I haven’t been writing much lately, what with frequent trips to the city for medical appointments and dealing with the troubling news that has come from those appointments. Now that things are beginning to settle down, I want to give a brief status report before I get back to writing about other things.
My wife appears to have Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia. I say “appears” because we understand it would take a bone marrow test for a definitive diagnosis. Nevertheless, the elevated white cell count and lymphocyte count are strongly indicative of CLL. This was shocking news, but once we got over the shock we realized that the future doesn’t look all that bleak. Many people live for 15, 20 or even 30 years with CLL and do not require drastic treatments.
In fact, it was rather a relief to have a name for the fatigue and other symptoms that Chris was experiencing. She had felt that there must be something terribly wrong with her – she must be terribly out of condition, or sometimes she felt that she must be just plain lazy that she felt so weary after a day’s work. Now that she knows that there really is something wrong with her, the guilt at least is gone. She told me yesterday that the fatigue doesn’t necessarily correlate with the amount of work she does. She spent several days working in the garden last week and felt fine afterwards. Another time, after a fairly light day of work, she feels beat.
Chris had another form of cancer when she was 27. We went to the elders of the church, they had an anointing and a prayer for healing, then counselled us to follow the doctor’s advice as to the form of treatment to be done. She had surgery, followed by chemotherapy and remained healthy and cancer free up ‘til now. Our daughter was eight years old back then. She and her husband will soon celebrate their 14th wedding anniversary, their three oldest children will be 11, 9 and 7 this summer and the youngest will be three in fall. We expect that Grandma will live to see them grow up, too.
We got another piece of advice 33 years ago, that I found quite troubling at the time. A brother from another province heard of my wife’s cancer and sent a letter urgently advising me to take her to a certain doctor in Mexico. The tone of the letter seemed to suggest that I would be negligent if I did not follow his advice.
Around the same time, a sister in Pennsylvania was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. She and her husband were new Christians with small children and everyone felt a great sympathy for them. However, God granted this sister such a peace and joy in her suffering that she was a comfort and encouragement to all who came to comfort and encourage her. We visited her twice, a year apart, and she told us the hardest thing to take was all the well-meaning brothers and sisters who came suggesting a miraculous herbal remedy for her cancer. The suggested remedies were different, yet it appeared to her that each one proffering a remedy seemed to feel that if she did not take their suggested remedy it would be her fault if she died.
There was an anointing prayer for healing and fellow believers from far and wide continued to pray for her healing. She underwent the best treatments available at the National Cancer Centre at Bethesda, Maryland. She chose not to try any of the suggested herbal remedies and she did die. But she died in peace. Would it have helped her to put her faith in modern-day medicine men? I really don’t believe it would have, more likely it would have led her to put her trust in something else than God.
I understand that many people do not agree with me in this. But I hope that all will respect our wishes not to be showered with suggestions of miracle working Mexican physicians or herbal remedies.