Don’t waste this opportunity!
Don’t waste this opportunity! That is most often shared when we congratulate a friend for their college graduation, or for a job promotion, or an advancement in influence. It is strange to hear this in relationship to a cancer diagnosis. However, this should be our attitude when we face trials such as cancer and other health issues.
One of the precious little books, more like a pamphlet, which has been so helpful to me is “Don’t Waste Your Cancer” by John Piper. It is available here free as a pdf, but also available on Amazon for a small fee.
Here is the chapter list in his book.
- We waste our cancer if we don’t hear in our own groaning the hope-filled labor pains of a fallen world.
- You will waste your cancer if you do not believe God designed it for you.
- You will waste your cancer if you believe it is a curse and not a gift.
- You will waste your cancer if you seek comfort from your odds rather than from God.
- You will waste your cancer if you refuse to think about death.
- You will waste your cancer if you think that “beating” cancer means staying alive rather than cherishing Christ.
- You will waste your cancer if you spend too much time reading about cancer and not enough time reading about God.
- You will waste your cancer if you let it drive you into solitude instead of deepen your relationships with manifest affection.
- You will waste your cancer if you grieve as those who have no hope.
- You will waste your cancer if you treat sin as casually as before.
- You will waste your cancer if you fail to use it as a means to the truth and glory of Christ.
Even if you are not facing cancer, I would still suggest you read it so you can encourage someone facing difficult health issues.
Now for the Good News!
Now for the Good News!I am very happy now to share some good news with you. For the past 10 months, Shree and I have been very guarded in regard to my prognosis. While my cancer has been responding to the chemotherapy, it was clear to us from the doctors and what we read that without surgery, my prognosis would be poor and short. The statistics from Cancer.org inform us that only 8% of Stage 3 Bile Duct patients have a 5-year survival rate. While I was originally diagnosed Stage 3, which means that the cancer had spread past the liver into the regional lymph nodes, there were doctors from John Hopkins that advocated on my behalf. They were willing to check my lymph nodes to see if the cancer had been removed there through the chemotherapy, or possibly that the swollen lymph nodes were due to my liver disease of PSC (Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis) rather than cancer. It was up in the air if this surgery would even take place.
Many of you prayed and supported Shree and I as I underwent the lymph node surgery on March 2. It took several weeks to get all the results back and I am happy to share that the lymph nodes came back clear. This made it possible for me to be a candidate for liver transplant surgery, whether a deceased or a live donor. This is great news for my prognosis. A liver transplant will not only remove the Bile Duct Cancer but will most likely also remove the PSC disease in my liver. I will have to continue with chemotherapy every two weeks as well as radiation to keep the cancer from spreading. If it spreads, then I am no longer a candidate for liver transplant. The surgeons at John Hopkins tell me that my greatest hope for transplant is probably going to be through a live donation due to the way livers from deceased donors are prioritized.
How do you get tested to see if you are a match for liver donation?
So, with that said, it is important for me to share how my friends who read this can be tested to be a live donor if God so leads them to inquire. First, I do not ever want to ask or pressure anybody to consider donating for me (plus Johns Hopkins wouldn’t allow it). I rest in God’s providence in regard to His timing. However, if you feel led to be tested, you will need to first fill out this online form from Hopkins. You will be prompted early in the form to provide my name (the recipient) and also my birthdate, which is 02/11/1977. You may also visit this website for more information or call the Hopkins Liver Transplant clinic at (410) 614-2989 if you have any questions. Johns Hopkins will maintain your privacy during the process and will only share with me once the donor is fully matched. They do not share with me anything during the process about who is being tested or if they were rejected. You may share those details with me, but it is completely up to you.
One of the important matching aspects is blood type – this is the first matching criteria and can often eliminate potential donors early in the process. I am O-positive blood type which means that only O-positive and O-negative individuals are able to donate. So for those of you willing to be tested – thank you, and for those willing to pray – thank you!! The earlier I get transplanted the quicker I can have the cancer removed.
ONE FINAL THING!
One more thing, God is good!! That is a statement that we often hear when we report good news, but I want to share that God was good back when my prognosis was poor. God will be good if my cancer metastasizes and spreads. God will be good if I fail to get a liver transplant in time, and God will be good if I am able to have a liver transplant and be free from Bile Duct Cancer and Primarily Sclerosing Cholangitis. His goodness is not based upon our happy endings, but upon His glory, providence, and grace that is made evident through the finished work of Christ on the cross.