Saturday, August 08, 2009

Scripture to Go! - Part 2

The following morning my pain subsided and day of whirlwind tests and procedures began. [From previous post, Part 1]

Late evening after the tests and procedures were completed, the urologist gave me the shocking news: renal cell carcinoma (RCC) which had ruptured through Gerota's fascia, also called a capsule, into the abdominal cavity.

RCC is resistant to chemotherapy and radiation, so surgical removal of the tumor, and in this case, also the kidney, is the only successful treatm
ent, with a 5-year survival guesstimate.

The urologist left me alone to my thoughts; no one was present when he gave me the distressful, seemingly fatal diagnosis. In a minute my mind, which was locked on the words, "kidney stones" was rerouted to a far more serious word, "cancer," which I initially perceived, a death sentence.

Of course, I called my husband and family: their reaction was stunned silence, not helpful to this very verbal person who loves to thrash any subject into submission, ad nauseum, ad infinitum.

Throughout the night and next day of additional tests to determine my ability to withstand an estimated 6 hour surgery [heart-good, lungs-not so good], I kept asking myself, THE QUESTION, all of us seem to have when we, or those close to us, receive dist
urbing, disastrous, often fatalistic news: 'Why do bad things happen to good people?' It was the second medical crisis in which I mulled this question in my mind. May be I am not "good," whatever that is.

My mother was a humble, private, devout woman who suffered greatly 11 months with
astrocytoma, a deadly brain tumor. My Mother-in-Law battled Lupus erythmatosus and breast cancer for over seven years. Both women were "good" in my judgment, much more devoted to their belief systems than I perceive myself.

Between the m
ultiplicity of tests I turned to the source of my belief system in a Great Creator, an Omnipotent Deity. I retrieved the Gideon Bible from my bedside table, and numbly began shuffling pages. Searching for reassurance and comfort, Psalm 23 nor Philippians 4:13 , both great faith and comfort passages, did not seem to be scriptures befitting my current need.

So opening the Book in the vicinity of the Psalms, I allowed the pages to open where they may, which happened to be the dogeared page of Psalm 57:1 (NIV) where someone with trembling, unsteady hand had underlined the passage with a pencil. It read:

Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me,
for in You my soul takes refuge.
I will take refuge in the shadow of Your wings
until the disaster has passed.

In this same room some unknown person had sought comfort in this passage; perhaps he/she marked it for some future person's shared consolation. It immediately seem to be the passage for which I was seeking. Yes, I would "take refuge in the shadow of Your wings" and petition for mercy. I wrote the passage on a napkin and clutched it in my hand as my gurney rolled down the antiseptic corridors and blinding overhead lights into surgery the next day.

From the point of reading and accepting the message of this Scripture, everything changed. Surgery was much shorter, ICU and the step down unit were also short, and I only stayed a few days in a regular room. The tumor was much smaller than originally thought and in a necrotic state. There was no evidence of metastases.

The immediate disaster had passed.

August 26, 2009 will be 13 years without recurrence. I still have 6-month checkup by an oncologist. Having a medical background in pharmacy, I am of the opinion, once a person has cancer, the cells are always present, just 'looking for a home.'

To this day a copy of Psalm 57:1 resides in my purse and in my memory; therefore, Scripture to Go. I still consider myself hiding the the shadow of His wings.

Another Scripture accompanies me to City Council and other public service events in which I participate: Proverbs 29:18 "Without vision, the people perish..."

I realize David, hiding in a cave, is thought to have written Psalm 57 petitioning his God to save him from King Saul, who, consumed with insane jealousy, sought to kill him. Cancer was seeking to kill me.

Proverbs 29, goes on the say people who obey the law of the Lord, a spiritual law, are happy. This has been appropriated to the laws of men.

Similarly, John 8:32, "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" is engraved in various places such as the University of Texas Tower and quoted in many speeches, including one by Martin Luther King.The original passage appears to mean Spiritual truth of the Master Teacher.

Do you have a portable Source-to-Go for comfort in difficult circumstances: Scripture, poetry, writings of the Eastern or Greek philosophers, Islam, Judaism, Existentialism, or an idiom? I know many of you have diverse sources for bolstering your stamina to endure life's turbulent waters.

[Cancer Awareness Ribbons (some colors have multiple designations) Orange = kidney; grey = brain; pink = breast]


Pat - Arkansas said...

You're a blessed woman! I very much like your idea of 'scripture to go.'

Amber Star said...

I like your "scripture to go", too.
Many times I've let the Bible open and it opens to the exact passage that helps me.

When I had surgery for cervical cancer I nearly died. I was at once trying to remember the 23rd Psalm from my childhood days when I went to church all the time. I managed to remember and felt the most complete sense of peace I'd ever known. No pain at all....only a great feeling of peace and no pain at all. I don't think they would have given me morphine while I was bleeding internally, but that was one theory put forward to explain it to me. I knew and still know that it was God's hand holding mine.

Pat - Arkansas said...

Carol, if you have time, check out my note of revision re: King Charles the Bare.

Renie Burghardt said...

Carol Ann,

Wow, you are a blessed woman indeed. I have always believed in the power of prayer, ever since I was a little girl, buried alive during a bombing, and praying for help. And help came. And when I broke my hip in December of 2005 by slipping in the snow, prayer is what got me help. I was in the backyard, I was alone, it was after 4 o'clock in the afternoon, I had no close neighbors, and I had forgotten to carry my cell phone in my pocket. As I laid there on the frozen, snowy ground, in excruciating pain, what did I do? I prayed for strength to somehow make it back into the house, 30 feet away, so I could call for help. And I got the strength I never thought I had, and managed to crawl, with a broken hip, back into the house. I would not have made it without help. But I asked for help and received it. Well, I made this much too long. But I am very much a believer!

Take care!


NitWit1 said...

You've all mentioned crises and your sources of comfort.

I'm glad you've shared with readers and me.

Amber Star: Cervical cancer is somewhat like Kidney cancer--few treatments, although recently some have been developed--how successful, I'm not sure. Anything involving blood and hemorrage to this day causes fear to rise inside of me.

And how on earth Renie got into the house is certainly a miracle. My hip hurt just reading about it.

We all are survivors, not just by medical science, but by miracles.

Carol @ TheWritersPorch said...

As I'm sure you know, I'm a firm believer that Prayer is the only answer! Prayer works miracles! I too broke my hip in Dec.2005 like Renie. When I saw the ex-ray of the three 6 inch screws the surgeon put in it ,I said to him;
Oh, I have my own trinity in there! The father,son and holy ghost will heal just fine! I would lay in the bed and invision the healing power of the holy ghost moving from my foot to my hip! Warm healing would radiate up my leg! At five weeks I drove myself to New Orleans to visit a cousin whose is a doctor, he was amazed.
When my doctor released me at 8 weeks, he said I was the most amazing hip fracture patient he'd ever seen! I had only taken 10 pain pills the whole 8 weeks!
Prayer is it Carol Ann! You are living proof it works too!
My favorite scripture is Romans 8:28!

Arkansas Patti said...

Trying to catch up here. Very powerful story. I too have used the "let the bible fall open" routine. Am always amazed at how pertinent the chapter is and how it brings comfort.
Great post.

Anonymous said...

I don't really know what to say except that I think we all wonder at that news and how we might handle it. I know my wife had breast cancer once and went through all the treatments and got better and ten years later she got it in the other breast. She had to go through the treatment process again and got rid of it the second time. We were told there isn't much that can be done if she gets it for the third time. It has been three years since the last time. So we have hope and pray.

Take care of yourself.

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Liz said...

That is a fantastic story. It is so wonderful that we have words to hang on to in times of trouble. Even when they don't seem to be having much effect the truth is working its way into our beings. Thank God.