At the beginning of the year, I declared 2013 to be the year of Jubilee. From an outsider’s perspective, I could not have been more wrong in my declaration. Without getting into all that has happened this year, I will say that this has been the most difficult year of my life ten times over. At the top of my difficulties was discovering that I had colon cancer and having 18 inches of my colon removed.
I am a man of faith and I can honestly say that at no point during this year was my faith in God shaken. That being said, I really believe that the word cancer is the scariest word in the English language. No matter how you fare, there is life before cancer and there is life after cancer.
How can I possibly look back and declare this year to be a year of Jubilee? Because in the midst of your greatest difficulties you get to see how great God is. Through the entire process I was surrounded by a peace that can only come from God. I was blessed with tremendous doctors and ended up seeing one of the top doctors in the country even though that wasn’t my original intent.
In May I ended up in the hospital due to bleeding. What I learned later was that most people don’t even experience bleeding like mine with colon cancer. Because I am young, doctors typically overlook typical symptoms of colon cancer. And indeed this actually happened as a CT scan saw the large polyp in my colon but diagnosed it as something else. It might have only been because I was dehydrated and lost so much blood that I passed out in the bathroom that a full colonoscopy was ordered.
The polyp that was found ended up sending me to Baltimore. The local doctors didn’t even want to touch it. While the polyp could have been removed by taking out a piece of my colon, one of the top doctors in the country was able to remove it as an outpatient procedure. I didn’t spend a night in the hospital.
A week later I got a phone call saying that the polyp was cancerous. It appeared as though the cancer was contained but there was a chance that it had spread to the lymph nodes. The surrounding lymph nodes would need to be taken out as well. I was referred to another doctor who would ultimately perform that surgery in less than three weeks.
My second doctor I had no less than half a dozen nurses tell me – unprompted – was the best one to have for such a procedure and they’d only go to her. These are the kinds of things you want to hear awaiting surgery and during recovery. In the end, I had 18 inches of my colon removed and only spent 4 days in the hospital.
My cancer was diagnosed as only stage 1 which means that I have every reason to expect a full recovery. It had not spread beyond the polyp that was removed, I did not require any chemo or radiation treatments, and I am currently cancer free. If I go five years without a recurrence, I’ll be considered medically cured.
Through all of this I have been reminded that God is not good; He is great! This is not the route I would have chosen for myself by any means. But rather than feel abandoned or forgotten by God, I know that I am blessed. Most times colon cancer is not discovered until it has reached stage 2 or 3 when the situation is more difficult. It’s not even typically scanned for if you’re under 50 which means that when it is found in younger people it’s even more likely to be further along. But for some reason I happened to bleed enough to go to the hospital and despite a misdiagnosed CT scan, my cancer was still discovered – and discovered early. Many people would consider me unlucky to have cancer in the first place. I consider myself blessed that it was found so early. I don’t believe in coincidences and I have every reason to believe that the Lord still has plenty of work for me to do.
Was 2013 the year of Jubilee that I had hoped for? Absolutely not. Cancer was only the greatest of my trials this past year but not the only one. But at the end of 2013 I can praise God even more than before because I have seen His hand at work and His power in undeniable.
Sometimes God has to tell us like He told the apostle Paul, His grace is sufficient for us. We don’t know what kind of ailments Paul suffered from but God told him that His grace was sufficient to deal with his problems. I learned that lesson in a powerful way this year and it’s a message that I will be able to repeat to everyone who is enduring hardships.
Jubilee is a celebration of God’s goodness and I have certainly experienced that this year. It’s not what I wanted but I’m sure that God didn’t make a mistake that it was what I needed.