I can talk now, and I can write about it! From September to December last year, I experienced what many people have experienced when told that you may have Cancer.
I want to share part of my journey, dealing with uncertainty, waiting days and weeks, scans, biopsy, and to see the hand of the Lord on all this. I realise people I know are going through this, and I hope you are encouraged.
I had two MRI scans, one on my lower back and the other to look for signs of cancer in my prostate. I have heard so many people telling me about their experiences going through it that I was somehow familiar with it. You are laid down on a mobile bed that moves inside the “big tube”. It was noisy and very hot. The nurses were fantastic, and I had headphones to listen to the best of Mozart. On my second scan, I had a drip on my left arm.
I drove to the hospital, and I was anxious. This was different, and it was not a pastoral visit. I was the patient. I parked the car and walked to the MRI and X-Ray reception. I handed my letter, and I was on time, but I don’t remember being aware of the time. My mind was racing back and forth with so many possible scenarios of this MRI’s outcome.
My appointment was at 17:30, and I did not know how long it would last. My first scan was long, almost forty-five minutes, but I was unsure about this one. I realised I was not alone. There were other men waiting and others arriving. Some of them were my age, and some others were older.
There was a silent conspiracy in the waiting room. We acknowledge one another with head movement and a whisper of “Hi”. Honestly, there was no need to say a word. We all knew why we were there, and in the strangest way I was connected to them, I did not feel alone.
The nurse came and asked me to follow her; she gave me a hospital gown, I changed, and a drip was inserted into my right arm. I sat and waited until she called me and explained what was happening. Then, she gave me a set of headphones to keep me distracted and, in a way, protected from the loud noise of the scan.
I drank some water, and I laid down; then it moved me inside the scan, and the noise began at the same time as the music on my earphones began to play. I tried to relax I did the best I could. I tried to pray, and that was a battle. Then, suddenly, and naturally, my mind was filled with all the different outcomes of the scan.
“So if my prostate is enlarged, do I need surgery? If I have cancer, at my age? I am not ready for this, not now, not ever! If I do, how will I tell my wife, kids, friends, and church…If I do, what can of treatment do I need? My family record with cancer is very negative!! Please, God, not now! Memories of my mum telling me that she did not want to die with cancer came to mind, so many emotions, so many different outcomes and one reality: I did not know yet!
I was feeling up my mind with “what ifs scenarios”, and it was ok; it was normal.
However, I had to wrestle with the concept of pain and suffering and realising that possibly this could become my reality. It was at that point inside the MRI scan is when I prayed a simple prayer “Lord, let your grace be enough to carry me through this.”
This didn’t mean that the “what if stopped” they increased after the day of the MRI scan, and they became louder in my mind, yet the Grace of God was also present and growing. As I lay down with all the noise and the music coming out of the earphones, I remember the words of Psalm 23, a psalm that I share with those who are ill. The words of the psalm became my hope. I was being directed and comforted by the one who held the Rod and the Staff.
“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”(Psalm 23:1–6 ESV)
Why Am I sharing this? First, I want you to get and make an appointment with your doctor. Second, having gone through this, I have a more profound empathy for those with cancer and their journey. Third, it is a journey that involves families and friends. Finally, my biopsy came back clean, and I am so thankful for so many who prayed for my family and me.