I have been writing this since the moment of my diagnosis. I have been unwriting it for just as long. The morning before I suffered the seizure that fractured my spine it began, “I still have cancer.” Four nights ago it began, “I’m wearing on my fingers seventeen bandages.” Tonight I’ll start with someone else’s words, the findings of my most recent PET-CT scan:
“Previously noted abnormal foci of glucose metabolism in the C2, T1, T7, T9 and T12 vertebral bodies are no longer evident…metastatic bone lesions in the cervical and thoracic spine appear to have healed.”
My spine is cancer free. (Read this sentence again.)
I have had cancer in my lung, spine, hip, liver, and adrenal glands. I now have cancer in the upper lobe of my right lung alone. And this cancer is all of one-third the size it was in December, which was by then already significantly reduced in size from the time of my original diagnosis the month before.
I still have cancer. And I am currently wearing ten of the twenty or so daily bandages that provide a modicum of comfort to the sores on my fingertips which my cancer medication daily renews. But let me be clear: I am healing. I am healing and I am healing because of the prayers and material support I have received. Were it not for the financial assistance my family has received these past three months, we would not have been able to sustain the financial commitment my specialized diet continues to demand. But of even greater importance and significance, the vulnerability of my circumstance, my genuine dependence upon others, has given me the opportunity not only to be witness to but to be the recipient of a goodness as simple as it is gratuitous. To each of you I am only one person, but to me you are collectively coming to my aid simultaneously, which is all but overwhelming to comprehend. Quite honestly, these past three months of illness have been among the happiest and most transformative of my life.
Since returning from Iraq I have suffered from a cynicism touching every part of my life. Seeing the degree to which so many have shown their desire to sacrifice on behalf of another (namely, on my behalf) has made it quite nearly impossible to sustain this cynicism. I have been given back a hope I remember from childhood, but which has been chastened by suffering and baptized by the voluntarity of love. And I am a happier man, happier by far than the man who existed prior to the diagnosis of early November. As with all resurrections, first had to come a crucifixion. First had to die that other man, and with him the death he had come to know, a death conquered by the love you have extended to me.
Thank you. Thank you, Friends. Thank you, Christ.
I have more to say. And I will do so as the days go on. For now, though, share with me the joy of this moment. My mother felt she was asked by God to pray for the miraculous. The speed of my physical recovery is proving nothing short of this. The depth of my emotional and spiritual recovery is proving much more.