October 4th, 2013
On September 10, 2013 I was informed by my Dermatologist that my previous week’s biopsy had come back from the pathologist positive. I tried to not over react as I calmly asked the doctor what my next step would be. He informed me that I had Stage I Melanoma. He was reassuring, but explained to me that the window for action was narrow.
We set the surgery date for September 16th at 7:15 AM. The surgery was far more intense than I originally suspected. The Melanoma was right in the middle of my left cheek. The doctor explained that due to the deadly history of Melanoma, especially in the later stages, he was going to be fairly aggressive.
The doctor removed a 5mm margin of healthy tissue that surrounded the cancer during the surgery. This resulted in the removal of a quarter size piece of tissue from my face. We waited two days for the pathology report to determine if they had gotten all of the cancer or if they would have to remove more tissue. On Wednesday, September 18th we got the pathology report back. They got all the cancer. Of course our family, especially my precious wife, were all relieved. At 5:10 PM the reconstructive surgery took place to repair the large section of missing tissue in the middle of my left cheek. God certainly guided the surgeon’s hands as he carefully replaced the skin that had been removed. Thankfully I did not have a skin graph from another part of my body, which rarely ever looks right. The surgeon was able to actually through a very complex surgery move enough skin around on my face to actually cover the spot where the cancer had been removed. This compromise resulted in a large scar on my left cheek, from my left ear to within about an inch of my mouth. The reconstructive surgery lasted 1 hour and 43 minutes. I received 22 shots in my left cheek (That Hurt) and 42 stitches. The stitches were removed on September 26th. I am now on the grateful road to recovery.
So many others have faced a much more difficult journey with cancer than my own, but nonetheless I have a new compassion and comprehension of the fear and anxiousness that just the word “Cancer” creates. As I prayed today, for my friends and church members who are presently battling cancer, a sermon illustration I have used in the past came to mind. Let me share it with you today?
A few years ago, Dr. John Piper was Diagnosed With Prostate Cancer. Out of his battle with his disease, he wrote an article entitled “Don’t Waste Your Cancer”. In that article, Dr. Piper mentions 10 Mistakes People Make When They Deal With Cancer that cause them to miss what God is doing in their lives. I want to share a few of the observations Dr. Piper made in his article. I will change the word cancer to valley, because the truth of the statements he makes are valid whether we are dealing with cancer or with the valleys of life:
1. You Will Waste Your Valley If You Do Not Believe It Was Designed For You By God. It is not enough to say that God merely uses the valleys of life. We must also acknowledge that He designs them just for us.
2. You Will Waste Your Valley If You Think It Is A Curse And Not A Gift. It is through what some call a curse that the faithful saint experiences the tender mercies and gracious ministries of the Lord.
3. You Will Waste Your Valley If You Spend Too Much Time Reading About Your Valley And Not Enough Time Reading About Christ. In the midst of our pain, we need to turn to the Word of God to look into His face for the help we need.
4. You Will Waste Your Valley If You Allow It To Drive You Into Solitude Instead Allowing It To Deepen Your Relationships With Others. It may be that God sent your valley to help someone else. When we cut ourselves off during our valley seasons, we deprive them of the opportunity to minister to us in the love of Christ.
5. You Will Waste Your Valley If You Grieve As Those Who Have No Hope. God uses our valleys to teach those around us that there is hope. Hopeless should not be a part of our lives. The saint of God must walk with their hope anchored in Jesus, even during the painful valleys of live.
6. You Will Waste Your Valley If You Treat Sin As Casually As You Did Before. The valley should be a place of refinement where the saints of God make a definite move away from sin and its influence.
7. You Will Waste Your Valley If You Fail To Use It As A Means Of Witnessing To The Glory And Truth Of Jesus Christ. We are never anywhere by accident.