An encounter with cancer
Beresford here (15th March, 2014)
Just to let you know that a colonoscopy I had a couple of days ago revealed a cancerous tumor in my bowel that will need to be removed as soon as possible. I've got to have a CT scan first though (on Monday) which will reveal if it has spread elsewhere. If it has then things are obviously pretty serious, but if it is just a lone tumor and no spread then surgery should sort it out OK. We will know the outcome and full results of the CT scan when I see the consultant again next Thursday.
Belinda is a bit shell-shocked but I am very at peace and aware of the Lord being with me. Because such a diagnosis was always a possibility I had prepared myself in the Lord for it, and am just hanging onto Him knowing that He's hanging onto me even harder. We will obviously keep you updated as we find out more and ask for all the prayer you can surround us with. Please don't feel awkward in any way about contacting us; we are carrying on as normal as much as possible and the last thing we would want is people wondering if it's OK to approach us or not.
Take care and God bless.
Beresford’s results (20th March, 2014)
Thanks for your all your prayers. The news is good in that the consultant is confident I am curable and that the cancer has been caught in time. It seems the tumor is a colonic polyp that turned cancerous, remaining undetected until now. There has been a small amount of spread into the appendix and bladder, and whereas I'll doubtless lose the appendix (no big deal apparently), the spread into the bladder (more serious) appears to be minimal with only a small amount needing to be cut away. The tumor, however, along with some of my colon, will be coming out completely.
The not so good news though is that I'll have to have what the consultant termed a 'major operation' in order to facilitate all this, with chemo being needed for a while after I have recovered from the surgery. So it's going to be a long, hard few months, but the consultant assures me there is every chance of full cure and an eventual return to normal life. (Apparently you can lose quite a lot of your colon and hardly notice it.)
So Belinda, Bethany and I are obviously greatly relieved that the results of the scan are as they are and not a death sentence, as they could well have been. The folk who were looking forward to dancing on my grave will therefore have to wait a while longer, though it might be good for them to know that when I do eventually mooch my way off this mortal coil, I have decided to be buried at sea.
The surgery is set for Wednesday April 2nd, and I should be in hospital for a week. So please do continue to remember us in prayer. The fun element in all this has definitely gone up a notch now, and I have 10 days to prepare for the operation, luxuriating in having Belinda and Bethany - and just about everyone else for that matter - wait on me hand and foot. After all, no decent human being would deny a cancer sufferer anything they asked for, would they? I am therefore milking this for all it's worth, and having a total blast into the bargain. (When you've got cancer it's so important to keep your sense of tumor!) The Lord is with me, as are Belinda and Bethany, and I have been declared curable by the medics. What more could I ask for?
Take care and God bless, and please do keep praying for us. We'll keep you all posted whenever there are developments.
Some Reflections (22nd March, 2014)
One or two folks suggested that I share any profound thoughts I might be having concerning what I'm going through, so seeing as this is possibly the first time in my life that I've ever had any, I thought it was quite a good idea. So prepare yourself for some Pastoral Profundities of the Cancerous Kind. Seriously though (and I had to look up 'seriously' in the dictionary to see what it meant), there are gems to be had from the Lord that He only dishes out in times such as I am going through.
Pastoral Profundities of the Cancerous Kind Number 1 - The Lord's peace is astounding. For a week I knew I had a very big tumor and no way of knowing whether or not the outcome of the scan that promptly followed was that I would be told I had, potentially, just weeks to live. I am, of course, relieved beyond words to know now that such is not the case (there are those who would feel differently on that one, but hey, what can you do?), but for seven whole, long, unforgettable days I waited having prepared myself to hear the worst. Yet throughout that week, from the moment the consultant told me I had a tumor, to the moment he told me it was curable, that sickly thud in the chest never came, and the darkness of depression and despair never fell.
I knew, of course, that everything hinged on me deliberately, and definitely, laying hold of the Lord and maintaining thankfulness for all His many blessings to me, the greatest of all being my salvation, and could, I suppose, have taken the route of depression and self-pity instead. But I'm not entirely stupid, and it is, if you think about it, somewhat dim-witted and irrational to suppose that anything changes just because the light has dimmed. The Lord has never changed, nor will He, and He was as worthy of my praise, worship and obedience the moment I found out about the cancer as He was whilst I was still blissfully unaware of it. The verse that therefore dominated my thinking throughout that week was, "Thou shalt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee." So by His grace and mercy, even in what could have been the darkest moment of my life thus far, my thoughts remained more of Him than of me - and, of course, of my beautiful wife and daughter - and the power of the Holy Spirit therefore enabled me to come through what was quite a difficult trial with a very real victory over sin. After having raised the question in a previous update, I can therefore now say, in all honesty, that there is indeed some fun to be had out of having cancer; and it's because Jesus is alive and well and living in old BJ.
Pastoral Profundities of the Cancerous Kind Number 2 - I was obviously aware that Satan was colluding with my wicked and deceitful heart in trying to get me to think things that weren't true, and which would have maligned the Lord in my thinking. In other words, I was constantly aware that the aforementioned temptation to wallow in self-pity was a definite option...and I want to share how the Lord kept me from it. (It is, after all, my natural default!)
Behind self-pity lies the thinking that goes, "It's not fair. It shouldn't happen to me. It hasn't happened to him or her, so why me? It's not fair!" And I do have to admit that it is, in difficult times, both a powerful argument and strong emotional lure. So I decided that, rather than just keep warding it off and rejecting it, I would take an objective look at it in order to examine it properly in the light of both my cancer and God's Word. A further factor here is that the particular tumor I have is associated statistically with people who smoke, eat a life-long unhealthy diet, and neglect to sufficiently exercise. Yet I don't smoke (or at least, haven't done for over 25 years), have always deliberately eaten a good, balanced and healthy diet, and for as long as I can remember have commenced each day with several miles of fast walking. (Editor's note: Three and half miles Chris - every morning! Got it?) So whereas there does appear to be possible cause and effect with some cancers, - if you smoke cigarettes for 50 years and then get lung cancer there is every possibility of a causal connection - I do appear to rather be just one of those biological lightning strikes. So it's not even the case, as with smokers and lung cancer, that this might be in some way my own fault. Did I, therefore, have any basis on which to think that I was being hard done by in some way, or was that notion, as I instinctively knew as a believer must be the case, a demonic deception born of one's sinfulness and worldly thinking. And the conclusion I came to is that it is indeed unfair that I have cancer, and that it is, further, unfair in the extreme. Let me explain.
The night I came to know Jesus some 40 years ago, I knew not only that I wanted to follow Him more than anything else, but that I was a sinner, and that this was why He had died in my place. I knew beyond doubt that I was unclean and that He had washed me as thoroughly as it's possible to do. However, with every year that has since gone by I have also realized that, however deep and profound that supernaturally revealed knowledge of my sin that night was - and it was extremely deep and profound - it was nevertheless but the tiniest glimpse. Or to put it another way, if that night was me becoming aware of a few blots of ink on the pages of my life, I was to all too soon realize that the real problem was not so much the blots of ink as the ink-pot from which they came...Me!!!! And forty years later my awareness of my sinfulness is such that I have to just hang on for dear life every day to the grace, mercy and forgiveness that the Lord keeps showering on me.
Fairness, of course, is tied up with the notion of things like justice, getting what one deserves, a moral balancing of the books - stuff like that! It is, for instance, immensely unfair should an innocent man be imprisoned for a crime someone else had committed. So I ask the question: Do I deserve this? Is it fair that I have cancer? And my answer is: No, it is not fair! It is not fair at all, and for the simple reason that, if I view my situation from the angle of fairness and justice, I am forced to conclude that the truth of the matter is that I deserve, in fact, far, far worse. Indeed, I actually deserve eternity in the Lake of Fire; an eternity of physical suffering that makes even the worst cancer look like a mild ache and pain in comparison. If I was to get what I deserve then I wouldn't be sitting here at home with Belinda and Bethany enjoying the day and writing profundities such as these. No! I would be already long be dead and gone and suffering eternal damnation!
How, therefore, can I feel sorry for myself, or think myself hard done by, just because I've got a tumor and need some serious surgery followed by chemotherapy. If someone who had been convicted of murder received a small fine from the Judge instead of a custodial sentence, or even the death penalty, then he may well conclude that, although the proceedings weren't very fair from the point of view of justice being done, they were unfair very much in his favor. He would, in fact, be positively jubilant precisely because of that unfairness of it all. So do I deserve what I am now going through? Is it fair? And the answer is: No, it's not fair. It’s not fair at all and I don't deserve it. And the reason is that I actually deserve far worse. It's unfair, yes, but like a murderer who gets off lightly with a mere fine, is unfair massively in my favor. But of course this whole situation is even more joyous than simply that, because of course the fact that I have cancer is nothing whatsoever to do with the Lord judging me or punishing me for my sin anyway. The punishment for my sin went on Jesus two thousand years ago. I will never face that because I am justified, because of faith in Him, and have been made utterly righteous in His sight. So it’s divine child training, of course! It is character formation and ongoing growth and maturity in Him, yes! But punishment for being a sinner? Of course not! Perish the thought! That's what Jesus suffered for us on the Cross! He took the punishment for our sins, indeed, for the sins of the whole world!
So hey, let's get rid of all this stuff in our thinking and outlook about what's fair in our lives and what isn't In our relationships and dealings with others we should, as believers, be the most fair-minded and justice-conscious people anyone could ever meet, but when it comes to whatever subjective unpleasantness we go through in our own lives and discipleship, then what is and isn't fair simply isn't the point. Trusting the Lord is! I am obviously fully aware that there are many, many people massively worse off than I am, and I am grateful to the Lord that he limits our trials and testing to what He knows we can handle in His grace and power, and that I am, in that respect, getting off relatively lightly; but irrespective of our sufferings, none of us, whether believers or unbelievers, have even come close to ever getting what we actually deserve in this life as a result of being sinners. But of course the joy unspeakable for those of us who know the Lord is that, unlike those who reject the Lord and refuse His salvation, we won't get what we deserve in the next life either.
So no! Of course it's not fair that I've got cancer! I deserve far worse!
Pastoral Profundities of the Cancerous Kind Number 3 - The absolute worst this cancer, or anything or anyone else can do to me, is get me to the Lord in Heaven sooner than I expected. Do I want that? Well, yes and no! I want to be with Him in Heaven, of course, and nothing can prevent that, but I want to go there with Belinda and Bethany in tow as well. Or to put it the other way round, I desperately don't want to leave my beloved wife and daughter behind. And here is one of those paradoxes I so love to teach about (and which so upset Doctrinalists): the moment I get to Heaven with the Lord, I won't want to come back down here. And I know beyond doubt, because of what scripture teaches, that such is an absolute and certain truth. Yet even knowing it to be such, and I truly do know that it is an absolute and certain truth, it remains the very worst prospect I could imagine from this side in time of it happening. In other words, when it is history and I am already there, I will see it as the best thing that's ever happened to me; but whilst it is in the future, it is positively the worst prospect I could envisage - except, of course, if anything happened to Belinda and/or Bethany, and they beat me to it leaving me behind. (I said this was going to be profound, eh?)
OK. I'm going to leave that one there before I get upset even thinking of such a possibility.
(Dramatic pause for the purpose of gathering oneself!)
Right, I'm back now and absolutely fine.
So what can I say? All is well with the BJ's and we are looking to the Lord for a great future yet to come. Although I'm going to be out of it for a while in that I won't be able to carry on my work quite as usual, I am very much aware that the Lord has plenty yet for me to do. There's important teaching still to be done, churches to yet be started and nurtured, and doctrinal and moral Pharisees, and especially those in so-called house church circles, to be upset and annoyed. The next few months are on the iffy side, to be sure, but the overall outlook really is rather rosy.
Take care and God bless, and do please keep on praying; and not just for me either, but for Belinda and Bethany as well.
PS I just found out some really upsetting news. According to the post-operative literature, which I have just read whilst Belinda checked through this email for typos, I won't be able to do vacuuming, housework in general or carry heavy shopping for 6 weeks after surgery. I am, of course, completely gutted!!! Pray for me!!!
BJ Quote of the Day (23rd March, 2014)
I have discovered in the Lord that the best way to handle having a cancerous tumor is to enjoy life so much that everybody else will want one too.
BJ Quote (23rd March, 2014)
Told you I wasn't well!!!
My Thought For the Day (24th March, 2014)
It's strange to think that every cancer begins with just one tiny cell that malfunctions and multiplies, and that there is absolutely no way of knowing when such a profound and devastating biological event has taken place in one. No sufferer can ever know that exact moment cancer appears and strikes for the very first time.
We know from the consultant that, because the tumor inside me is so large (the size of a grapefruit, apparently), it's obviously been there for quite some time. So I have been wondering: Where was I the actual moment it struck, when that very first cell turned rogue and started doing it's terrible and cancerous thing? What was I doing at that fateful moment when such biological terrorism was unleashed against me? Was I at home in England watching Star Trek, or helping Belinda and Bethany with the shopping, or away teaching somewhere? Or, given the amount of time we spend travelling in the US, were we on those distant shores when the silent genetic lightning strike, that has so changed my life for the duration of this year, happened?
It has occurred to me, given that we drive through Tennessee so regularly, that it might even have happened as we headed north on I-75 on the outskirts of Chattanooga. We can't know for sure, of course, but just in case it did happen there I have decided to call my cancer the Chattanooga Choo Choo-mor!
Beresford here (27th March, 2014)
I trust all is well. Sorry about the weird emails that went out from us yesterday, but we got hacked. We have corrected the situation now, but it's nevertheless a pain. And it got me to thinking that, in the same way that a computer virus did something destructive with our email yesterday without us even knowing, my cancer is a bit like something having 'hacked' my body, and doing something destructive to it without me knowing at the time either.
Thankfully, in the same way that we could take remedial steps so as to be able to carry on using our email as if nothing had happened, so can the medics, as it were, 'reset' me; though it's obviously a somewhat more elaborate process. With our email account we just had to go through our security set up and change the password, but in the case of my cancer the remedy has to be somewhat more radical. But the point is that I should be using my body normally again in a few months, the cancer, as with our email virus, having been eradicated.
Belinda and I are now going through the provided literature from the hospital regarding the upcoming procedure, a pre-op assessment having been arranged for this Friday. And yesterday, for the first time, I started to get nervous about the operation. I am sadly more squeamish than most, and not known for my physical courage. My experience of victory over pain to date is not screaming too loudly, or cussing too badly, when I stub my toe. Having experienced the relief of having been told my cancer was curable - certainly the best news I got that particular morning - and having lived like a King since with my Queen and Princess in waiting on me virtually non-stop, I have that sinking feeling that I've got to start being actively brave again as I face what is to follow.
Not that I got nervous because of fears about not surviving the surgery though. That outcome isn't really on the cards, and although no general anesthesia is completely safe (I've never had one before), to not survive it would be as much a lightning strike as getting cancer in the first place. I'm just dead nervous (oops, a bit of unfortunate terminology there) about the whole slice and dice aspect, plus the pain involved, along with the sheer inconvenience of the whole recovery process. Thankfully the nervousness only lasted a couple of hours yesterday, and I was able to get my mind back on the Lord (and a good film) and peace returned. I am glad to say that I am still at peace this morning, but I know the nerves will obviously continue to come and go, getting worse and worse as the big day approaches; and of course that makes me apprehensive about the encroaching apprehension itself. (Does that make sense or has the cancer spread to my brain? Do I even have a brain for it to spread to? Must get some tests done after all this to find out!)
So do keep praying for me, and for Belinda and Bethany as well of course, who are, I think, more nervous than I am. We're still doing fine though, and looking to the Lord as ever.
Take care and God bless.
Update (28th March, 2014)
Many thanks for your ongoing prayers. I haven't had any more nervousness since that dodgy couple of hours on Wednesday, and life's gone back to feeling more like I'm on an impromptu vacation than coming up for cancer surgery. I keep saying to folk that no one with cancer has the right to feel this good. And it is wonderful that Belinda stopped feeling nervous yesterday as well and is very much at peace too. Bethany is also doing great as, and I am so proud and thrilled to be able to say this, she always does. This is obviously down to the Lord, but still nevertheless through all your prayers, such being the way He normatively chooses to work. So many thanks, and please do keep it up for us. We are so moved and encouraged by the love and support being shown to us by so many.
The pre-op assessment is later this morning so it obviously remains to be seen if I'll return from that a nervous wreck. Unlikely, I think, though, given the way the Lord is undertaking for us. It would, I think, be harder to not trust Him than to actually do so. And I think this is why I am, it would appear, doing so well in Him through this. I boil it down to two things.
Firstly, although there was that initial week of not knowing if we were going to find out that I was incurable and close to death, and I am amazed how happy the Lord kept me through that, since we have known that I am perfectly curable the difficulty factor has dropped enormously. Indeed, I have spent a lot of time musing on how much worse off so many cancer sufferers are compared to me, let alone how many people are just so much more worse off than me in general; and this has made me realize that what I am going through isn't actually that much of a big deal anyway. More, thus far, of an impromptu vacation than actual suffering. I have Belinda and Bethany with me, and people are praying for us on literally all five continents. A great advantage indeed!
But secondly, I have concluded that the Lord, because He knows me so well, knew He just had to up the dose of grace and virtually just completely override me, given the complete and utter disaster this would have been were I just left to myself. It's a bit like comparing His grace to the anesthesia I'll be given during the operation. What the surgeons will be doing to me next Wednesday will, by definition, inflict significant pain and trauma on my body. But will I be screaming in agony? No! (Phew!!!) But is that because I am brave and courageous and able to handle terrible pain as if it wasn't there? No! It will be because the anesthesia is completely overriding my nerve endings, actually preventing me from subjectively experiencing what my body will be going through.
And isn't that just like God's grace? His love, life, power and holiness actually overriding our sinfulness and depravity! Isn't this what '...reckon yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus…' is all about? (Romans 6v11.) And what do we have to do for our part? Just believe that it is true and live accordingly! Just believe that it is what He has done, and is doing, for, in and through us, and thus act on it. It's not actually us at all, it's Jesus living in and through us in our place.
So I feel I have to put the record a bit straight here. A lot of folk are telling me that I'm doing great and being a really good example, and to my shame I do have to admit that I have entertained proud and self-righteous thoughts as a consequence. But of course I'm not doing great at all. The Lord Jesus is doing great in me, through me and for me. It's Him doing it, not me. Just as the absence of screams during the operation will be down to the anesthesia and not any bravery and stoic forbearing of terrible pain on my part, so this 'example' that people tell me I am being is purely down to Him. And that is brilliant news! At least it is for me! You see, I know me! I know what I am and I know what I am like! I also know what the Lord is and what He is like! Which, therefore, would I rather experience? It's a no brainer! He must increase and I must decrease!
Following the Lord is not merely about having a changed life; it is about having an exchanged one. Jesus didn't just exchange His righteousness for my sin, He also exchanged His very life for mine. It is Jesus living in us. That is the Christian life, and nothing less. And if anyone doubts that such is the case, and I lose sight of it from time to time myself, then just look at me as I go through this. I am living proof of the grace of which I speak. If I can experience victory in the Lord during such a time as this, then believe me, absolutely any believer can.
Take care and God bless.
Good Morning from BJ (29th March, 2014)
I trust you are all well and blossoming in the Lord. Again, thank you so much for your love and prayers. The pre-op assessment went fine yesterday - except for them wanting even more blood - and it was encouragingly informative as well. Over the last couple of weeks they've examined and tested me pretty thoroughly, this obviously being needed to establish my general health, strength and fitness. The outcome is that I appear to be built like a tank and am as fit and healthy as it gets, apart from a small matter of a tumor that needs removing. Someone having open surgery, as I am, as opposed to keyhole, would not normally be put on the Enhanced Recovery Programme, and would normally be in hospital after such a procedure for 7-10 days. However, they have put me on it anyway and are planning to send me home just 4 days after the op. So that is brilliant! It's a trade-off, of course, and will be the tougher and more painful route, but also the best for a speedier and medically recommended recovery. So it really is a no brainer. In the extensive medical questionnaire I had to fill out there is a section dealing with known allergies. There are a couple of antibiotics I am allergic to, but the other two things I put down were "pain and any form of discomfort.' They obviously think I'm up for it anyway though.
Another thing that has been on my mind, and of which I have been especially fearful, is one of the possible complications that can arise pertaining to the actual surgery. So when we last saw our consultant, who will be heading up the operative team, I explained it to him and asked if he might take a photograph of me into the operating theatre with him. The tumor is rather large (I know this because I've seen the photos of it) and it's not very pretty, so having cut it out and sown me back up I am obviously keen to minimize any risk of confusion and to insure they don't send the tumor to the Recovery Ward by mistake and send me off to the lab for further tests. (It's a small thing, and it might not matter to anyone else...but it matters to me!)
I want at this point to say a 'thank you' to those who have offered books and information about cancer, pertaining to both its medical and dietary aspects. But I also wanted to clarify why I haven't availed myself of any of it. Three reasons:
Firstly, Belinda and I are so overwhelmed with information, literature and advice - both medical and dietary - from the team responsible for my treatment, that we are quite unable, or desirous, to digest anything further. We have obviously done some research on the internet so as to be as informed as possible, but we are at capacity on that general score.
Secondly, there is never a shortage of theories or ideas about absolutely everything, cancer treatment included, and one doesn't have to look far before one comes across a veritable mountain of competing theories and treatments for it. The trouble is, though, that not only are they contradictory they are also, for the most part, without proper evidence as to their scientific and medical validity. Indeed, Belinda and I have known a few people over the years who have suffered from cancer and were already aware of a lot of the stuff that flies around, and much of it is the medical equivalent of the supposed healing ministries of the likes of Benny Hinn or Oral Roberts. There are even those whose treatment for cancer is based on the claim that it is actually really easy to cure, but that the medical profession is suppressing this knowledge due to a conspiracy they are conducting with the drug companies, and that the worst thing to do is precisely what the mainstream medical profession says is the right thing to do; that is, surgically remove the cancer where possible and do chemotherapy or radiotherapy. Instead you need to - yes, you've guessed it - buy their books and pay to go to their clinics to get this medically suppressed treatment that only they know about and provide. It's a complete minefield, and of course the other point is this: Even when one does come across ideas outside of mainstream that seem to be sensible, but which conflict with each other, then on what possible basis does one decide which to embrace? Whatever way you look at it, it's a pure shot in the dark, the mere toss of a coin. And of course the terrible thing is that if you do gamble and get it wrong then you radically increase the chances of dying from the cancer because of the time wasted in having pursued the wrong treatment and having not, therefore, by definition, had the right treatment.
Thirdly, the cancer may well be, almost quite literally, at the centre of my body (the bowel), but the centre of my universe is reserved purely for the Lord Jesus, closely followed by Belinda and Bethany. In other words, I have no intention of thinking about my cancer more than my Lord, wife and daughter, or, for that matter, everyone else I know. The tragedy is that even we Christians can let this happen if we are not careful, the cancer - or whatever else it might be - becoming our sole thought and concern. What, after all, could be more spiritually damaging in a situation such as mine than an obsessive search for treatment that pushes everything, and everyone, else aside until the cancer virtually becomes one's only thought, motivation and concern? Such is not the peace and contentment the Lord brings, and all of us can experience that peace if we but keep our minds stayed on Him. So, ought one conduct sensible research so as to be as well informed as reasonably possible? Of course! That’s definitely a sensible move! Knowledge is, after all, power! But we must be careful to ensure that it doesn't become frantic or panicky, or that we end up grabbing at straws instead of continuously reaching out to the Lord.
How can I put this? I have a cancer in me about which I can do nothing, except to trust the Lord and put myself in the hands of the surgeon, along with his scalpel. It is in me! Indeed, it is actually, both biologically and truly, a biological part of me! But it is not me myself...I am! And when people meet me, whether new folk or those I have known for years, I don't want them to be in the presence of someone who is living only to deal with their cancer. I want them to meet Beresford! Beresford, who loves Jesus, who has a wife and daughter he also loves beyond words, who looks after folk and demonstrates and teaches what the Bible says, who is part of a church in Epping and who is catching up on Star Trek, plus some other good sci-fi stuff, because of the extra leisure time he currently has. Oh yes, Beresford who also has cancer at the moment, but who is working on that too! Do you get the point? I hope so, because I think it matters!
So when it comes to the medical side of things, what is clear to Belinda and I is that not only does mainstream medicine have a pretty good record when it comes to cancer (and loads of other things too), it is getting better all the time. Further, if the medics and drug company employees know really that there is a dead cert cure for cancer, but just aren't telling anyone about it, then why do the majority of people in those professions who get cancer themselves go through mainstream treatment rather than this 'suppressed' curative treatment that would cure them easily and without a doubt? Don't be taken in by it all! Don't ever let fear lead to gullibility! Let it lead you to the Lord!
So what about prevention then? What about diet? What about lifestyle? What are our intentions regarding all that? Well, because I have always been an avid walker (three and a half miles every day, though obviously not at the moment), and because I have always eaten a good, balanced and sensible diet (low on refined sugar, processed foods and, also, on calories too) then I won't actually be planning to make any great changes at all, excepting, of course, necessitated by changes in the ability of my body to digest things after the operation. Ironically, the medics are telling me that for the first few months after the operation, and because of the type of operation it is, my diet will need to actually be the opposite of what is would be normally. It will need to be very low on fibre, and with everything being 'white.' That is; white rice, white bread, cakes, cheese, cookies, ice cream, desserts, etc. (I can have meat and sauces as well, of course, but it also limits most vegetables.) And this is because my body will need to first adapt to very easily digested foods that remain in the gut for the least amount of time before it can go on and get used to the more healthy diet I would normally eat which goes for the opposite; that is, food that takes longer to digest such as high fibre material and vegetables.
So again, I find some real plusses here. For me, things like ice cream, bread and cheese, cakes, rice pudding etc have only ever been occasional treats because I have always had to watch my weight and limit calories. But after the operation, from Sunday, in fact, they are going to become a major part of my diet for some time. And you can be assured that I will make the absolute most of it while it lasts.
Oh yes, another thing. This has amazed the medics, but even though I have this whacking great big tumor, and even though it has, or so they tell me, been there for quite some time, I haven't lost any weight at all, and my appetite has remained absolutely normal throughout. So get ready, cos I'm going to have a good old moan now!
Am I destined to be just about the only person in the whole solar system who gets cancer...and doesn't lose weight?????!!!!!
Forget everything I wrote about justice in that email the other day and what we do and don't deserve: It’s not fair!!! It’s not fair at all and I wish to register a complaint!!!
So there you go. I'm ending on a grumble! (Think I've earned the right to a couple by now.)
Take care and God bless.
Disgruntled in Essex
An Update plus a Thought (30th March, 2014)
I trust you are blossoming in the Lord and having a great time. I've always believed that information is power. Which is, I suppose, just another way of saying what Jesus taught about the truth setting us free. But of course this also means that the information we need to act on, that is, the truth we need to believe in order to be set free, is sometimes less than palatable. In a fallen world how could it be otherwise? And as a result of the pre-op assessment on Friday, as well as the tremendous encouragement of the medical confirmation of my overall health and fitness in having been put on to the Enhanced Recovery Programme, I also found out what I am going to be doing for the 48 hours before the operation...and I am not a happy bunny!
Today and tomorrow (Sunday and Monday) I have to eat easily digested stuff like ice cream, sponge cake, rice pudding, lean meat in nice sauces, white bread and cheese etc etc. Regarding this I don't, of course, foresee any problems. Indeed, I am actually feeling like a kid in a candy store and am buoyed by the knowledge that, after the operation, I get to stay on such a diet for a couple of months. But things change after 8am on Tuesday, and then even more so after 6am on Wednesday, the day of the operation. I'm not sure how best to describe my feelings concerning what I have to then go through, but a descent into the seventh circle of hell would, I think, come fairly close.
I get to eat a light breakfast at 8am on Tuesday (no problem there), after which I get no food at all, being allowed to drink only water. But that is mild compared to the rest of it. In two sessions, one at 10am and another at 4pm, I have to drink two litres of a liquid compound whose sole function is to ensure that, by the time I go to bed, everything that was on my inside when I got up, is, by then, well and truly on my outside.
Now as if a whole day in the restroom, languishing with hunger, isn't bad enough, this compound, which I have had to have once before, is as completely and utterly DISGUSTING as anything I have ever drunk in my whole life. It is FOUL in the absolute extreme. But more than that - and I trust that sympathy will soon be flowing like Niagara Falls - it is massively high in salt, this being the result of the electrolytes in it that replace the necessary depletion it causes as it virtually completely dehydrates me. (Wow! Doesn't this just sound like so much FUN???!!! ) And of course just to top it off, the only other thing I can have throughout this carnage is plain water, which doesn't even come close to countering the taste of this stuff, which I can only describe as moose droppings blended with raccoon pee, plus about a cup of cooking salt.
BUT IT GETS WORSE! (Yes, you read that right! It actually gets worse!) "But how can it?" I hear you gasp. Well, I will tell you then! The next morning I get a glass of water at 6am, and then nothing else at all until after the operation. Now I obviously won't care once I'm under the anesthetic, but I'm not due to get to the hospital until 11am that morning, and the operation isn't until after lunch. (Aaarrgh!!! Must stay away from words like lunch!!!!)
So basically, I will be dying not only of hunger, but of thirst too, dehydrated, weak, forlorn, pathetic, pitiful - the poorest old sausage, in fact, that anyone could ever meet - feeling possibly more sorry for myself than I have ever done before. (Something I am extremely good at it!) Thus will be my descent on Tuesday and Wednesday into the seventh circle of hell. Indeed, I may well end up being the first person in history to interrupt major surgery being done on him with a trip to the hospital canteen for a quick cheese sandwich and cup of coffee.
But I'm not sharing all this just to garner sympathy. I am sharing it to garner sympathy, of course, but I am not sharing it just to garner sympathy. There is actually something of great importance to be said here, and it's this: It is worth asking, "Why would any sensible person do to himself what I have just described?" I mean, it's crazy, isn't it? On Tuesday morning I'm going to get out of bed and say to myself, "Now what shall I do today? Ah yes, I know! I'll set up camp in the bathroom and starve myself for 48 hours. Yeah, that sounds good! Then I'll drink a load of that stuff the medics gave me that tastes like moose droppings in racoon pee, put a load of salt in it, completely dehydrate myself, make myself feel as sick as a dog for the duration, and make my mouth feel like the floor of a banqueting suite in which the Democrats have just had an all-night party. Then the next day I can crawl to a hospital and get myself cut open for 6 hours and sown up again. Golly! Won't it be fun!!!
I mean, why would anyone do that? And of course the answer is simple! I am going to do it because medical experts have assured me that if I do they will be able to save my life and make me better! I have therefore decided to submit to their instructions. I have decided that I am going to obey what they have told me to the letter! I am going to concern myself, to the very best and fullest extent of my ability, with doing exactly what I have been instructed to do. And why? Because it's going to not only save my life in the short term, it's going to ensure that I can go on to live a normal one once the effects of it all have worn off, and once I am recovered. So why would I submit to such seeming madness? Answer: Precisely because I am completely sane! Or, to put it another way, people who know better than us sometimes have to tell us to do some extremely difficult and unpleasant things for our own good. If we obey, then all will be well. But if we disobey, then all will not be well. Can you see where this is going?
There are things in scripture that don't sit either naturally or easily with us. Why not? Because we are sinners! Putting others before ourselves, for example, doesn't come naturally to us. Why not? Because we are naturally selfish! Saying sorry to someone we have wronged them can often be an unpleasant prospect. Why? Because we are naturally proud, and because we don't want to risk making ourselves vulnerable to people! And I have no doubt at all that it is at times as uncomfortable and difficult for wives to know they have to submit to their husbands as it is for us husbands, selfish blockheads that we can so easily be, to love our wives as Jesus loves the church. Having to refrain from immorality when I was a young single disciple, to give another example, didn't sit particularly comfortably with me either, but it was what the Lord required of me, so that settled it.
So once we understand that it makes complete and utter sense for me to surrender in obedience to the medics, even though they are telling me to do such unpleasant things to myself, how much more should it make sense for us to understand the vital importance of living in full and ongoing obedience to everything the Bible teaches - to the whole counsel of God - knowing that He knows best, and that everything He requires of us, however difficult, unpleasant or unpalatable we may find it at the time, is purely for our own ultimate good and personal well-being. My current obedience to my consultant and his team is going to save me from a cancerous tumor in my body; but my obedience to the Lord, which can only be measured by my obedience to His written Word, is, far more importantly, saving me from my spiritual, mental and emotional cancer.
The Bible teaches some pretty radical stuff, which, sadly, many believers just turn a blind eye to. It's not, for example, easy to live consistently with the realization that our money isn't actually ours at all, but the Lord's. But not only that, He actually loves for us to spread it around and to quite willingly and happily share it out to others! That may be difficult, just like my descent next Tuesday into the seventh circle of hell is going to be far from easy, but how ridiculous, how totally and ludicrously daft to not do what scripture says in such regard, and to live with, for instance, the cancer of the love of money, the root of all kinds of evil. It may not be easy, but the alternative is far, far worse.
Neither is it easy to live on the basis and acknowledgement that my time is no more mine than is the money in my wallet. We work hard, and then, when we get home, we want to just pull up the drawbridge and enjoy our free time, our leisure time, without interruption or inconvenience. But I say No! A thousand times No! It's not our time at all! It is no more ours than is our money! The scripture says that our times are in His hand, and of course the point is that you hold in your hand what is yours. And the Lord holds our time in His hand precisely because it is His and not ours at all. Am I, therefore, saying that it is wrong to spend money on oneself for pure pleasure beyond the necessary bills and expenses of daily life, or to have leisure time just to oneself and one’s family? No, of course I am not saying that! But what I am saying is that it should be what the Lord allocates to us day-to-day and week-to-week, and not just what we decide, as if the decision was ours and not His.
So be reassured, I haven't described what I have to soon go through just because I'm being self-indulgent and looking for sympathy. There is so much to learn in difficulties and tribulation, and I am learning afresh that when James told Christians in his letter to welcome such difficulties and trials and testing as friends, he knew exactly what he was talking about. In the natural it doesn't make any sense at all, but in the light of a Holy God sanctifying His children because He loves us so much, it is the most logical thing there is, and surrendering to it is the wisest, the cleverest and the most sensible thing we could possibly do.
So no, I'm not just after sympathy...but I'll still happily accept any that gets dished out. Have a great day and do send my regards to all at your churches today. Take care and God bless.
A Further Thought (30th March, 2014)
As I have already mentioned, for a whole week, having been diagnosed with an extremely large tumor, we didn't know whether my condition was curable or not, and we faced the likely possibility of being told that I had maybe only weeks to live. We were, of course, jubilant to discover at the end of that week that such was not the case, and that I was quite curable. But one of the things the Lord had me ponder during that time, and it had never even vaguely occurred to me before, was that, as a recognized elder, my function is not merely to be an example to others as to how to live, but also how to die. And I think that dying well could be by far the more important of those two things.
Have a great day.
Jesus and Diet (31st March, 2014)
My current situation has caused me to give some thought regarding what scripture teaches concerning diet, and whether or not, outside of being generally sensible, and eating good wholesome well-rounded fare, Christians should engage in permanent dietary regimes which would, by any measure, be considered unusual or even extreme. In other words, should we fear, for example, sugar and/or carbohydrates in general? Or fat? Or protein? Or anything else found in nature for us to eat?
I am therefore attaching an article I have been working on which aims to be both scientifically accurate - it is based on the best possible research - as well as being biblically comprehensive and definitive. I really do think that it leaves little further to be said. I hope it is a blessing to you
Take care and God bless.