Tuesday, October 27, 2009

And then, everything looked different...

Ok, it's been a really long time since I've posted, but just about all of you should know the reason for this by now. Nonetheless, I thought I'd give a little summary in case there was any confusion.

In the middle of September I had surgery to remove an enlarged lymph node from the area under my left arm. The pathology of the lymph node revealed that the growth was malignant and was diagnosed as non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a type of cancer. Further tests revealed a complete diagnosis: stage 4 diffuse large B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma. This type of lymphoma, I have been told, is of the aggressive type, which means that it grows quickly. However, I've also been told that this type of lymphoma is very treatable (i.e. it responds well to treatment - which, if it had the possiblity of virtue, would make somewhat virtuous, I guess) and that the treatment is well-developed and proven to be effective. Together, what this means is that treatment should (and will) start soon (very soon).

Beyond having to tell my family that I have cancer, the hardest part about all of this so far has been trying to describe how this diagnosis has affected me; because it seems that my reaction to this news has been decidedly less desperate (??? if that is even a good word to describe it) than everyone else's so far. Somehow, within all of this, it has never occurred to me that this is the end of anything, which (from my perception, at least) is contrary to how others have reacted to this news. I've tried for weeks now to make sense of this fact. Fundamentally, it seems, there is a very simple, yet very real answer. The reality of this disease is that it is not the end of anything. Every doctor whom I've talked to has assured me that there is a way out of this. And so, in a very real way, there is no reason to entertain any thoughts resembling despair. Looking at the wider picture, the reality of this situation is one that oftentimes we'd all like to forget; that is, that we really aren't in control of everything that happens to us. If we can recognize that there is someone, much greater than us, who is in control of all things, and if we can recognize that this someone loves us more deeply than anyone else does or is able to (including ourselves), then we can approach situations such as these with a spirit of docility, infused with hope by the one who cares for us so deeply, knowing that we are not and will not be left alone. Hope is the reality of all of this.

That having been said, what has overwhelmed me the most in all of this is the incredible expression of concern that so many have expressed. With every expression of sympathy, I see such a deep sorrow that I would have to suffer any such hardship. With every offer of assistance, I see such a deep desire to suffer with me, to take part of this burden from me. This is, in its truest and most real sense, a manifestation of Jesus Christ, the love of the Father, living in each of you. For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son... Your eyes of compassion are the eyes of Christ looking on me and telling me, I love you and I would rather suffer everything than to see you suffer, even for a moment. Because of this I know that, more than anyone, God does not desire me to suffer. Yet, he has chosen me for this moment, just as he chose his Son to suffer and die so that we might be saved. And so, what more could I do than pray as Christ prayed, Father, if it is your will, let this cup pass from me; yet not my will, but rather may yours be done.

And so, it is with impossible hope, hope that could only come from outside of me, that I take up this cross. Yet I know that I do not carry it alone. Each of you has already put your hand to this cross in every prayer and in every offer of assistance that you have given me. You have helped me to see Christ living here with me and to come to know his love in a way that I have been blind to for so long. Thank you. My prayer is that each of you will know that God's love is real and that you will come to know that love profoundly in your own lives. Ad majorem Dei gloriam. Amen.