MY BATTLE WITH CANCER (Written by Sis. Anne Tan)
The word “cancer” is usually one word that many fear to hear from their doctors. When your doctor pronounces that you’ve got cancer of this or that, it’s almost like hearing a death sentence passed on you. My maternal aunt died of breast cancer. My eldest sister had ovary cancer and my second sister had breast cancer. So this is a doubly-feared word that runs in our family. But that did not bother me. It did not occur to me that I, too, might one day face this dilemma. I reckon I took things easy and was never much of a worrier.
Then, one day, about ten years ago, I was diagnosed with cancer of the kidney. According to the oncologist, it had been festering in my right kidney for a number of years without my knowing it. There were no symptoms other than the occasional backache and hypertension which I attributed to work stress. By the time it was discovered, it was too late and I had to have the whole kidney removed. By then, my left kidney had developed chronic kidney disease and I was told that it was a matter of time before I would need dialysis. This kidney too was not behaving. Praise God it has been ten years now and I am still zipping around without having to go on dialysis.
Two and a half years ago, I discovered that I had cancer of the colon. So there we went again. It meant another stay in the hospital, another major surgery. I prayed that God would give wisdom to the colorectal surgeon and that everything would go smoothly. Two days before my surgery, I had a bad dream. I had fallen into a deep dark hole. I tried climbing up but the sides were slippery and each time I ventured to climb, I slipped further down. I remember praying, calling out to Jesus and asking for help. I looked up, saw a light and a figure passing by. I was pretty sure it was a man though I could not actually see his face clearly. I shouted and called out to him to help me. He stretched out his hand and pulled me up. I woke up in cold sweat. Funny, it did not occur to me then how this person’s hand could be so long and so strong that with just one tug, I could be pulled out of that deep hole!
During the surgery, the surgeon made a slip and whilst doing a colon resection he accidentally nicked my spleen. I was bleeding profusely. He said I would have died had he not made the quick decision to cut off my spleen and stop the bleeding. Later he apologized for not ringing up my husband or daughter to get permission to remove the spleen which is the normal practice. A delay would mean a matter of life and death. He also mentioned that I could sue him for the blunder. I promised him that I would not. After all, I was sure (and still am) that he did not do it on purpose. What would I gain by suing him? Money? But that was not going to give me back my spleen and I would ruin his career when the court case is flashed in the daily news. No, that would be unfair to him and his family. He was very grateful but I was equally grateful for his quick thinking which saved my life.
Since my second surgery, I have been on a daily dose of antibiotics because of the loss of my spleen. I go for regular checkups and blood tests and the colorectal surgeon had been monitoring my health. Gentleman that he is, he did not bill me for the surgery nor for all the trips to see him after that.
In February of this year, 2012, after my usual blood test, the alarm bell rang. My CEA had gone up. That was a bad sign. I was supposed to fly back to Malaysia immediately after the Chinese New Year but the surgeon advised against it. He insisted I went for more blood tests and by the third test, he confirmed that something was absolutely wrong. He arranged for a CT scan for me followed by a PET scan. The result? Three spots on the three different lobes of my right lung. My daughter started calling and emailing her colleagues and fellow doctors to get their view. Everyone was of the opinion that there was no hope for me. It was the end of the road. Game over. They came to this conclusion because it would mean removing my whole right lung and they were sure I would not survive that open surgery considering that my left and only kidney was already not functioning properly. The other option was chemotherapy but that too would affect my kidney.
Well, so what then? I made up my mind and I was not going to undergo either of the above. I discussed with my family and told that that I was prepared to go if the Lord wants to take me home. Meantime, I would fly back to Malaysia, meet up with friends and relatives, enjoy myself and go off gracefully, hopefully without much suffering. My colorectal surgeon then recommended me a thoracic surgeon. He said it might be worth going to see him. He was not sure what he could do for me but it was worth a shot to get his opinion.
The night before my appointment with the thoracic surgeon, I prayed and asked God to give him the wisdom to be able to do something for me. I said I knew there was no more hope but I put all my trust and faith in Him. Then I asked, “Lord, is it time? Are you taking me home?”
I heard a voice saying, “NO.” I thought I had dozed off. I opened my eyes and looked around. There was nobody else in the room. I closed my eyes and again I asked, “Lord, are you sure? Is it time for me to go home?” Again the voice said, “NO.” This time I was very sure it was not a figment of my imagination. I went on my knees, thanked the Lord and went off to sleep.
The next morning when I woke up, I felt that I heard this haunting tune in my head the whole night through while I was asleep. The words were repeated on and on, “God will take care of you.” I was not sure if I had heard this song before and even if I had it would have been ages ago. How could I check it up? I decided to check it on You Tube. But what would I type? Ah, just type “God will take care of you”, I thought. Maybe something would show up. Sure enough out pop the song in You Tube and the lady who was singing it sounded exactly like what I had heard all through the night. It was uncanny. God really spoke and He reconfirmed it! He must have known I doubted what I had heard the night before.
I shared with my family members on the way to see the surgeon but they gave me that funny look. They must think the worrying had driven me nuts and that I was in denial.
At the surgeon’s office, he took one look at the report and the CT scan and announced that it was not a problem. He would be able to help me. Praise the Lord! He said he could do a keyhole surgery for me. All he had to do was to put me to sleep, cut three little slits, one at my side and two at the back, deflate my right lung and cut off the nasty stuff for me.
I was in hospital on the 1st March and by the morning of the 5th I was out again. By the next day, I was my normal self and could do my daily walk in the evening.
I am a skeptic by nature. When I read or hear that people hear from God, I always wonder if they have imagined it. How can God, a supreme being speak to sinful creatures like us? Maybe to the prophets of old but not to us in this modern age. It sounds a little too far fetched. But I was grossly wrong. We worship a living God. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. If He called out to Samuel and spoke to Moses and all, He CAN and WILL speak to us if we will only focus, be quiet and listen to Him.
Our God is a mighty God, a God
above all gods.
Praise the Lord.