Thursday, January 18, 2007


Is it terminal? How long do they expect you to live?
Again, no idea. Because of the rarity of this kind of growth in a person my age, there are very few statistics to give a guide as to average life expectancy or likely progression of the cancer and its responsiveness to treatment. Even if there were a larger body of statistics, all they can tell you are averages and likelihoods based on those somewhat similar to you. Every cancer is different and so is every individual response. Many doctors do not think that speaking in terms of so many years or months to live is particularly helpful in any case as it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Indeed, having a hopeful outlook can improve your chances. I am hopeful not because I think Christians are impervious to sickness, but because I hope in the God who raises the dead. Each day, each breath is a gift from the one who made everything and is able to sustain me as long as he desires.

Why do we need a doctor's permission to live or die? I will depart when my Lord calls me, not before. I pray and hope that is later, rather than sooner. I have no desire to die, no secret deathwish. Death is a bad thing, though it is not the worst of all possible things and in Christ, I need have no fear - not because he promises to keep me alive, but because he will accept what I entrust to him and raise me up into his new world one day.

Having said all that, initial indications seem to be that treatment is being effective. My breathing has improved significantly after just the first few weeks of chemotherapy. My oncologist's response when I asked if the chemo could be working so soon: "Chemo or prayer - I don't really care, as long as it works!". He seems quite upbeat about my chances and speaks in terms of "going for broke" and "curative doses" of radiotherapy. I take them as good signs for the moment - and keep praying!
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