For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future

Jeremiah 29:11

First, I would like to apologize to the 4 readers of this blog for taking so long to get this one out.  Perhaps the reason that it is taking me so long to initiate writing blog #3 is not the extreme case of writer’s block that I originally suspected, but rather the subconscious desire to avoid reliving those critical moments that have so dramatically changed my life.

Now, on with the journey…

I clearly remember turning and walking out of my doctor’s office holding the card he had just handed me and looking down to read it, everything after that is just kind of a blur….

Hematologist:  A physician who specializes in diagnosing and treating diseases of the blood.

Being referred to one is never a good thing.  My initial reaction was a whisper silent “Oh, crap!…he thinks I have cancer”.  As I began the long journey back to my car, I began to feel the tide of anxiety starting to swell.  I got into my car, took a deep breath, closed my eyes and made a simple request to God…“Lord, give me peace and give me strength”

Thought #1:        I should double check and make sure life insurance policy is current

Thought #2:        I should train someone to run my business and keep my family whole

Thought #2:        I should buy a video camera so that I can record a log for my family to remember me by

Thought #3:        How will I break this news to my wife, my kids and my mother?

Thought #4:        How much is this going to cost me in medical bills?

Thought #5:        Stay calm

Rinse, lather and REPEAT……all the way home.   It was like having ADD on steroids…my mind was swirling with a million different thoughts and yet all the same thoughts (if that makes any sense).

The thing is, doctors don’t really have a step by step manual for dealing with all of this “life” stuff…at least not one that they gave me when they were giving me the bad news.  Although, in all likelihood, since I am a guy, I probably would not have read it anyways.

By the time I got home, I had done all the catastrophizing I was going to do.  I had drawn my line in the sand and I began to pray…just pray.  Peace began to settle within me, not the fleeting peace that comes and goes with the emotional tide, but a steady confident peace knowing that this was in God’s hands and not my own.

My wife was headed back to Indiana with her sisters for a family reunion and then to Washington to visit our daughter and since there was really nothing that she could do, I decided that for the time being I would not burden her or anyone else with the weight of this situation.

And so the process started.  I went to the hematologist I was referred to who was extremely kind, but who also possessed a natural pessimism (probably an occupational hazard).  His initial diagnosis was filled with a bunch of big words that I really did not retain, but none of it sounded good, not one single word of it!  He said that he wanted to draw some bone marrow and run some more tests.  A week later at 7:00 p.m. on a Friday night I got the call.  Again, pretty much everything he said to me was “greek”, the words I remember understanding were “I am surprised, I was not expecting this”… and this was not meant in a good way. They had found a “chromosomal anomaly” from my bone marrow tests.   Basically, my body was manufacturing bad blood cells.  Again, I asked God for peace, at that moment that is all I needed and at that is exactly what He gave me.

The initial diagnosis was MDS (myelodysplastic syndrome).  It is the diagnosis given to Robin Roberts from Good Morning America.  The way it has been explained to me is that it is basically pre-leukemia and it is a matter of “when” and not “if”.   There seems to be some argument amongst intellectuals as to whether MDS is considered a cancer or not, they obviously have never had such a diagnosis or they would know what a silly debate it is.  Six of one, half a dozen of the other is still just an argument of semantics.  The bottom line is it morphs into leukemia and is only curable by a bone marrow transplant.  Next step: referral to City of Hope.

For me, the big “C” was something that happened to the other guy, not to me.  I don’t know why I believed that, but I did.  It wasn’t my destiny, it wasn’t God’s plan for me to have some rare disease, after all, I had never been sick with anything worse than the flu in all my life.  How was I supposed to react to this kind of news?  I mean, honestly, what is a normal reaction when someone tells you, you have cancer?  How are you supposed to tell someone who loves you that you have cancer?  How do you plan for the future when you don’t even know how long that future will be or what kind of shape you will be in to live it?  My life, for all intents and purposes, had come to a screeching halt.

Perhaps God was once again trying to remind me that I am just a temporary guardian of this body and my life is a gift from Him and that my true joy was to be in Him and not in my own circumstances.