Good-bye, 2013, it’s been very interesting, to say the least! The year started off well. I’m healthy. My weight is great, and I’m in pretty good shape for my age. Life at home and at work are going great. The year started out very positive.
But then in April, I was diagnosed with intermediate prostate cancer with Gleason score of 3-4. Well this is not what I expected at all. I didn’t feel bad. No symptoms. But when I had my annual physical, my doctor didn’t like my slightly increasing PSA level. Fortunately, he referred me to my wonderful urologist who took some biopsies and confirmed some suspicions. My cancer turned out to need definite attention, but it was very treatable. So here’s a little bit of what I’ve learned from 2013.
One can be deathly ill and not know it. In fact, one can be facing death while feeling great. Untreated, my cancer would only continue to grow, unnoticed, untreated, until some point at which treatment might be ineffective or not even optional. But to be so sick and feel fine is surreal. The bottom line: Go to the doctor! Have an annual physical! They are uncomfortable, but a few minutes of discomfort can save one’s life.
When the year started, I was notified by my insurance company that I was entitled to a colonoscopy and that it would be completely paid for as part of my wellness benefits. Oh good! So, I did, and it revealed that I have a very healthy colon. Not surprised, I’ve had no symptoms. The preparation wasn’t fun, but the procedure was not uncomfortable. It was a great nap! The point is, get checked out. Have your physical. If you have something, catch it while it’s early enough to treat it.
While my cancer treatments and my health dominated most of the year, I do not want you to be known as “my cancer year”. I certainly learned much more about cancer than I every thought I would. I never even dreamed that I would be a cancer patient. But I am. And I am reminded of how many people I encounter every day who are deathly ill with sin, but who don’t even know it. They don’t even realize they need to see the Physician. Left untreated, their illness will lead to eternal death. It’s up to me and all Christ-followers to tell them.
Stay close to those who matter and build friendships that are deep. One day, you’ll need them. My family is amazing. I have the most sacrificial and loving wife on the planet. She is the love of my life. She has always been beside me to support me through everything. She saw me through seminary. She has walked with me through trials and joys. She has always given of herself for the good of others. I’ve always known this. But the day I got my diagnosis, she became even more amazing. She became my strength and inspiration. She was my encourager and supporter. She is my prayer warrior. She went to every treatment, every doctor visit, every consult. She literally stood beside me (except during radiation ). Nor could I have asked for any stronger, more supportive, amazing children. My parents and extended family have all been prayerfully supportive. The people I work with have been tremendously supportive and understanding prayer warriors and encouragers. I am blessed with my amazing family and friends.
I don’t really have it so bad. During my treatments, we became friends with others who were struggling through cancer. I had a great prognosis. Most of them didn’t. I had symptoms before my treatment, and I’ve had very little side-effects since. Most of my new friends were struggling with symptoms and side-effects. I’m not taking any prescriptions, and I remain in overall good health. Not so with most of the ones I’ve met along this journey. When you think life has been unfair, just look around. You’ll discover just how blessed you are.
Life isn’t fair, get used to it. My life is short and I am promised and owed nothing. When one stares at the possibility of death within months or years, one changes. Things that once mattered now matter little. Things that I once took for granted now I hold as significant. I have purpose: to glorify God is everything I do, even in suffering and death. But while I am alive, my purpose is to make disciples of Jesus Christ, and that is what I have given my life to Him to do. I resolve to be stronger in my commitment and calling, to study my Bible with greater fervor, to use my brief time more wisely. By my judgment, life isn’t fair. But if that’s my focus, nothing will change. By God’s judgment, life isn’t fair, either. If it were, He would judge me according to what I really deserve. But because of His forgiveness through Jesus, He shows mercy. He withholds what I really deserve. Now, that’s not really fair, but I’m very glad!
So, am I sorry or sad to see 2013 go? Yes, and no. It represents a block of time I’ll never get back. But it also represents a block of time that reminds me of my mortality. And my immortality. Many good lessons. So, good-bye, 2013. You’ve given me many unique memories. You changed my life by reminding me of the One who totally changed my life forever! Looking forward to 2014!