I want to start by saying THANK YOU!!! I have been absolutely blown away by all of the comments on my website, emails, tweets, and Facebook posts to let me know you have been praying and thinking about me. I have been so encouraged by all of the love you have shown me. I am blessed! Thank you!!!
You may be wondering about the title “Cancer & Easter.” Let me assure you they are related in more than the obvious fact that I’m writing this on Easter Sunday and I’m writing about my experience of having surgery for my Prostate cancer.
If you missed my previous posts about my cancer, you can catch up with them at this link, if you like.
On Monday, April 7th, I had surgery to remove my Prostate due to the cancer that was diagnosed back in February. I’ll get right to the point. What should have been a routine, 2-hour surgery became a complicated 3.5-hour surgery. What should have been two to three days in the hospital turned into five. Needless to say, there were complications.
First of all, I love my surgeon and have even more respect for him now than I did before my surgery! The procedure I had is called a Radical Retropubic Prostatectomy. The goal of the surgery is to remove the cancerous Prostate gland and the surrounding lymph nodes while trying to do little or no damage to the nerves that surround the Prostate, which control male erectile function. The surgery is normally performed with very little blood loss from the patient. In my situation, however, I lost over 4 units of blood during the procedure. My blood count fell from 16 to 6.6. It seems I had been blessed with about ten times the normal amount of blood vessels surrounding the Prostate than most men have. Under different circumstances a surgeon would normally have cauterized the vessels to prevent bleeding, but there was no way he could cauterize them without destroying the very nerves he was trying to protect for me. Therefore, he had to cut the vessels and let me bleed while he did his delicate work. Another surgeon might have just seen the difficult situation and done what would have been easiest for him, justified it as what was safest for me, and sacrificed the nerves and my future ability to function. See why I love my surgeon?! He went above and beyond the call of duty to take the time to do the job right!
Despite the difficult operating conditions, the surgery was very successful. He was able to remove all of the cancerous Prostate and the lymph nodes and was successful at sparing the surrounding nerves! The nurses who assisted in the surgery told my floor nurse they were amazed at the patience and skill he used despite the adverse circumstances. The other great news is that my pathology results came back great, meaning I do not need to have any secondary radiation or chemotherapy!
Because of my blood loss and the resulting low blood pressure, I was not able to recover as fast as most patients. Usually, the nurses have you up and walking around the room later the same evening and then walking down the hall the morning after surgery. Because I got so light-headed and dizzy every time I sat up, I was not able to walk at all until Thursday night, three days later. By Friday morning, though I was still very weak, I was able to get around well enough to be discharged that afternoon.
Recovery here at home has been a day-to-day process and the first few days were very difficult. I’ve managed to regain quite a bit of my strength, but the low blood levels and blood pressure will take some time to come back to normal. As a result, my head feels “foggy” and my thinking is not as clear as I would like it to be–a hard thing for a writer to deal with! Nevertheless, I am making progress and my doctor told me I am recovering amazingly well. I just need to take it very slowly, and that is not something I’m used to doing!
So, by now you’re wondering about the connection between my cancer surgery, the complications, the frustrations, and Easter. This is actually a connection that was forming in my head while I was still in the hospital. I will admit to battling some depression and negative thinking while I have been going through all of this, and the connection is what has helped me turn it all around and find peace despite the circumstances.
The week leading up to Easter is often referred to as “Passion Week.” The word “passion” doesn’t mean what we normally think of. The word “passion” means “suffering,” in this context. During this week, Christ was betrayed by a close friend, arrested, tried unfairly, tortured, spat upon, mocked, humiliated, denied, abandoned, and ultimately murdered by crucifixion. From a human perspective, it just doesn’t get any worse than this, does it?
Also imagine what it was like to have been one of Christ’s disciples during this week. Despite the reasoning, pleading, and rebuking of your friends and family, you left everything you had and everyone you loved to follow this “teacher.” You saw him perform miracles and heard him teach and you even believed he was truly the Son of God, the Messiah who had come to save the world. You put, pardon the pun, all of your eggs in his basket! This week, you saw all you had believed destroyed and killed. This week, you wondered how you could have been so wrong to believe all he had taught. He was supposed to save us, not get killed like a common thief. It just wasn’t supposed to end like this, was it?
From our human perspective, we go through hard times. We get cancer, friends and family members die, people you trust lie to you and let you down, relationships you thought were supposed to last for ever get broken, our dreams get shattered. What we see in the Passion Week, however, is that even when things seem like they are falling apart, they are, actually, being intentionally set into place. What seems to be going wrong is going right. What seems to be not working out as planned is, in fact, working out exactly as it was planned. Do you see that?
Everything Christ suffered was all part of God’s perfect plan. Our lives are also part of that perfect plan! Because God has a plan and a purpose for each person on this planet, everything that happens to us–even if it is the result of our own decisions and sins–is part of God’s perfect plan for us. It doesn’t necessarily make the pain go away, but I have been able to find great comfort in the fact that what happens to me is not random, not capricious. While some things are very hard to understand, I find peace in knowing that I don’t need to understand. I just need to have faith in the One who made me and trust that He has a plan and nothing in this world, past, present, or future, is, or ever will be, out of His control.
My prayer is that you, too, will be able to see your life from this perspective. Your life is exactly what it is supposed to be at this moment. Trust the Creator of the universe with the details of your life. This is how you find that “peace that surpasses all understanding.”