Second Time Around

“Mom, I have cancer.”

My older son was older now — married with two small children and living in Florida. He was working as a painting contractor — physically fit and very active, soaking up that subtropical sun every day, and making a good living.

“It’s malignant melanoma.” The same cancer that had killed his dad.

Immediately I felt it — the gift of faith. It went klunk-klunk as God dropped it into my heart.

“It’s OK, son. You will get through this. God will make you completely whole. I know it.”
A promise from God. Fait accompli. Done deal.

He came through the surgery just fine, turning to the scriptures for sustenance. The people of God prayed, delivered meals, offered assistance.

In my son’s line of work if you don’t work, you don’t get paid. His boss made sure he never missed a paycheck.

Then came the tests and the waiting:

The first round (wait, wait, wait) looked good; the next round (wait, wait, wait), good.

The next round would display a 1 in 1,000,000 view of the cells. If there was 1 remaining cancer cell in 1,000,000 cells, this test would find it.

“Son, I’ve always known you are one-in-a-million, so don’t worry. I am absolutely confident there is no cancer left.”

That round (wait, wait, wait) looked good, too.

Then came the PET scans — one every year for five years.
Wait. Wait. Wait. Good.
Wait. Wait. Wait. Good.
Wait. Wait. Wait. Good.
Wait. Wait. Wait. Good.
Wait. Wait. Wait. Good.

Wait a minute! Didn’t God say from the beginning of this that He would make my son completely whole? YES!!

Did He do it? YES!!

How secure we are in Him! His promises are sure and true. Thank you, Jesus!

“Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” — Hebrews 11:1
“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? “ — Matthew 6:27

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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)

Wisdom Teeth

“They have to come out,” Dr. Reynolds informed us. “I’ll give you the name of a good oral surgeon.”

Two boys, eight wisdom teeth.

We met with the oral surgeon and scheduled the procedures. They would go to the hospital to have the teeth extracted under anesthesia. I don’t think they do that so much anymore, but that’s how they did it then.

Brave boys, 14 and 17, both over six feet tall, and ready to face whatever it was they had to face.

The first indication we had that this was going to be another adventure was while my daughter and I were observing the anesthetist.

Keep in mind that these were big boys, and not very knockout-able.

“Can you feel it?” the doctor asked. He was from India and had a definite accent.

“Can you feel it? Can you feel it now?”

“Can you feel it? Can you feel it yet?”

He continued to increase the anesthesia after each question. These boys were not giving up.

“Can you feel it now? Can you feel it?”

My older son finally started to drift off, but the younger one persisted.

“Can you feel it yet?”

“Nope.” Then he immediately conked out.

“I guess he felt it,” I remarked to my daughter.

They wheeled them into the Operating Room. In a little while, they wheeled them back out. We waited until they were awake enough to walk, then we put them in the car and headed for home.

I decided to set up their recovery room in the den on a queen-sized sleeper sofa. That way my daughter and I could keep a close eye on them. Oh, they were pitiful as they lay there side by side.

The nurses had wrapped them up in ice bags which wound under their chins, around their swollen jaws and tied neatly on the tops of their heads. They looked like cartoon characters!

We took pictures to capture the moment for posterity. They were not pleased. But you simply could not look at them without laughing.

For the most part things went well, and they healed from their surgeries, but then came the day when I stopped laughing.

I was opening the mail and received two bills (two boys, two bills) from the anesthesiologist. I was visibly aggrieved.

“What’s wrong?” my daughter asked.

“I can feel it. I can feel it now.”

“My mouth shall speak of wisdom; and the meditation of my heart shall be of understanding.”  — Psalm 49:3                          

                                                                                                                                                            

                            

The Foot of an Athlete

“Ew! What is that on your foot? Does it hurt? It must hurt. Is it itchy? I’ll bet it itches like crazy.”

“Mom! It’s fine. Just leave it alone,” my son protested.

“Nope. Can’t do it. We’re going to pray.”

And pray we did — for weeks. I asked him to keep it clean and dry, to wear only white socks, and to use medicated creams and powder. He did all of that, but it persisted. So we continued to pray.

My son, who refused to complain about physical ailments, always downplayed any infirmity. Like the time he had bronchitis.

The doctor prescribed several medications, including a cough syrup. While we were having them filled, he announced to his mother, the pharmacist and anyone else who would listen, “I’ll take the other stuff, but I’m not drinking any of that cough syrup.”

My son was 15, over 6 feet tall, and very opinionated. Why no cough syrup? I have not a clue. Maybe he was asserting his independence. Maybe he thought he was smarter than the doctor. Maybe he just didn’t like the taste. I don’t know, but he was adamant.

Didn’t he realize it was important to take an expectorant to help clear his chest? Didn’t he know bronchitis is serious business? Didn’t he know he was stepping on the very last nerve of his very concerned mother?

The very wise pharmacist, sizing up the situation, looked up at the boy and casually commented, “Big boy like you oughta drink it all down and lick the spoon.”

I was fascinated by the scene which began to play out before me. I watched the wind leave his sails as he acquiesced to the words and wisdom of the older man.

“OK,” he mumbled.

OK? OK? Was that all he had to say for his bluster and swagger, his thunder and bumptiousness? OK?

Well, OK. He took his medicine and recovered.

This foot thing was another matter, though.

This time there wasn’t a wise pharmacist to advise him, but a family praying for Him. And just like before, I was fascinated by the scene which began to play out before me. He chose to acquiesce to the words and wisdom, not of the older man, but of his heavenly Father. He chose to believe God for healing.

Weeks later we heard him shouting from the housetop, “It’s gone! It’s gone! I woke up this morning, and it’s gone!”

Sure enough his foot was completely healed. Healthy skin appeared where the infection had been. His foot was completely healed. It wasn’t a gradual “getting better.” It was a sensational “now you see it, now you don’t.”

He had waited a painful and itchy and long time, but his foot was completely healed. Faith was birthed in his heart, the sure and certain confidence of knowing that God is the Healer and that He had sent His healing virtue forth into the foot of a Tennessee teenager.

 
“He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart .”  — Isaiah 40:11 (NIV)