Thursday, July 27, 2017

Providence, Part Two

The Lord is my shepherd;
    I have all that I need. (Psalm 23:1)

I have three more stories of God's Providence to tell. If you haven't read Providence, Part One, please read that first. I explain what I mean by the term providence, and tell two remarkable stories about how God has provided for me during my cancer journey, and blessed others through me. The ones I'll share in this post are just as amazing, at least to me.

But first, I need to acknowledge that I am well aware of how blessed I am. I received a message from someone yesterday who has endured one terrible trial after another and feels utterly alone. I also received heartbreaking news from friends in my journey. Why should I be so blessed, even in my terminal condition, in comparison to others who suffer so? I don't know why. But I know I won't escape it forever. Suffering comes to all of us.

But that just makes the blessings all the sweeter. Which brings me back to my narrative. In January of 2016, my health insurance changed. The urologist who diagnosed me didn't take my new insurance. No great loss. I didn't like him much anyway. I also didn't like the way his nurse gave me my first Lupron shot. It was very painful, with effects that didn't fade for days. I decided I wanted to find an oncologist to treat my cancer, not a urologist. An actual cancer doctor.

I got a referral from my primary care doctor for an oncologist in his group. I liked him from the moment I met him. He's a no-nonsense, just-give-me-the-facts kind of guy, which is what I want from a doctor. He never pushes one treatment over another on me. He gives me all of my options, and respects my choices and beliefs. After a year and a half in his care, I've learned that all of the staff there reflect the tone set by the oncologists; knowledgable, open minded, caring, and compassionate. I love my team. I'm so blessed to have found them. It was no accident that I did.

But as in my last story, there is one who is special. My nurse, Melanie. This woman is an angel sent straight from heaven. I tell the amusing story of how we met in one of my most read posts, Melanie And Me. They sent her to me because I had been so traumatized by the Lupron shot given by Nurse Ratched at my old urologist's office. They said they'd give me their best shot giver. I was so scared waiting for that shot, I was freaking out. 

Melanie came in and put me completely at ease. When she gave me the shot, I couldn't even feel it. I finally understood a truth that many knew before me; The painfulness of a shot is in direct proportion to the skill of the person giving it.

When it came time for my next shot, I found out that Melanie wasn't scheduled to work that day. I insisted that it had to be her, or I wasn't getting the shot. They called her, and she remembered me, and agreed to come in on her day off, just for me. To thank her, I gave her one of my cross pendants. That's the day we became friends. Now, we are so much more. It's my desire to be in her care for the rest of my life. I won't always need an oncologist, but I'll always need a nurse. There's only one nurse I want taking care of me.

How did I manage to find such a perfect situation with unexpected blessings? I didn't do any research. I just followed my doctor's referral. So many of my brothers have doctors they don't trust, and medical staff who seem to have no compassion at all. Did I get lucky? I don't think so. I think it was Providence. God provided for me once again.

My cup overflows with blessings. (Psalm 23:5c)

In the summer of 2016, I was feeling sorry for myself. Lupron had sent my emotions out of control, and I was under a dark cloud a lot of the time. Summer schedules made spending time with loved ones difficult, if not impossible. I was moping around the house one day, unsure what to do with myself. I asked myself what could happen that could make me feel better. Almost immediately, the answer came to me.

Our closest friend Nikki had moved to California in 2001. We saw each other once a year, around Christmas. But there had been an enormous hole in our lives and hearts since she moved. It's not a stretch to say that my wife and I love her more than anyone else in the world. That last time we'd seen her, the previous Christmas, I basically begged her to move back. We needed her here. Especially now. But she gave no indication that might be a possibility.

As I drowned in self pity that summer day, asking myself what could make things better, I immediately thought, "I know! If Nikki called and said she was moving back to Colorado, that would make everything better."

It seemed like a total pipe dream at the time. Nikki had a life that she loved in SoCal. A good job, great friends, and a strong church. And Disneyland. She's a Disneyland geek. But once that thought occurred to me, within the hour, Nikki called to tell me she was moving back. She had a job offer here. Nothing was final, and she'd have to come out for an interview, but it looked good.

A few months later, she was driving back home to stay. Having Nikki here has made all the difference. We see her almost every week. She's here for us. And when the time comes, I know she'll be here for my wife. When my wife sells this house and moves into her own place, Nikki is one of a handful of people that I know I can count on to be there for her, hang out with her, spend time with her, and never, ever fail to support her and be her friend. I can't tell you what that means to me. She's quite simply the best friend we've ever had. She's family. And God brought her back home just when we needed her the most. That's Providence, my friends. You can't tell me it's not. 

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me (Psalm 23:4)

One more thing. The most miraculous thing of all. I am Stage 4, with cancer all through my spine, and in my hip bone and sacrum. But I can't feel any of it. I don't feel a thing, when others with less cancer in their bones than I have are in agony. They're having spot radiation treatments to try to relieve the pain. They're on drugs like morphine and Oxycontin. I don't even take ibuprofen. Other than the effects of hormone treatment, I feel completely normal.

No one can convince me that isn't a God thing. I'm in no pain because God is providing me with this time. There are things he wants me to do, tasks he wants me to complete. Once I've run the race that he has set before me, his hand of protection will be lifted, and it will be a short road home for me. Don't ask me how I know this. I just do. None of us could ask for a better transition than that. And that's what it will be, a transition. Not an end.

God's Providence for all of us is to be born, to live, and to die. I am no exception to that rule. I've gladly and gratefully accepted his blessings for me while I live. I will gladly answer his call when he welcomes me home. It's a home that he has built for me. He's provided it for me. Even in the next life, it's all about Providence. #waroncancer #bearingwitness

Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
    all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the Lord
forever. (Psalm 23:6)

No comments:

Post a Comment