On June 3rd some 15.5 million Americans will be celebrating the fact that they have survived. Rejoicing they are among those who have been given the life-altering news that they have faced cancer, but have endured and overcome.
National Cancer Survivors Day is a day of celebration, inspiration, support, and outreach. We celebrate the survivors, inspire those recently diagnosed, support families, and reach out to communities with resources letting others know there is a thriving community of cancer survivors.
On this National Cancer Survivors Day, 2018, our Medi-Share family honors one such survivor: Christian Care Ministry Senior Director of Marketing and Communications, Scot Law. Here is Scot’s story:
“I remember going into surgery to remove my tumor.
As I was lying on the surgical table in my gown, the coldness of the room and the brightness of the theater lights stood out. The nurses busily carried out their duties while the anesthesiologist prepped for things on the other side of the room.
My surgeon, Dr. Murray, walked up, put his hand on my arm, and talked calmly to me about how he anticipated things going.
"We won't know how things are, and how embedded the tumor is, until we go in there," he said. I reached my right hand on top of his, looked him in the eye, and said, "Doc, take care of me. I just want to be able to kiss my wife and hug my girls again."
While in the hospital later that week, I woke up to use the restroom. As I sat in the loo, I heard weeping coming from the other side of the wall. The patient next door had been given a terminal diagnosis, hospice had been called in, and the wife and children were overcome with grief.
I headed back to bed, and a moment later my surgeon came into the room. He told me and my wife, Kathy that I had Stage 3 colorectal cancer.
I again heard the wife crying next door, realizing she will no longer have her husband as a companion.
My doctor explained more about what to expect with chemo. Just then, a life flight helicopter landed outside my window bringing someone gravely injured to the hospital. My mind was transported to my childhood when my mom was on a life flight and was pronounced dead at the very hospital I sat in.
I was brought back to the present as my doctor asked if I had any questions, but all could I hear were the whirling helicopter blades that reminded me of my mom dying there and then the heart wrenching sound of grief echoing in the hospital halls.
Death is seemingly all around; it is next door, potentially in the helicopter outside, and possibly in my own body.
The doctor left. Kathy and I were in shock, wrestling with mortality. The nurse came in to give me meds and asked what my doctor had to say. It was the first time I had to utter the words out of my mouth: "He said I had cancer.”
I broke down and wept uncontrollably, and I couldn't say anything more. My mind was like the whirling blades outside, endlessly spinning but taking me nowhere in particular.
"Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to the skillful; but time and chance happen to them all. For no one can anticipate the time of disaster. Like fish taken in a cruel net, and like birds caught in a snare, so mortals are snared at a time of calamity, when it suddenly falls upon them." Ecclesiastes 9:11-12
A month later I began chemotherapy that lasted several months. During this process, there was so much going on. So many tubes filled with drugs, it seemed that each of the tubes carried new emotions that were being pumped into my body.
My internal workings felt like a giant emotional gumbo, the ingredients of which were unknown to me. I was ready for this fight, but I still had to remember to breathe.
It was not long after that I grew tired of feeling. It seemed my "Feeler" was worn out from overuse and I was weary from all of the emotions. There are times when you feel so much that you are unable to feel for a time. You enter a new reality where you sense feeling, but are unable to embrace it.
The numbness is the norm. It's like each emotion is a sedimentary layer, stacking upon each other, until it all presses together and hardens. I became desensitized to the enormity of feeling.
"But I pray to you, O Lord, in the time of your favor; in your great love, O God, answer me with your salvation. Rescue me from the mire, do not let me sink; deliver me from those who hate me, from the deep waters."
Through my cancer journey I have come to realize that pain is less of a problem and much more of a gift. Pain is a reminder that I am alive and I will yet live. In our Helicopter Parenting world, we are afraid of our children getting their feelings hurt, so the powers-that-be in our sports leagues give out participation trophies.
Listen, one of the best lessons I learned as a child was to touch the coils on the stove when it was on. The “gift” of the pain that surged through my fingers into my nerve endings and quickly to my brain caused me to never do that again. I have never had to relive that pain because I was gifted with that unfortunate pain as a child.
I have learned something key – I believe God gifted me with an ability to face difficult, emotional experiences head on. I don’t relish the thought of facing the task, but I don’t worry about it.
Through the junk that life has thrown at me, I have learned to put one foot in front of the other and keep moving forward. I don’t deny the feelings during the struggle. No, I press into the feelings, because I know they won’t go away immediately. And through each step, each breath, each moment in time, I choose to trust God that He is going to take care of me.
“I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” Psalms 27:13
In “Finding Nemo,” the character of Dory so perfectly illustrates what I’m talking about. Dory has a famous line where she says, “Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming.” When I think of my life, I see Dory. I see an innate desire to keep swimming, no matter the tide or undertow.
Just keep swimming and something good will come. It has to. It must.
Psalm 57 is David, the Psalmist, the man after God’s own heart, hiding in a cave, with King Saul and others wanting to kill him. There he was, this great man, burrowed up in a cave, crying out to God, seeking solace and peace, all while seeming to be so far away from his destiny. Yet, his destiny required of him to go through the darkness in order for him to find the light of his destiny.
In Psalm 4:1, the Psalmist declares, “You have enlarged me when I was in distress.”
God has allowed me to face this pain and I am choosing to view it as a gift to enlarge my very soul. We must choose to see any pain we go through as refining and not defining. If we would all do this, there would be less bitterness and resentment, and more hope and joy in the world.
May each of you come to realize that God is with you in your pain, in your time of trouble, and that through it all, as you trust in Him, he will shine on you after the storm has passed.
It's been two years ago, this week, when I had the tumor removed from my colon. I am proud to say that I am N.E.D (No Evidence of Disease) and am a Cancer Overcomer! Although the process was ugly, the beauty is found in being cancer-free and having a new lease on life. To God be the glory for the things He has done.