First off, so you won’t be misled, this is not a how to post. Having been an unwanted houseguest a couple of times in my life, I can testify that they are clueless as to how unwanted they really are. (Hard lessons learned and I grew from the experience.) But there are some houseguests, proverbially speaking, that should never be allowed in, and should be kicked out as soon as they are detected.

Backing Up to November 2022

I never really posted about the surgery I underwent in November of last year. It was one that many people want for cosmetic reasons, but that I had never even thought of having. Long story short, since I’ve lost around 30 kg since 2011, I had a lot of leftovers that were not going to go away naturally. When my doctors advised that the only treatment for may particular problems was a colostomy, they also suggested surgery to remove the “leftovers” so that there would be a more stable platform for placing the stoma.

Part of being hospitalized includes having a chest X-ray performed. To my surprise, the result showed a very tiny shadow in the upper left portion of my left lung. I didn’t think anything of it, but was rushed to see a lung specialist to see if it was a reason for postponing my surgery. While he did not object, he did suggest that I try to do a CT of my lungs as soon as possible, just to be sure.

As soon as possible turned out to be three months after the surgery.

Fast Forward to February 28, 2023

Once an adequate amount of time had passed post-op I called my healthcare provider to set a date for the CT. On Tuesday, February 28, I went to have it done, and got a DVD of the scan to give to my specialist. On March 1, I gave the disc to his secretary and she told me he’d get back to me in a day or so with the results.

Two hours later, his secretary called me on the phone and asked me to come up to his office. Dr. Dotan wanted to talk to me. He showed me the result. There on the screen was an image of my lungs, and a nice big white spot hanging like a planet in my lung! He explained that since it was at least 3 centimeters in diameter (~1.5 inches) I need to do a PET-CT as soon as possible.

“Since you aren’t a smoker, it’s probably nothing, but we can’t take a chance. You need to have a PET-CT as soon as possible.” He went on to explain that the best way to proceed was to get approval from my healthcare provider, and then a speedy date could be set up.

Shortly after the meeting, one of my colleagues asked about the CT results. His response, “you will have the PET-CT done tomorrow.” Little did I know that he moved all the powers that be in the imaging department at work. In the background, the Lord moved bureaucracy  and on Thursday morning I received the approval for the scan, only to learn that the PET-CT personnel were at a training conference for the day. However, bright and early Sunday morning I was told to come in the next day for the PET-CT.

My head is spinning

My doctor checked the results the same day and said he could not say it was not cancer. He had a meeting the same day with the hospital’s Tumor Board, and I was sent an invitation to be examined by a surgeon on March 8. After several people looked at the results, they are fairly certain that this unwanted “guest” is cancer. They are confident it has not metastasized and fairly sure it has not touched the lymph nodes, though they will only know when they go in to remove it and do the biopsy. The good news? It is a primary tumor. (Unknown to me, they had done a full body PET-CT!). However, all these are reasons why I need surgery as soon as possible, to remove the tumor before it gets bigger and metastasizes. The doctors are quite positive and advised it is quite rare to catch lung cancer this early on. As far as why did I get it? No one knows. Non-smokers do get lung cancer, just not as often as smokers. Prognosis? Very good. Post-surgical treatment to be decided based on what kind of tumor it was.

First kick out the unwanted guest, then figure out how to mitigate the damage. Makes sense to me

So on March 16, I’ll be going to Rambam Health Care Campus for the removal of my left upper lung lobe. As I told some of my friends at the Chinese meeting tonight, it’s only temporary – I’ll get it back when I’m given my new body.

But are you OK? Really?

The answer to that question is yes – right now. In another couple of hours? I don’t know. Depends on how tired I am and where I allow my thoughts to go. When I thought about writing this post, I simply didn’t want to tell the whole story yet again… but tonight, as I comforted a friend with thoughts about the resurrection, I felt so joyful.

With all my heart, I know whatever happens, I belong to Jesus and am in His good hands. My Good shepherd is also the Great Physician. And I look forward to being with Him forever – when the time is right. However, I do not believe that this is that time.

During one of my quiet times, I began to read in Isaiah 38 about Hezekiah’s illness. He cried out to God, and the Lord heard his prayer. Interestingly, he also received a bit of “doctoring” via a poultice applied by the prophet to Hezekiah’s wound. I felt the Lord encouraging me, with Isaiah, this disease will not be to death.

So Yes, really, I’m OK. Especially when I consider how the Lord has been working in and through this, and see the amazing timing in how everything happened – from finding to surgery – only 16 days!

And the outpouring of love and concern as I’ve shared with different people has been strengthening as well.

Being alone is the hard part

Being alone can be the hardest part of walking through trials like this for many of us. I’m talking about the alone where it is just me, myself, and I in the four walls of my house – with my cats. Some quiet time is good, but too much, and mean to or not, my thoughts begin to drift in the wrong direction.

Then there are the practical issues of being alone physically. I am the one who cares for my cats, pays the rent and utilities, does the shopping and driving, etc. There are simply some things that no one CAN help me with. I wouldn’t know what to tell them I need until the moment came when I needed it.

And at night, when you can’t sleep, the circling thoughts try to keep me awake, or enter into my dreams, revealing the hidden me who struggles with fear (of needles, and pain, side effects, and long hospitalizations). The me who struggles with making all the phone calls related to the surrounding bureaucracy and paperwork.

But God…

Years ago, I bought a devotional called “But God.” I never forgot some of the lessons I learned from it – and the most important was that in times of trouble, don’t say you trust the Lord, but… instead, look at the giant you have to face and counter it with a “But God” statement. A “But God” statement like, “Yes, I am going to lose part of my lung, but I will get a new one from my Savior – in His time.

I don’t know what is ahead, but I know that my God is good and will not let me – or you – go.

I hope that you don’t look at my latest challenge and think you are going through nothing. That is a lie. I am certain it is just as challenging for you to face, as my struggles are for me. Whatever your battle, it is real, and it is yours – not mine.

Here is the wonderful thing. Jesus will not stop helping you because he has an overtime job with me now. Jesus has an overtime job on behalf of us, pleading before the throne of grace for each of us in our struggles, needs, temptations, and the battle to keep our eyes on Him.

We will have our ups and downs in whatever trial we face… But God is with us – Emmanuel!

May Isaiah 38:1–20 encourage you as it has me.

The featured photo for this post is from the PET-CT scan of my lung. After seeing it, I went home and wrote the following poem.

Getting Rid of An Unwanted HouseguestTh

Cancer is an unwanted houseguest
sneaking in when least expected
Leaving its belongings where they
                don’t belong.
Quieter than a roach laying eggs in your closet,
more invasive than their hatching in your underwear
Cancer is the evil twin of the sun
Its ravenous corona flinging ever outward
With grasping fingers consuming
                all that resist
Its mere appearance in Borg-like* silence –
resistance is futile.
You can always lock out an unwanted houseguest,
but how to excise a “sun” impersonator
embedded deep, within flesh and blood?
Like the sun, there is no entry point,
it simply, suddenly is.
Cancer is a demonic deceiver.

The Son is my stand against such lies
Crowned in glory that withers the imitator
He too is silent, for now
                Peace… be still.
What others would not stand for, I will
These bones shall live.

*Borg are beings from Star Trek, that implant machinery into people with the intent of controlling or assimilating them