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.
The following morning my pain subsided and day of whirlwind tests and procedures began. [From previous post, Part 1]
RCC is resistant to chemotherapy and radiation, so surgical removal of the tumor, and in this case, also the kidney, is the only successful treatment, 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 disturbing, 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 multiplicity 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]