Not Your Standard MasterMind Email
Not Your Standard MasterMind Email
In case you’re among the few folks who didn’t know why I was even grumpier than usual over the past several weeks, here’s a brief outline. Late in June, I had my yearly physical with a new doctor. Based on lab results, he scheduled a CT scan of my abdominal organs. Everything showed up normal and healthy except for a 1.1cm spot in my lower left lung and four smaller spots in my right lung. A second CT scan on November 1, and focusing specifically on my lungs, showed the mass in my left lung having grown to 1.2cm. On November 9, both my doctor and the radiologist expressed serious concern over the mass and ordered an expedited full-body PET Scan to determine where in my body the cancer had come from. (Apparently, for non-smokers, the overwhelming majority of lung cancers that show up simultaneously in both lungs have metastasized from other affected organs by which time, the survival rate is not so encouraging). They were also able to schedule me an expedited appointment with a pulmonary surgeon.
Needless to say the last few weeks have been a roller coaster. As someone who identifies as a believer in God, I’ll admit to struggling mightily with doubt. Primarily, I didn’t feel ready to abandon my wife of 43 years. For several days, my home was a place of doom and gloom. About five days in, I was re-introduced to the verse above and it became perhaps the primary stabilizing factor in my life for those next weeks. Another incredible source of encouragement was knowing that a lot of people were praying for me. I don’t believe in prayer as a magician’s tool to manipulate God but I do believe He instructs us to pray and I do believe He answers those prayers.
On Tuesday, the 16th, I spent half a day at Baylor Diagnostic Imaging. The waiting room was a dismal place filled with people who were there to confirm their worst fears. I was particularly disheartened by two young women in their 30’s. Due to their age, they most likely had small children and a worried husband at home. After being infused with radio-active dye and spending 90 minutes in a PET Scan tube not much wider than my shoulders, the radiologist had scanned my entire body from head to toe. No amount of persuasion from me could coax even a hint of the results from the him.
On Wednesday, the 17th, I met with the Pulmonary Surgeon, a very proper Indian gentleman with an impressive array of diplomas on his wall. He pulled up the results of the PET scan on his large computer monitor and said, “I want to show you something very important here. I want to show you why both doctors are mistaken.” Something got stuck in my throat and I could not ask him to repeat that statement but he spent the next 45 minutes schooling me on lung cancer, CT Scans and PET Scans. He assured me, using the PET Scans as visuals, that I had no cancer in any other organ and that the tumor in my left lung is either non-cancerous (being distorted to look like a malignant tumor by the high pressure air from my C-Pap machine) or that if it is cancerous, it’s a “something-something-carcinoma” which grows exceedingly slowly and which he will simply cut out if it has expanded when I return in six months. Moreover, he assured me that the survival rate for that particular hard-to-pronounce cancer is over 90%. Somewhere in Plano, Texas, there is a very prim and proper five-foot-tall, 160 lb. Indian doctor still recovering from the psychological trauma of having a large, fat, white guy lift him off the floor and hug him for a full 30 seconds.
What Did I Learn?
I learned that life on Earth is far more fragile than we think. There’s no guarantee we will wake up tomorrow so we better let people know we love them today. I learned that despite a secularized society, I still somehow have a LOT of friends who believe in God and are committed to praying for people in need – even the occasionally obnoxious people like me. And most important, I learned that it is possible to cease striving and know God’s presence even in the scariest of roller coaster rides. If you’re reading this, I care deeply about you or you never would have received a copy of this email. I hope you gain some valuable understanding from my recent experiences.
to All of You
Try not to butt heads with your family members who just don’t know what tastes good. And, remember, Pecan Pie is God’s compromise between Vegans and Carnivores.
“The truth is, of course, that what one regards as interruptions are precisely one’s life.”
– C. S. Lewis