Cancer: The Gift of Uncertainty

This has been and interesting week with tests:

  • Tuesday I had a bone scan - looking for metastasis to the bone (which is common with advanced prostate cancer). The bone scan was a half day at Methodist hospital. I had an early check in. After an injection of a small amount of radioactive material, I had to wait 2½ hours (we had breakfast at the cafeteria there). I checked back in at 10:45 and then the scan was about an hour long
  • Wednesday the doctor's nurse called to say they wanted me to have x-rays of my right femur and pelvic area because something was questionable. Thursday I had a series of these in Maple Grove
  • Friday I had a 3T prostate specific MRI in Saint Louis Park. We arrived at 6:45 and were out of there just before 9 am
Suffice it to say,  this week was for me like a week never before.

  • I actually shopped for funeral plots and caskets
  • I informed Kathee that if the cancer had metastasized to my bones, I was going to pre-plan and pre-pay my funeral
It's been a week of uncertainty. And few cherish living with  apprehension.

Late afternoon on Thursday, we received positive news from the first two tests: No bone metastasis. That may come later but so far not. Cause for rejoicing - I took a deep breath and thanked the Lord!

As for the Friday test - I won't hear the news until next week.

The above leads to this point: all of this life is uncertain! As mortals, we all live with the certitude that we will die! Who has escaped?! (I only know of two: Enoch and Elijah). The questions are when? And how? As a young person, I rarely thought about death. I did have a near-death experience as a child when Dad yanked me out of what I perceived to be a near drowning in Lake Michigan (I was in rough surf near pilings and had lost my footing).

How? and When? The day my high school friend died at the age of 20 when the tractor he was driving rolled over and crushed him: did Jimmy C. "see" it coming? Did he wake up that morning and even for a moment wonder if that day would be his when? Or that a tractor would be his how?

When another high school classmate died in Viet Nam, did he know his how and when?

My hope about my when: I hope it is a long time! I love life and I love life with my wife. There is so much I would like to do! I would like to have more years of service for Him!

My hope about the how: After many additional years I quietly die while taking a nap in my recliner. Perhaps after a steak dinner followed by a cup of coffee with a bowl of ice cream.

Odds are that Jim at 66 year and 10 months will die before any 18 year old! But I don't know and few do! Yes death is certain!

Me in 1967

About cancer as a "gift": See John Piper's Don't Waste Your Cancer.

About uncertainty as a gift:

Yesterday Kathee and I completed reading the Scriptures through again. We typically read 3-4 chapters a day, starting with Genesis chapter 1 and ending with Revelation chapter 22. Yesterday was Revelation chapters 19, 20, 21, and 22.

I observe that the uncertainties of life make the certainties of God's promises more real and sweeter.

Here are some "certainties" from the passage we read yesterday:

  • "Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years" Revelation 20:6
  • "And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death  or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (21:3-4)
  • "Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. (22:12-14)
These are the certainties of which I am absolutely confident:


  1. MRI results:
    Dr Hoffman just called:
    The MRI does not show any cancer but
    There is a lymph node in the area near an artery that is enlarged. This may or may not mean something and will have to be watched (re-imaged in the future)
    Next appointment is 7/14 (nxt PSA test on 7/7)

  2. Glad for that update...by the way, does your friend's grave have his actual combat knife epoxied there, or was that just for the picture?

  3. BTW, made it through Seagate RIF OK....hope the same holds for your son!

  4. Update July 14th:

    Background: The prostate produces PSA. It was the elevated PSA that signaled a problem that lead up to surgery, et cetera. Not having a prostate ideally would result in a PSA of 0 (zero). That there is a PSA score at all means that the cancer has spread.

    Velocity is the key marker now. Velocity is the rate the PSA increases and is a marker for cancer spread.

    So 4 weeks ago my PSA was .2 ... well today's report is a PSA of .2 - so the velocity is "1". (Flat)

    Dr Hoffman went over the test results from the bone scan, Xrays & MRI (tests were 3 weeks ago). Summary:
    No evidence of bone metastasis
    There is an enlarged lymph node near the surgery site (from MRI). This may or may not be something.
    Another PSA test in 6 weeks
    PSA test in 3 months
    Another MRI in 3 months
    Back to the Dr on October 14th

    We feel relief and more "breathing space"


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