The problem of suffering or evil would perhaps be better termed The Problem of Narcissism or of Egotism. Be emptied of it, and the problem recedes. Retain it and the problem persists.
Egotism is the source and the sustinance of evil and of the conflicting sides of theodicy. Ego must be emptied; but, the trick is to empty ego and retain one’s self. The Self is necessary. For it is the Self that can donate. The Self that can create.
The Self is required for relationship, for love, for good.
Yet, too often for the “sake” of the self, ego is retained- narcissism clung to. Don’t bother with the philosophical debate which will spin on eternally. Instead, wrestle with this question- If I stop thinking about myself, promoting myself, defending myself will I know who I am?
Last Thursday I spent the day at Vanderbilt doing a host of tests- a bone marrow biopsy, ultrasound of the heart, lung capacity test, and PET Scan. It was a long day but not bad at all. Audrey was out on the road so my Dad came down from Indianapolis. He wheeled me around the hospital all day and drove me to a bar that night to watch the World Series. (We’re Cards fans) The bone marrow biopsy was uncomfortable, but not so bad. The worst part, honestly, was going without food/water from the night before until about 4pm. But, thankfully, I was able to sneak in a 6oz bottle of water in a short window when I was allowed to drink. It was delicious.
Today I went in for blood work and the complete diagnosis and prognosis. My bone marrow test was negative (meaning cancer-free) and I was diagnosed as Stage 2. This is good news. I think today was the first time that I’ve had an appointment and the diagnostic picture didn’t get worse. So thanks for your prayers.
In the meantime, I’ve been seeing a nutritionist and I’m on a pretty stringent diet. No sugar of any kind except for some fruits, no grains including rice and corn, no alcohol, high amounts of vegetables, probiotics and anti-oxidants. I’m allowing myself one coffee a week, on Sunday, and its the best tasting damn thing I could ask for.
This week I’m hoping to meet with a natural Oncologists to look at chemo alternatives. If there’s nothing there that gives me confidence, I’ll be starting a 6 month chemo regimen. Please keep praying that there is another way. Thank you.
The 53% tout the fact that they have worked hard to pay off their debts and maintain gainful employment by working hard and showing up to a job every day despite the fact that it isn’t their dream job.
The 99% are upset that they have been taken advantage of by…
On Monday Oct 10th, I spent my afternoon at Vanderbilt for my first meeting with my oncology team. My first impressions were very good. I understood the goals for the day and had what I felt was a thorough meeting with two Oncologists at Vandy.
I left that meeting excited about the care I was in and feeling that I was in a good position.
At the same time, I did receive disappointing news: The cancer is in fact, not relegated to a single lymph node- it is in at least two and possibly four. I will also be doing a bone marrow biopsy next week along with the PET Scan, a MUGA heart scan and a breathing capacity test. This all happens on Thursday Oct 20th. The following day I’ll do some blood work and get the results from those tests.
The hope at this point is that the cancer has not left the central region of my chest, that it is affecting only two lymph nodes and that it is not originating in my bone marrow. So please pray for that.
The Vanderbilt doctors are assuring me that chemotherapy is a certainty. This is, honestly, the worst part about the entire process. Chemo is miserable and incredibly destructive. I’ve decided to take seriously the possibility of alternatives to this care. My cancer is extremely slow growing; because of this, I’m inclined to try other methods of care before committing to chemo. But I’m getting a bit ahead of myself. Biopsy and PET Scan first, tough decisions later.
The other frustration at this point is financial administration. It is very difficult to get a good financial picture of what is coming. The hospital does not make it easy to plan ahead. Hopefully much of these costs can be absorbed over time. But it is becoming quickly apparent that this is not a cheap disease.
With the amount of information I’m consuming, the decisions to be made, financial uncertainty, recent move to Nashville and life going on regardless, I’ve found myself becoming much more stressed than I was a week ago. A big part of winning this battle is mitigating that stress as much as possible. I’m trying to take life one day at a time, get lots of sleep and set reasonable goals for myself. I’ve also started a strict diet to boost my immune system.
Audrey and I are still joyful. I’m sort of quickly dumping this info on this blog post. If it doesn’t sound characteristically joyful or peaceful, it’s just because I am writing quickly. Even as my stress escalates, we feel joyful, peaceful and grateful for life in all its offerings so far. Thank you for your prayers and concerns. We are better your presence.
“To want only simplistic sentimental stories is really to want to be lied to, and while there is no shortage in our age of those willing to lie to make a buck, the Christian artist, bound by his theology to see the world as it is, and sanctioned by his morality against deceiving anyone, cannot in good conscience join in.”
“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life, because almost everything - all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.”—Steve Jobs
On Saturday last weekend, I made this announcement on Twitter and Facebook:
It was a strange and surreal day; I had no symptoms other than a minor cough and I was sitting alone in a room with someone I’d never met , being told that I had cancer at 28. It’s odd enough; but having no fear in my reaction, stranger still. I wouldn’t say I was numb, but I wasn’t overcome by any dominant emotion. My best description of how I felt would be instinctive, instant resolve.
I’ve spent that last 3 days on the phone with family and friends, going over the experience again and again and explaining what I know so far. So I’ve decided to blog about the whole thing under the tag “cancer.” This way you can be kept informed even if I can’t get on the phone with you.
To start, Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is, as my brother so eloquently put it, the good cancer. It’s extremely treatable. For those of you who have seen the movie 50/50, don’t be afraid, I’m more like 99/1. If you’re going to research about it further, do so on the American Cancer Institute website, don’t just google around.
The disease is in a lymph node in my right lung (but it is not lung cancer.) It does not seem to be anywhere else, but I’ll be having a PET scan before I know for sure. At that point I’ll also know what stage I’m in and options for treatment.
We’re crossing ourselves in the hopes that I do not need chemotherapy. You can join with us in that prayer if you’d like. It would probably be a miracle, but we’re praying for it anyway. We’re also packing up our house today and moving to Nashville, TN so pray for smooth transition. I have to find all new doctors and treatment facilities, so I’m hoping that no red tape gets in the way.
A lot of good people in Phoenix, Nashville and everywhere have offered their support, of both the moral and material kinds. We are extremely grateful for you all.
So, this is where we’re at: Hopeful, fearless, happy and, as well, saddened. Audrey and I are among the lucky ones to experience this. However, that is not the full cause of our joy. The truth is, there is purpose in suffering. In suffering we are united to Christ on the cross. What greater gift can we return to the Lord but companionship in His passion?