You may be a follower of my blog and are already aware of this fact, but late last summer, the pastor of my church (Andy McQuitty of Irving Bible Church) was diagnosed with cancer. To say I had some strong feelings about his diagnosis may be putting it lightly. If you want to experience my anger, you can read my original post here.
I am happy to say that Andy's health has improved and this week he sent out an email with an update on his progress. I am also happy to say that I have resolved my initial anger and know that God's plan is bigger and more complicated that I can begin to comprehend. My faith has been tested these past few months but I am stronger because of the struggles he lets me experience.
I have attached Andy's email below so that you can read in his own words, how he is doing...
February 1, 2010
So many of you dear friends have kindly inquired lately about my health.
That’s in contrast to many others of you dear friends who, because I’ve been so reprehensibly tardy in communicating to you about my present pitched combat with cancer, have been aggravated with me for not telling you more. Actually, you’ve been quite p’oh’d, and with good reason, but we need not belabor such descriptions).
So, to respond clearly to the first group of you, and to help the second group of you avoid getting an apoplectic fit or worse, here’s a little update.
I am doing better than anybody thought I would be at this point, my medical team and myself included. God’s grace is all over this thing. No, I’m not “out of the woods”, but I won’t ever be this side of glory. That’s not even the point.
What I am, post the second surgery on December 14, is free of any discernible cancer tumors or conglomerations of cancer cells. And I am two treatments into a twice per month for the next year round of chemotherapy infusions that we’re praying God will use to actually eradicate all the rest of those little cancer bast**** cells from my otherwise hunky 54-year old body. (I have cancer and therefore consider myself entitled to these little self-deceptions).
A bit more about that second surgery in December. That only happened because, after four months of chemo, a PET scan in November showed that not only had my stage IV cancer NOT spread to liver and lungs (as had been most likely), but the cancer-infested lymph node which we had previously identified had actually SHRUNK by 80%. From my doctor’s reaction to that good news, I am convinced that this was nothing less than the handiwork of God in response to the faithful prayers of many.
At that time, my doc’s wanted to go in and take that bad lymph node out. They reasoned that, since it was the only remaining tumor, we should yank it, zap the rest of me with chemo and actually start praying hopefully for a cure. As that was the first time since my diagnosis that Alice and I had actually heard a doctor utter the “c” word, we signed on.
My surgeon gave me fair warning that this second surgery, unlike the first, could not be endoscopic (just a small incision and three small puncture wounds from which to recover). It was too deep and the “real estate” it would be invading (the bad node was actually touching my aorta, which you might remember is a fairly important piece of circulatory plumbing) too delicate. They would have to operate the “old-fashioned way” (think flayed like a fish), opening a seven-inch incision and going down through the abdominal muscles and past several of my favorite internal organs to the target destination. The doctor said I’d be in the hospital for at least a week and in serious recuperation for six to eight weeks.
Well, all I can say is that God’s grace was all over that little procedure too. I went home from the hospital after 3.5 days and, after 11 days, was on the IBC platform in both Christmas Eve services reading the children’s story and generally making merry and showing off my scar—22 staples—to all who could stand to gawk at it. (And a week after that, I was punching some easy pitching wedges off the practice tee. Now just try to tell me that’s not the hand of God?!)
So here we are now, post-surgeries, “mopping up” (my oncologist’s term) the remaining cancer cells in my body. Of course nothing is certain, but all the indicators are hopeful that the Lord is undertaking through all of this to keep me on the planet for a good while longer. I’m grateful for that.
Yes, the chemo is still hard to take. Especially in the first 4 or five days after an infusion, I’m pretty slammed. But then I start feeling better and get up and running for the next six or seven days. I’ll take that, and gratefully. Thank God that He’s letting good weeks alternate with the hard ones. I know lots of dear souls who never get a break.
So this is my new normal for the next 12 months. I’m hopeful because this time around the chemo barn, we know the treatments are working and that there’s a finish line out there. And I’m determined to make the most of the year in getting back into more and more ministry at IBC because now, with God’s continued help and the prayers of you all (the pager is still going nuts!), I know I can.
And not just that: at Alice’s insistence I’m eating healthy (-ier?) and working out and that’s making things better too. My family is doing well, and we are moving forward together with the settled assurance that everything that our lives and futures are in God’s hands—which is a very good place for anyone to be.
In other words, I am still in the land of the living and planning on staying there for quite some time to come, God willing (or to put it more succinctly, “I’m fine, thanks!). . .
Love you all,
P.S. And please, no emails about the two instances in this note I implied bad words. I have cancer, don’t bug me. Love, EAM