Faith and Cancer

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)

I awoke at 3:30 this morning to a dark, quiet, peaceful house.  As I lay in bed, drowsily assessing my condition, I slowly realized that for the first time in over a week I had no pain and no nausea.  I was a little thirsty and knew I should sit up and drink some water…hydration is very important right now…but chose, instead, to simply lie still for another hour.  Sitting, swallowing, even moving could easily lead to pain or nausea, and I wanted just another hour simply enjoying the peaceful pleasure of being free of both, no matter how temporary.  So, I lay peacefully still, thankfully pain free, reflecting on how recently this was my norm.

To put it in proper perspective, you have to understand how healthy I was prior to my cancer diagnosis in December.  I had so few prior health issues the nurses acted skeptical of my correct completion of the various new-patient medical forms.  The entry interview for my first CT-scan was typical.

“Mr. Pote, it looks like you skipped the current medications section.  What all medications do you take each day?”

“None.”

“None?  No blood pressure medicine?  No pain medicine?  No acid reflux medicine?”

“No, Ma’am.  No medicine.”

“You don’t ever take any medicine at all?”

“Well, sometimes I take a Tylenol or ibuprofen if I have a headache, but no daily med’s unless you count the caffeine in my coffee.”

“Hmmm!  Well that’s good.  Now, what about this prior surgery section?  You didn’t list any surgeries.”

“No, ma’am.”

“You mean to tell me you’ve never had any surgeries?  Not even a tonsillectomy?”

“Well, in my early twenties I had a wart removed from my little toe, and I’ve had a few other similar outpatient procedures for ingrown toenails and such, but I assumed the form was asking about surgeries requiring general anesthesia and I’ve not had any of those.”

“Well, that’s good!  That’s real good!  Now, what about this section on pain?  Where all are you experiencing pain?”

“No pain.  I feel great!”

“Mr. Pote, if you don’t have any pain or any complaints or medical issues, why are you even here doing a scan?”

“We’re just trying to figure out why this lymph node is swollen,” I responded touching the swollen area on the right side of my neck.

The scan showed a tumor, which led to biopsy surgery, which showed the tumor to be malignant.  A second surgery followed to remove the tumor along with the lymph nodes on the right side of my neck.

A couple of weeks later, we began a rigorous seven-week treatment plan of weekly chemo treatments combined with twice-daily radiation treatments.  Having just completed my 3rd week of radiation and my 4th chemo treatment, I’m counting myself as half-way through.

The first two weeks weren’t too bad in terms of side-effects, but this last week has been a lot tougher.  Some days are harder than others.  I keep reminding myself that I’m half done…and I keep counting my many blessings…while praying for strength and wisdom.

Do you realize how much faith it requires to undergo cancer treatment based solely on a doctor’s word? Click To Tweet

Remember, prior to my diagnosis I felt great!  I was active, energetic, and pain free.  I had an excellent immune system and was rarely ill, even when the rest of my family came down with whatever bug was circulating.  Other than the apparently-minor-issue of a swollen lymph node, I was the very picture of good health!

And remember, I have never personally seen or felt the cancer.  Relying solely on the word of medical professionals and the results of medical tests and scans…”the evidence of things not seen”…I submitted to surgery.

And remember, the cancer was surgically removed.  The surgeon reported successfully removing all visible signs of cancer.  The post-surgery CT-scan showed no abnormalities.

However, the biopsy showed this to be a very aggressive cancer, likely to return unless all microscopic traces are eradicated through further treatment.  And this particular cancer is known to be very responsive to the combination of radiation and chemo treatment.  Medically, my prognosis is excellent if I complete the prescribed treatment plan.

I sought a second opinion and was told the exact same thing by an independent expert.  I argued, “You don’t understand how healthy I am.  I am in excellent health.  I have a very robust immune system.  I hardly ever get sick.  Why can’t my immune system eradicate any remaining microscopic cancer cells, if there even are any?”

“It possibly could, but this is a very aggressive cancer, and it may not.  Left untreated, you have a much higher likelihood of the cancer returning.  With the prescribed treatment plan, you have a very low probability of the cancer returning.  Yes, you are young.  You are healthy.  You have a strong immune system.  You have a high expectancy of many more years of active health.  These are the very reasons you need to follow the treatment plan, because you are strong enough to handle it well and young enough to maximize the benefits.”

Logically, that makes perfect sense.  Rationally, I know the cancer treatment plan is the right decision.  Emotionally, I still sometimes struggle with it.  On my worst days battling pain and nausea, I ask myself, “Why am I putting myself through this?  I don’t even know if there is any cancer left to kill.  For all I know, I may already be cancer free.  And until I started this treatment, I felt great!”

Then I click back through the data…the research results…the accumulated histories of patients fighting the exact same cancer I’m fighting…and I know the right decision is to keep going until it’s done.

That requires a lot of faith!  …faith that my doctors have a correct diagnosis…faith in the medical technology…faith in the medical research…faith in medical knowledge and wisdom.  It’s easy to intellectually accept these things based on scientific evidence.  It is much harder to act on that accepted knowledge when the action carries a very burdensome path of lengthy treatment.  It’s still all “evidence of things not seen.”  My only knowledge of the cancer is my doctors’ word.  I am relying completely on the medical community for both the diagnosis and the best treatment plan.

That requires a lot of faith in the medical community!

If I can have that much faith in the medical community, how much more faith can I have in my Heavenly Father?  How much more faith can I have in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who continually displays His faithfulness and lovingkindess?  How much more faith can I have in Jesus Christ, my Savior, Redeemer, and Deliverer, who, for our sake, submitted Himself to be tortured, crucified, and killed?  How much more faith can I have in the Holy Spirit, our Comforter, sent by Christ Himself, to comfort, teach, instruct, and bestow wisdom?

By faith, I choose to believe my doctor when he tells me this treatment plan is going to be very tough, but is ultimately for my own good and the best thing for me.  How much more can I believe God when he tells me:

…all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

 

If God be for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31)

 

Fear not for I have redeemed thee
I have called the by my name; thou art mine.
When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee.
When thou passest through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee.
When thou passest through the fires, thou shall not be burned.
Neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.
For I am the Lord thy God. (Isaiah 43:1-3)

 

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures.
He leadeth me beside the still waters,
He restoreth my soul.
He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His namesake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil.
For thou art with me.
Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me, in the presence of my enemies.
Thou anointest my head with oil.
My cup runneth over.
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)

Now faith…

 

[Linked to Messy Marriage, Wild Flowers, Wellspring, Redeemed Life, Tell His Story ]

 

22 thoughts on “Faith and Cancer

  1. Joe,
    As a cancer survivor, I pray for those who are facing the battle with cancer. I believe that God CAN miraculously heal a person but I also know that some of God’s greatest work is done through human hands. I pray that what ever method God uses, He will make you a Cancer Survivor. Keep the faith.
    Jim

  2. Joe, Thank you for updating us and sharing a very beautiful exhortation on “faith”. As you continue to have faith in a powerful, awesome God, please also be reassured that you are not forgotten by many who care for you.
    Praying for you and your family.

  3. Praying for healing in your body, Joe. I can only imagine how tough this season of your life is.
    You were healthy before and you can be healthy again, God created us to heal. I would highly encourage you to go to this website to gain more information about treating cancer: http://thetruthaboutcancer.com/
    Prayers are with you and your family.

    • Joey, I agree with Amy about this site. Some of the things I believe I told you about ( or meant too ) are listed on this site. Turmeric/Curcumin, great proven healing properties! Essiac Tea is another one I have heard great things about. Prayers and love my friend! – Jacqueline

  4. Now faith! Praying your faith is increased in the God of Heaven and Earth and that He will guide the wisdom of your medical team. Even if you have to go through all of the treatment as prescribed, I am praying God will give you strength to do so. In Jesus’ Name, the Name above all names!

  5. Joe. Thank you for allowing us to share in your fight and to battle with you in prayer.

    Although your body is dulled from the treatments your mind is sharp and your writing clear.

    Please hear my shouts and claps cheering you from afar

  6. Yes, having faith at a time like this can be very difficult, but God is good and God gives us direction in our lives, as you know.
    I pray you continue to have the strength and courage to go through your treatments and that God does an amazing healing in your body.

    “My only knowledge of the cancer is my doctors’ word.”
    To learn more about cancer I would highly recommend The Truth About Cancer, http://thetruthaboutcancer.com/ They provide amazing information about cancer and how to truly heal your body.

    My prayers are with you and your family.

    BTW, I hope I didn’t duplicate a comment, but I thought I left one yesterday and didn’t see it.
    Amy recently posted…A new year and new beginnings…My Profile

  7. Faith in God – Always, faith in doctors – not so much.
    Having reversed my husband’s heart disease after 2 heart attacks and a massive stroke, after doctors said there was nothing they could do other than give him drugs, I have very little faith in their treatments. God asks for faith, and rightly so, but medicine demands rigorous scientific testing which is sadly absent and incorrectly done with bias upon interpretation. My husband is what they call a ‘walking miracle’ – he should have died. Now he has no sign of heart disease at all, and the doctors are baffled. It is no miracle, it is natural, it was accomplished using what God put on this planet all along. Faith in their diagnoses, yes to a certain extent; faith in their drugs – no. Nobody is ill from a lack of drugs, but many are ill from a lack of nutrients that the body needs and is not getting.
    Even while using chemo and radiation, there are alternative cancer treatments that have been shown to work, and many can be used along with chemo and radiation. Please consider taking a look at http://www.cancertutor.com and at http://www.healingcancernaturally.com and finally at http://www.doctoryourself.com for more information, and use or do what seems best to you. A helpful starting article might be this one: http://www.doctoryourself.com/cancer.html
    There are several books written by people who have healed themselves from cancer as well. I would encourage you to check out these sites that often make use of the healing power of the natural world that God created and put here for our benefit. Health does not come in a pill or from a pharmaceutical lab, it comes from the earth that God created, the natural world that He gave us for food and medicine alike.
    Vitamin C is a cancer fighter that I have personally used, and vit C reduces the negative effects of chemo, eliminating them altogether for some people. It is inexpensive and the only caveat is you must take enough.
    My little post is meant for encouragement, there is always something that can be done. God has already provided everything we need for health and life, we just need to use it.
    My entire family is praying for you, for full reversal and full healing.
    We all need you and your insight and wisdom which is poured forth in your excellent writings; God Bless you.

    • I agree with you, Molly! Oddly, I’ve posted two comments, one 2 days ago which is not being posted and both encouraged Joe to look at alternative treatments too.

      I too have strong faith in God, but little in conventional medical doctors. My oldest son has been sick for over 10 years and it wasn’t until I took matters into my own hands that we discovered he has Lyme disease. And then it took much more time to find a doctor who would work with us. Now my son is taking his health into his own hands and using the Paleo diet and natural treatments to heal his body.

      I loved your response and pray that Joe and others who come here will be encouraged to look beyond conventional medicine towards true healing.

      🙂
      Amy recently posted…A new year and new beginnings…My Profile

      • Oh yes, the video series by Ty Bollinger is excellent!
        A friend of mine has liver cancer (ugh!) and is doing chemo, but is also doing 6 more natural treatments as well. He has his doctors baffled, they think he should be dead but he is healing, the tumors are shrinking. We pray every day for him. Praise God!
        Here are a couple of questions: Why are his doctors surprised that their treatment, which they insisted upon, is working? If they didn’t think it would help, why did they insist?
        Their cure rate is 3%, natural cure rates are 75-95%.
        They do not know about his natural treatments, vitamin C, frankincense oil, blackseed oil, and 3 others.
        Just as all life comes from God, so does all true healing and all good health. It’s in clean food, properly prepared. It’s in clean water. It’s in whatever supplements you need to counteract the particular deficiencies your body may have. It’s in prayer, and reading God’s Word, and calming your mind.
        God Bless.

  8. I’m glad you’ve reached the halfway point in your treatment, Joe, and are having glimpses of light at the end of the tunnel. I had my gall bladder taken out 2 weeks ago, and before I went in, I had to have that faith in my doctors too. Letting someone cut into me and take a piece out? That I’ve only met once? Yeah, I call that faith. Faith in doctors. AND faith in God. Glad you have that kind of faith, my friend! Praying for your continued healing and your faith to stay so strong for this long haul. It will be worth it!
    Lisa notes recently posted…6 loving mantras to say when you don’t know what to sayMy Profile

  9. Great post, Joe. And great perspective. I’m so glad your prognosis is as good as it is, and that you are “halfway through” the treatments. I’m quite sure I would have the exact same doubts you have experienced, but I think of that scripture about not looking back once you’ve put your hand to the plow. Will be continuing prayer as you plow on through the rest the treatments. God bless you, and thanks for this share.

  10. Dear Big Faith!
    I haven’t been reading much blog posts lately due to some other work on my plate. I am so sorry to hear about your diagnosis. I will be joining many others I am sure – in praying for you and your hard work ahead. Love and prayers – your sister in the Lord, Cindy

  11. Joey,
    Glad to see your faith has remained strong through all these years! No matter what you can see, what anyone says or what you feel, Jesus has already died to provide your complete health! Receive from him! I do understand that it is easier to speak and believe when you are not in the heat of battle. But Joey, that’s why God has provided you with such tremendous support and agreement in His word. Even from the other side of the earth, I stand with you in agreement for your absolute health and healing!

  12. It’s always amazing what a cancer diagnosis will open one’s eyes to see–the blessings that we often miss when life is going our way, Joe. I’m so glad that you have an excellent prognosis and I’m glad you’re putting your faith in your doctors treatment plan. But you are so right about that nagging question … do we trust God as much as we trust our doctors–even more so?! I want to have that kind of faith and you are showing just how faith-filled you are, my friend! I’ve got you in my weekly prayers and love hearing how things are going and what God reveals as you go through this difficult time. It inspires us all!

  13. Joey, your writings are such a blessing! Thanks for sharing with us through the written word–even when your throat and mouth are too sore from the treatments to share verbally with us. I’m looking forward, though, to when I can hear you share your thoughts again and watch your face light up with the beauty of the Truth of God’s Word.

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