WW: Say a Little Prayer for My Bro'
Below is something he wrote a few months ago for his weekly newspapers and which I shared previously, but I thought this might be a good time to share it once again:
Last week, careful readers will have noticed, Yours Truly skipped his weekly assignment of penning this little column, which is something I try to accomplish each Monday morning. (Careless readers may not have noticed, because the usual space was filled in with a “re-run” from months gone by… just like the TV networks do!)
It was the first time I missed my deadline in over three years. I do not have a good excuse.
I guess, if I was a “dream-up-excuses” sort of guy, I could come up [with] one. I was, after all, strapped down to an operating table, undergoing a bit of brain surgery.
But that’s really no excuse. I’ve undergone similar surgeries two other times in the last couple of years, and I managed to meet the deadline for my column both of those times!
So no excuses. I’ll try to do better in the future, although there admittedly may be some new challenges ahead.
Back in August of 2008, when I first underwent surgery to remove a malignant brain tumor, I promised to keep you posted of my progress, much as my friend Jerry Fowler had done during his illness a couple of years earlier. He shared his personal battle with cancer each week, and helped a lot of people along the way.
I guess I’m just not as disciplined as Jerry was, because, try as I might, I can’t seem to work my health picture into my column but once or twice a year. There have, however, been some recent developments, and I thought I’d share them with you.
I won’t try to give you all the background on the melanoma that I was first diagnosed with in 1983, or the recurrence in the summer of 2008 that briefly impacted my communication skills. I will instead refer you to this column, which is now posted online as a blog at www.rodshealy.com. (Just go back to August, 2008, and you can read all about it.)
When we last updated my condition here (last November), I mentioned that I had chosen the treatment route of “clinical trials”… still-experimental treatments which have not yet been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Although the my first round of trials -- an experimental vaccine designed to boost my immune system -- officially showed no response, there is some evidence that a partial response was achieved. In other words, some success, perhaps.
While searching for the next clinical trial, however, I was delayed by what appears to be multiple new recurrences of the melanoma in various areas: several spots in the lungs, where we already knew there was at least one large tumor; nine lesions in the brain, which were treated by gamma-knife last Monday at MUSC; and a number of brand new melanoma tumors in areas which do not appear to threaten any organs.
A biopsy of the large tumor in the lung, however, which had tested positive for cancer last June, suddenly came back negative, just a couple weeks ago. Hence, the possible partial success, perhaps.
As of now, I am scheduled to begin a new round of clinical trials next week. I’ll try to keep you posted better than I have been doing.
In the meantime, I am blessed to have no real side effects or disabilities, and am able to continue to work my normal schedule… with the obvious exception of last Monday, when I missed my deadline.
It’s also a good time for me to reflect a bit.
Given my several brushes with cancer, my odds of still being here are not good. In 1983, I was given a 35% chance of surviving five years. In 2008, my odds of making it through were described as maybe one in a thousand. And the couple of recurrences since then have been…well, let’s just say alarming to the technicians reading my scans. (You can always see it in their eyes!)
Still, here I am, starting on my next streak of writing a column every week for three years without missing a single one. I hope.
There are a few things I’ve learned through these experiences of the last two years.
First, none of the medical professionals and researchers can tell us what makes these cures and treatments work sometimes and not work other times. They’re striving to find out, but they just don’t know.
Secondly, a lot of really smart people – doctors, scientists, researchers – seem to think the “power of prayer” has a lot to do with it. I’m glad, because I think it has everything to do with it. When word of my diagnosis was revealed two years ago,
I was humbled by the number of prayer groups who helped me – friends and acquaintances, and total strangers alike. They prayed for me, and I assume that’s why I’m still here.
Although I’ve personally never stopped talking to Jesus about it, I do notice that our chats become a little more fervent and frequent each time I get a diagnosis with a new set of challenges. I’m praying as hard as I can, but I sure do appreciate those extra prayer-words from others (because yours might be the one that works!)
Thirdly, whatever my future holds is okay with me. It’s a great life, and I love this life, but I’ve certainly had my fair share of it -- probably more than my share -- so when my time comes, it comes. In my prayers, incidentally, I always address that exact point: I simply ask Jesus to use me as is His will. If that means going to Heaven sooner rather than later, then that’s what I’m ready for. After all, it’s not this life that really counts… it’s the next one. I believe. I am saved. And I am ready.