Every last person.  The doctor and many of the nurses were committed believers.  Oncology is a tough discipline even for the medical field.  I am so grateful for their education, their hard work and their dedication in a truly challenging field.  Many cases don’t work out like this.  And their jobs get tougher daily with all the bureaucracy and funding requirements they deal with.

God can and does do miracles, but He will ultimately draw to him whomever He wills.  But He doesn’t always do miracles.  If he had cured me immediately or even partway through with a miracle I would have missed out on so many blessings.  I have zero complaints about any of this.

Many people prayed for it to be miraculously removed, and that would have been fine with me.  But Jesus is still the same King of Kings and Lord of Lords regardless of how this played out with me – live or die.  He can be glorified in so many ways.  See If I Have Enough Faith, Will God Heal Me?  for more on that important topic.

And since we will all eventually die, we need to think carefully about eternity and whether we are right with the one true God.  Make no mistake: I know people have been wounded by church and by Christians,  heard bad theology, been repulsed at prosperity gospel preachers and seen much hypocrisy (and the Bible predicted many times that all those bad things would happen).  And I’m well aware that every day Christianity becomes more in conflict with the world’s values — though that is a design feature, not a bug.

But do those things mean Jesus didn’t rise from the dead or that you should reject Christianity?  Not at all. That, my fiends, is the central question of human history. If He didn’t rise from the dead, then Christianity openly admits that it would be false (1 Corinthians 15). But if He did, that changes everything.  The only miracle I really need is the resurrection. Everything falls into place from there.  It proves all his claims.  And He affirmed the Old Testament  to the last letter and authorized the New Testament, so we can trust what He has delivered to us.

Sadly, most people — even in churches! — don’t know about the evidence for the resurrection.  I love pointing out how that even atheist historians concede many facts of history that support the resurrection and debunk the alternative theories (i.e., that the disciples stole Jesus’ body, that He didn’t really die, that people had mass hallucinations, etc.).  Nearly 100% of historians of that time period agree that a real person named Jesus died on a Roman cross, that his followers believed He rose from the dead, that the Apostle Paul went from persecuting Christians to being the greatest evangelist in history and wrote nearly half the books of the New Testament, and more.

The cross was simultaneously the greatest evil and greatest good in history. The only perfect human ever – and God in flesh – was found guilty in a mockery of a trial, beaten, humiliated and nailed to a cross like a piece of meat until he died.  Why?  To save us from our sins, if only we would repent and trust in him.  Please carefully consider these claims and don’t think that you will be able to sit in judgment of God or dictate the terms of eternity to him.

So whatever you do, don’t believe either of the opposite but equally wrong lies that you don’t need God because you are good enough, or that you are beyond his forgiveness because you are too bad.

Again, this is my #1 book recommendation outside of the Bible: If you would like a great summary of the Bible and Christianity, check out The Story of Reality by Greg Koukl.  Though it is easy to read and less than 200 pages, it covers the major themes of the Bible from beginning to end and provides evidence as to why Christianity is true and other worldviews are not.  Even if you don’t end up believing you will have a much better understanding of what you disagree with.  It gives solid answers to common questions while showing how Christian worldview best conforms to reality.  And if you believe it will strengthen your faith and give you something to share with others.

Again, the blessings haven’t stopped coming with this adventure.  I have such a great wife and kids and extended family, and countless friends who have prayed for us and offered to help in any way.  I had it fairly easy.  Really, I just laid down for various scans and had medicine pumped in me while sitting in a recliner. Mrs. Eternity Matters did so much more and with such love.  We had countless relationships that thawed/renewed/grew/started, and those alone would have been more than worth the price.  We learned to give people the benefit of the doubt more and to be more assertive in reaching out to others who need encouragement.   And so much more.  So our main prayer — that we wouldn’t waste any of this — has been answered countless times, and we thank God repeatedly for that.

In short, we’ve lived what we believed, and that would have made this process better regardless of the outcome.

Thanks to everyone who offered prayers and encouragement to me and my family throughout this.  You have no idea how much every comment meant.

Be blessed!


A couple pictures: We got Daisy, a French Bulldog rescue, shortly after treatments started.  We weren’t in the market for a dog, but a good friend runs a small pet rescue and had the perfect one for us.  The timing was great.  She was a great nap-dog as I slept through the chemo crashes.  Here she is drunk-Tweeting.  Again.

Here she is sobered up.  Truly a blessing.  Sweetest dog you can imagine and a great stress relief.

Despite the chemo treatments, Mrs. Eternity Matters and I were able to continue practicing and had a joyful time at a ballroom dance competition.  The process was a great distraction and staying active really helped me feel better.  One of the many tender mercies from God.

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Cancer treatment update: So far, so good. Thanks for the prayers!

Some updates and random thoughts as a follow up to Plot twist: I’ve got cancer.

The treatment process is going smoothly.  I’ve finished two rounds of chemotherapy, with four more to go (one every 28 days).  Mrs. Eternity Matters calls it Chemo Day Camp, because I show up with a cooler of food, a jacket and my laptop bag.  I suppose it is the camp you settle for if you sign up too late for the basketball / volleyball / archery / etc. camps.  They just set up the IV, then I can eat, use my laptop and phone or even take a nap.  The nurses are super-friendly and great at explaining things.

After treatments I feel like I am ready for the All-Drug Olympics, as I have as many as 8-9 things flowing through my body at once: chemotherapy, immunotherapy, a steroid, Benadryl, Tylenol, anti-nausea, shingles prevention, uric acid prevention, Flintstones Chewable Vitamins, etc.

  • Me: This first round of chemotherapy wasn’t bad. I feel pretty energetic!
  • Also me: You forgot that they gave you a steroid in the chemo mix. The exhaustion will hit in a couple days.
  • Me: D’oh!

Our main prayers have been for healing (I assume the tumor is being killed, and will have a mid-treatment scan next month to confirm progress), minimal side effects (answered!) and that we not waste any of the experience (answered!).

The challenge in something like this is to:

Strive to point to and glorify Jesus  . . .

Matthew 5:16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

. . . without photobombing him

Matthew 6:1 Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.

I pray often that we will stay on the right side of that.  I have had countless opportunities to live it out.  In my flesh I know I’d be deeply scared throughout this, but by focusing on Jesus I can honestly say I’ve slept well every night — even in the early days when I knew I had cancer but had no idea about the severity or treatment plans.  I’ve had friends note that the positive approach is “oozing” out of me.  It isn’t like I’m trying to do it, it is just there.  I’ve been able to share with believers and non-believers in all sorts of ways.  I know it is 100% by the grace of God that we’ve lived what we believe, and that has made this process better regardless of the eventual outcome.

Many thanks to everyone who has offered prayers and encouragement to me and my family throughout this.  You have no idea how much every comment meant.

Be blessed!

Plot twist: I’ve got cancer.

Also, Jesus is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords and my Savior, and I’m more grateful for that than ever.

I didn’t see that coming.  No risk factors and no typical symptoms, other than a low-grade fever that could have been many things.

But the blessings from this have been many.

It could have gone undetected a long time, but through a series of other ailments and unusual circumstances I ended up getting scans that I wouldn’t have had otherwise.

The healthcare system here has been amazing, with multiple doctors who have never met collaborating quickly to get tests and results.  I am grateful for first-world medical care.  This could have been a death sentence in most parts of the world and certainly most times in history.  The doctors are so skilled at reading things like CT scans.  They look like blobs of grey to me, but they can quickly see where things are amiss.  But I do laugh when they try to point things out to me, as if I could actually follow along.  They could tell me, “Now here’s the spot where there is a unicorn inside you” and I’d say, “Uh, yeah, sure, provided that you ask me no follow-up questions, I see the horn right there . . .”

It is non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (though we didn’t know that right away), which has a high success rate in treatment.  And it will be probably be addressed via chemotherapy (we should be meeting with the oncologist next week to get a treatment plan).  I was hoping to get through life without chemo, but that is still better than chemo + surgery (the first reviews of the CT scan indicated that it might have been going from my left kidney — my favorite!! — to my stomach, which could have meant losing all of the former and some of the latter).

From a practical standpoint, it has prompted me to document our finances and such even more.  We’ve had wills, power of attorney (medical and legal) forms, etc. along with some general documentation, but I realized it would help to do even more.  After all, even aside from this I could die in an accident any day.  I read about a woman who was so grateful that her husband carefully documented all their financial information so that when he died things were so much easier for her.  It doesn’t fit the worldly definition of love and romance, but it is a great gift to leave your loved ones.  Grieving over losing you will be bad enough, but spending stressful hours sorting out your finances and such will make things harder for them.  So I’ve got a list of things to update to make it more clear about passwords, insurance, retirement accounts, bill paying, etc. I encourage you to do the same.

I am reminded of what a fantastic wife I have and how completely wise and supportive she has been through this.  And my children are amazing, and the rest of the family, friends, co-workers and church family have been tremendous as well.  What an indescribable blessing.

I am much more empathetic to many brothers-in-Christ and others who live with chronic pain.  The last couple months were rough as they included a variety of unusual ailments.  But they pale in comparison to what others deal with on a continuing basis.  Their perseverance and faith are a humbling inspiration to me in light of my far lesser issues.

This was a friendly reminder about our mortality.  Make no mistake: Whether you have 40 more minutes or 40 more years, you will directly face the one true God some day (Psalm 90:12 So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom).  At the risk of being Captain Obvious, you will not sit in judgment of God or dictate the terms and conditions of life to him.   You can’t dictate the terms and conditions to parents, bosses, teachers, police, or even a McDonald’s cashier, so don’t be foolish and think you can do that with God. The rich young ruler walked away sadly when he didn’t like God’s requirements but Jesus didn’t chase after him to negotiate.  Repent and believe now while you can and accept God’s unbelievably gracious forgiveness through Jesus.

I don’t wish these experiences on anyone, but really knowing where your faith is in situations like this is a true blessing.   In the midst of all this – especially when things were less clear — I can honestly say I had contentment through Christ, just as He promised in Philippians 4* and elsewhere.  Yes, there were anxious moments wondering about different scenarios, but whenever I refocused on Jesus I was at ease.  I’ve been sleeping well and am truly trusting in his sovereignty.  Whether I live or die, I trust in what He said in Philippians 1**

Our main prayer is that we won’t waste any of this.  God has already given us many opportunities to encourage others and to share this to his glory.  I did drop the ball once — which I pray won’t happen again — when I failed to pray with a visibly nervous guy in a waiting room.  I prayed for him but should have prayed with him.  We really want to look to the interests of others and not just our own, as in Philippians 2***.  (Yes, I’ve been spending a lot of time in Philippians :-)).

All that said, I have to admit that this involves three things I’m not fond of:

  1. Medical stuff (time, $, decisions, uncertainty, pain)
  2. Things that make my wife anxious
  3. Being the center of attention

Prayers are welcomed, not just for healing and minimal side effects 🙂 but that Christ would be glorified every step of the way**** and that others could be comforted and encouraged throughout this.

It is always a good day to be a Christian, but in times like this I especially enjoy it.

P.S. If you would like a great, easy to read summary of the Bible and Christianity, I highly recommend The Story of Reality by Greg Koukl. Even if you don’t end up believing you will have a much better understanding of what you disagree with.


*Philippians 4:10–14 I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble.

**Philippians 1:15–26 Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again.

***Philippians 2:3–4 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

****Ephesians 6:18–20 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.

“The Holocaust was probably less than 3% of Germany’s budget” and other responses to Planned Parenthood distortions

Much has been made of Planned Parenthood’s marketing spin about “only” 3% of their services being abortions.  This is one of their lead arguments and it has been quickly swallowed and advanced by their supporters.  It is part of their effective campaign to conflate abortions (which are increasingly unpopular — especially with young people) with birth control (which most people reflexively support).  Yes, it is deceptive, but remember that Satan is evil, not stupid.  They could separate the businesses tomorrow and have zero problems getting funding for the contraceptive side, but that will never happen.

Here are some quick responses to make when you hear the “only 3%” line.

1. So?  The Holocaust was probably less than 3% of Germany’s budget.  If part of an organization’s charter involves killing innocent but unwanted human beings, then I don’t really care what other good they allegedly do.

2. I didn’t notice a wedge in the pie chart for systematically hiding statutory rape and sex trafficking.  How much of their resources are dedicated to those well-documented activities, and shouldn’t those who perpetuate those crimes be in jail instead of getting massive Federal funding?  [Note: Human sex trafficking is one of those rare issues that unites Liberals and Conservatives, so this is a great topic to focus on.]

3. The 3% figure deliberately understates the situation.  Just do some simple math: They did 329,000 abortions for 3,000,000 clients.  That means 11% of the people walking through the doors got abortions (or, more specifically, 11% of the people came in carrying an innocent but unwanted human being but left alone).  And it is very likely that abortions consumed even more services than average.

4. HP’s PC Division sells far more accessories than computers, but which is their primary business?  You need to look at where PP gets most of their revenue, which is from abortions.  PP doesn’t pay these salaries based on how many condoms they give away, they get it from performing 329,455 abortions. (P.S. They are the 1% so I hope the Occupy Crowd protests them.)

President Cecile Richards $353,819
Chief Operating Officer Maryana Iskander $288,886
Chief Financial Officer Maria Acosta $263,443
VP of Medical Affairs Vanessa Cullins $257,115
VP of General Counsel Barbara Otten $251,379
VP of Public Policy Laurie Rubiner $248,438
VP of Operations Karen Ruffatto $247,932
VP of Affiliates Lisa David $245,322

——

Please commit a couple of those responses to memory and don’t let people get away with the “only 3%” distortion.  Feel free to copy and paste without attribution.

P.S. Yes, I’m familiar with Godwin’s Law.  I’m also familiar with Simpson’s Law, which says that I’ll make all the appropriate Nazi references I like without apology.