Saturday, January 07, 2006

January 7, 2006 - No Time Like the Present?

This is a day of letting people know about the new grading of my lymphoma, and the imminent start of chemotherapy. Yesterday evening I sent out a lot of e-mail reminders to friends and family, asking them to be sure to read yesterday’s blog entry, and I’ve received a number of supportive phone calls and e-mails in return. (Thanks to all of you – you know who you are!)

Dr. Portlock returns my phone call in the early afternoon. Nothing new from her – it’s just as Dr. Lerner told me. I ask her if she knows of any other treatment options besides R-CHOP, and she says no, that’s the international standard for the kind of cancer I have. Is there anything more she thinks Sloan-Kettering can do for me, that Dr. Lerner can’t do for me locally? No, there isn’t. But Dr. Lerner and I should feel free to call her in the future, if we’d like to consult about treatment. OK, I’ve got my second opinion now. I thank her for all her help.

Today I’ve been puttering around with a lot of minor tasks, mostly trying to keep my mind off the treatment that’s coming. One e-mail, from a cousin who’s been dealing with a chronic health condition for years, puts a different spin on it. His take is, why wait? Now that you know you’ve got to receive chemo, why not pressure your doctor to get that porta-cath into you and start the drip as soon as possible? The intervening days will only be filled with anxiety, so why not save yourself the mental agony and move things along?

In our conversation yesterday, Dr. Lerner seemed willing to have me start treatments this coming Friday, rather than waiting till the following Wednesday (he sees patients in the office only on Wednesdays and Fridays). It was only after I reminded him that our previously-scheduled appointment is not until late afternoon that he suggested starting treatments the following Wednesday. I think he would have been willing to have me come in earlier in the day on Friday and get started, but he also sensed my bewilderment at the abrupt change in plans and was cutting me a little slack.

I’m going to take my cousin’s advice and consider the possibility of moving things up. Once I find out from the surgeon on Monday how soon he can put the porta-cath in, maybe I’ll call Dr. Lerner back and ask about opening up the IV drip valve on Friday after all.

That would be Friday the 13th. My unlucky day. (Not that I’m superstitious – it seems to be poetic justice, that’s all.)

Now, to the main (and much-procrastinated) task of today: writing tomorrow’s sermon. This one may get a little personal. I’ve decided to scrap my previously-announced topic and present a sort of case-study about faith, based on a story that’s been in the news. In the midst of the dreadful emotional roller-coaster ride of the friends and family of the lost West Virginia miners, one man seemed to be saying that his faith was riding on the outcome. He told a reporter that, as long as it seemed the twelve miners had been lost, he had been doubting his faith; but then, when the initial report came in that they had been found alive – the report that, in a cruel twist, later proved to be false – he saw God’s hand at work.

Do we believe because God blesses us? Or do we believe just because – because of who God is, and who we are? It’s a very personal question for me right now. I wonder if I’ll be able to offer a convincing answer.


Anonymous said...

Dear Carl, We don't know what to say to you about this latest development except that our prayer is that by HIS GRACE you will receive the treatments that will make you well again. Charlene & Harvey

susan said...

Your sermon was the best answer I have ever heard to this eternal question and more meaningful because of your personal involvement. And while I know, to use your analogy, the pursuit has changed, I have absolute faith that you are doing what you need to do to be healed, the doctors are doing what they need to do and God will provide the rest. God bless.

Mary A. said...

That was a wonderful sermon -- truly, grace shines through your pondering this question..especially now. I found myself in tears at the end, as I suspect much of your congregation must have been.

Blessings and prayers for this next step for you.