A Personal Note: Cancer & Easter

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! I was very glad that I had a male surgeon as this kind of procedure does come with a little embarrassment, especially during those post surgery consultations. Not many people have a choice in the gender of their surgeon, except if you opt for private healthcare. Those having plastic surgery can choose to have a breast augmentation with a female plastic surgeon for example, which I’m sure they are also thankful for due to their knowledge of female aesthetics too. 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 if this is impacted in any way the patient suffering from erectile dysfunction would have to look into erectile medications from the likes of Blink Health to perform properly once more. 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! I know that I am incredibly lucky, but it’s not always the same for everyone else. Many people might continue to have to deal with their cancer after this surgery. My heart goes out to these people. I can only hope that they are surrounded by loving friends and family members though. And as a side note, if you know anyone who is currently having to deal with cancer, then please make sure that you are there for them. You could even go on a site like HelpThemFight.com to help them out. Even just being with them as they get chemo could have a huge impact on them.

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.”

Happy Easter!

14 Responses to A Personal Note: Cancer & Easter

  1. Rachael April 21, 2014 at 12:26 AM #

    You have NO idea how much I needed this reminder tonight! Hardest week of my life was the previous one..my faith is not dead however, bit continuing to be strengthened through His grace. Thx for sharing this part of your journey,
    Rachael @ http://www.parentingandhomeschoolinginfaith.com

  2. Samuel Mahaffy April 21, 2014 at 12:59 AM #

    Wishing you peace and healing.

  3. Arwa April 21, 2014 at 2:36 AM #

    Thank god you recovered from the surgery and you doing well, my friend tell me about your blog and asks me to pray for you while you’re in surgery, I’m blessed to know such a pure soul like you, possitive, full of live and brave, I’m touched by these powerful words and you show us that the life is worth living after all.
    Thanks and happy Easter too

  4. Chris @ BuffDaddio.com April 21, 2014 at 6:35 AM #

    Awesome news Bruce! And it says it all that while you were recuperating you were thinking of how to turn this whole thing into an analogy to help other people be happy – you’re some fella!
    All the best from ‘sunny’ Ireland,

  5. Charles April 21, 2014 at 7:12 AM #

    You are an inspiration in spite of your personal adversity. I don’t know you personally but am engaged, informed and motivated by your daily tweets. I hope that God heals you so that you can enjoy your family for decades to come and so that you can continue to spread the good where it is needed, right here on Earth, Charles 🙂

  6. Jide April 21, 2014 at 1:28 PM #

    By His stripes you are healed. By the grace of God you are growing from strength to strength.

  7. Luis Wintergerst April 21, 2014 at 10:27 PM #

    Dear Bruce…. Thanks for your thoughts, that are amazingly lucid, taking in consideration the closeness of your operation. I thank Jesus, for the grace given to you to be in such good conditiion after all this brutal operation. May God be with you, and avoid getting Acidic blood.
    Keep up the spirit. Regards, Luis W.

  8. Brian (@Cledawgs) April 22, 2014 at 9:31 AM #

    Prayers and friendship!


  9. Colin April 22, 2014 at 12:00 PM #

    Beautifully written Bruce, proud of ya n well done for bein so great 🙂 x

  10. Melinda Viergever Inman April 24, 2014 at 12:09 PM #

    Praising God for a doctor who did what was best for you, not most expedient for him! I was praying for you that day. I’m still praying for you. God bless you, Bruce!

  11. Sandy Grey May 1, 2014 at 12:40 PM #

    AWESOME!! Bruce thank you for your thoughts here…you just followed me on twitter and I thought I would just click to check you out…never have time usually..but as you say God had his plan for us from the beginning…and he made me connect here for a purpose..could be to help someone later today …he is the only one that knows. God Bless You always and wishing you a speedy recovery.

  12. RIka Susan May 17, 2014 at 11:48 AM #

    Have just read your post, Bruce. Thanks for sharing your story here in such an inspirational way.

    I have been housebound with debilitating ME for almost 35 years. What you say here is exactly how I am looking at my challenging journey over so many years. There is huge comfort in KNOWING that God has been in control every step of the way and that it is all part of His perfect plan for me.

    And in Hebrews 11 there is the wonderful illustration that, even when God in His wisdom doesn’t rescue us from difficult circumstances, He promises to sustain us day after day. It is not about how much or how little faith I have, but about God’s sovereign plan for me.

    May you continue to have a profound awareness of sustaining grace.

    If you wish, you can read my story here (hope it’s okay to give a link)

  13. Columba Lisa Smith May 18, 2014 at 5:58 PM #

    Awesome post! I can relate these past 14 years; I really need to remember this message. Prayers for your healing, and thanks for sharing this.

  14. Sharryn May 27, 2014 at 7:49 PM #

    Bruce your story touched my heart. You have a gift to be able to write from your heart and experience that resonates with people. Thank you.

    I am so glad you’re on the mend and staying the course with Hebrews 12! Have you considered attending a meeting where the Spirit of God is healing people? I have witnessed the power of God to heal, there is nothing like being in the anointing where it happens. Someone like Benny Hinn for example.

    My desire for you is like John wrote to Gaius, “I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.