Happy Birthday!

My son was rubbing and pointing at a spot on his lower leg in the front, in that hollow just between the leg and the foot.

“Mom, look at this thing on my leg. What is that?”

“I don’t know. Does it hurt?”

“Yeah, a little, but not really. You know?”

“It looks like a wart, but if it hurts, we should have it looked at.”

We watched it for several weeks, and it got bigger.

I asked a retired doctor at my church to have a look at it.

His advice was, “Yes, that probably needs to come off. A dermatologist could take care of that. No, I think I’ll send you to a surgeon … just to be safe.”

We went through all the appointments and rigamarole required. The surgeon removed the spot. He thought it was probably scar tissue from a mosquito bite, but he sent it to pathology … just to be safe.

A few weeks later we received a call from the doctor to come in for the test results. My son was working downtown, so he said he would just drop by the office. I didn’t need to come.

When he came in from work that day, I asked him how the appointment went.

“Great! He said I have cancer, and I need an operation to cut out a larger portion to make sure they get it all.”

“Cancer?” I gulped.

“Yeah,” he answered. “Look, Mom. Here’s the way I see it. If they don’t get it all, I’ll die and go to be with Jesus. And if they do get it all, I’ll keep living right here on earth with Jesus. Now what’s for dinner?”

Well, he had a point. He was so sure in his beliefs, so certain of the God he served. He didn’t doubt for a minute that his Father had everything completely under control.

We scheduled the surgery and took him in to have a larger excision and skin grafts to close what would be a rather large wound … on his 19th birthday.

My son was a studious kid, a scholar, a deep thinker. He stayed at home to work after high school graduation. He wanted to take a year off to decide what direction to take. While his peers were entering college that fall, he was having cancer surgery.

It had been a difficult diagnosis. The surgeon had to send the original sample to the National Cancer Institute because he was unable to identify it — malignant squamos cell carcinoma.

His recovery was painful – not from the excision so much as from the skin grafts. They were on his thigh and burned like, well, like a burn.

My son was not the best patient in the world. When we learned that they had indeed gotten all the cancer and everything looked good (Thank you, Jesus!), he reverted to being a teenager again.

When friends called or came to visit, I breathed a sigh of relief. Let them deal with him. I was at the point of throwing him raw meat and slamming the door.

At times, though, he was quite comical – especially in trying to work out the logistics of life when he was in pain, on crutches and by himself. Like the time he decided to fix a sandwich and a glass of milk.

He made it to the kitchen just fine. He prepared a beautiful sandwich and poured the milk. Placing sandwich in one hand and milk in the other, he proceeded to “crutch” back into the den.

Oops! That’s not going to work. The sandwich stayed together, but the milk flew out of the glass and onto the floor. Have you ever noticed that if you spill a cup of milk, it seems like a gallon when you try to clean it up? Well, he noticed it right away that day.

He finally solved the problem by putting the sandwich in a plastic bag and the milk in a leakproof container and throwing them into the den. Quite the engineer, that one!

A year later he was enrolled in college in Florida. His surgery had healed and resembled a large dent in the front of his leg – sort of what it would look like if the impression had been made by a softball thrown really hard. Friends were curious and asked him what happened.

“Cancer surgery,” he told them.

“Yeah. Right. So what really happened?”

“Shark bite.”

“Yeah, man. That can be really tough.”

“But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings … “ – Malachi 4:2 (KJV)


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