Sixteen years ago I was diagnosed with an advanced, invasive form of cancer. At the time I was told that the mortality rate for my disease was about 50%. That means that within 5 years, half of the folks who have the same type of cancer as I had would be dead.
Since my first surgery and chemotherapy sessions, my cancer has come back half a dozen times. Before my initial hospitalization, I viewed myself as untouchable. No matter what life threw at me, I never missed a day of school or a day of work. I was a rock of consistency. Yet the news of my cancer completely shattered my self image. Suddenly I had come to see myself mortal, as finite. Now every ache, pain, and cough can send my anxiety levels skyrocketing. Has my disease come back? Can I survive its infiltration this time?
Each year I go into my oncologist for my detailed checkup. If the puff of smoke is white, I have bought myself another 12 months of relative calm and assurance. If the puff is black, I will be under the knife within a day or two and all of the chips that I amassed over the months since the last dark cloud are immediately forfeited. However, when my system is found "clean", I am struck by the folks that strongly declare to me "Praise the Lord!" This seems to be an entirely inappropriate declaration. Shouldn't that be the correct response whether I am cancer-free or tumors fill my body? You cannot have things both ways. If one outcome is from God, then the other must be too.
Today I will be at the oncologist for my yearly examination. I can assure you that it will be a pretty unpleasant day for me physically. Yet I hope that no matter the outcome, I can declare with all of my heart, "Praise the Lord!"