Friday, March 15, 2013

Cancer Sucks ... or Not

Cancer is a devastating disease that has caused tragedy, heartbreak, and long, intense suffering for far too many people. Cancer really does suck, if you'll excuse my using such terminology.

So why do I cringe when I think about "cancer sucks" coming out of my mouth?

Well, because cancer didn't suck for me. My bout with leukemia was interesting and life-transforming. It was painful, but it wasn't lonely. In fact, it was one of the least lonely times of my life. It was extremely dangerous and survival was somewhat unlikely, but since I didn't spend any time worrying about that, it didn't bother me. I've wonderful adventures and experiences with great people before, but this is my most recent one.

It's a fond memory. It didn't suck at all.

I saw a T-shirt today that says, "It came. We fought. I won. Leukemia Survivor."

I want to change it a little bit, especially the word "fought." I didn't fight. I danced. So my T-shirt has to say:

Cancer came, we danced, I'm still alive.
Looking for the next adventure

The following designs are more my style. You can get them at

Or this one; I really like this one:

Actually, next step is 5K. (2 miles in about 32 minutes today; I'm just aiming for 3.1 miles in 45 minutes. Almost on pace!)

But the big goal, though maybe I'm just dreaming: Badwater

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Nothing Shall Separate Us from the Love of God

Today my father-in-law's "Verse of the Day" talked about Romans 8:38-39, which says that Paul was convinced that no created thing and no trial (nor a bunch of other things) can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus. My father-in-law asked, "Can you honestly say that you are convinced?"

I believe that my over-a-year long battle with leukemia, its treatments, and its side effect was for that one purpose: God was trying to convince me that nothing would separate me from his love.

Mind you, I'm not a once-saved, always-saved person. Our own sin is not mentioned in Romans 8:38-39. We can separate ourselves from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus if we so choose.

Only a fool would choose that, but Satan has helped the Christian religious system become such that many, if not most, Christians are ill-equipped to live a Christian life. Christians have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires (Gal. 5:24). No, they're not perfect, but they are new and improved ... noticeably so.

If they're not, they're lying. They don't know God.

Hey, I'm just repeating 1 John 2:3-4 and 3:7-10. Oh, and for the "not perfect" part I'm quoting 1 John 1:7-2:2.

Anyway, I'm off topic.

I remember days when I could do nothing but lay there in bed. I could barely think, much less pray. I remember days of being on Dilaudid and dreaming every time I closed my eyes, whether I was asleep or not. I hate being out of control, and I was not confident of anything going on around me.

In that severely weakened state, the mental weakness worse than the physical weakness, God was always close. Sometimes I would quietly weep, a tear would run down my cheek, and I would thank him for taking such good care of me. On days like that the sins of my past would rise up before me, and I would be unable to understand why the grace of God was with me so strongly.

And God would whisper to me, "Somehow, some way I am going to convince you that I am always on your side."

There were other benefits to contracting leukemia. Yeah, I got the joy of having my faith tested, producing patience so that I can become perfect and complete, lacking nothing. Yeah, the pains and trials did things that aged me inside, so that two different strangers at two different times looked at me afterwards and gave me the best compliment I've ever had, "You are an old soul. I can see it."

Yeah, I got to go through adventures, wander close to death and get a good view of my own mortality, and I got to see and experience things only so many people get to see.

Admittedly, there were a lot of benefits, and overall it was an extremely wonderful time.

But clearly, above all, the best benefit and main purpose was that I would be convinced that nothing--not leukemia, not pain, not confusion, not depression, not complete incapacitation--could separate me from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus my Lord.

People like me—who actually believe the old Gospel, the one Jesus, the apostles, and the Christians who heard the apostles believed—we're very prone to condemning ourselves because while it's true that those who don't obey the commands of God don't know God (1 Jn. 2:3-4), it is also true that those who do know God don't all obey perfectly.

God takes special care of the upright. He gives them grace to be not just upright, but to be able to live by an unearthly righteousness, the righteousness of God that is deeper than anything man can produce (Ps. 36:10; Php. 3:7-11; Gal. 2:20). That righteousness is beautiful to those who observe it in action (e.g., Ps. 90:17; Ps. 96:9; Zech. 9:17).

But even those possessed of such grace, upon whom others look with admiration, can be stricken with conscience. Their mourning over their own sins, no matter how merciful they are to the sins of others, is so deep as to be potentially unforgiving.

The grace of God is upon such humble mourners, and he devotes himself to convincing them of his love. He erases their doubts, and he puts the Holy Spirit in their hearts. He says, "Nothing, child, shall separate you from my love. I am for you, and nothing and no one shall set me against you."

If you're interested enough in this kind of talk, rather than focusing on leukemia, that you are wanting to look up all those Scriptures I referenced, I can make it easy for you. I'm going to go post a duplicate of this post on my "Old, Old Story" blog, where you can read those verses, thanks to by just pointing at them with your mouse.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Lexe Selman, Acute Myeloid Leukemia, and Soccer supplanted by blog as the #1 result for "leukemia blog" on Google. Boy, am I glad. I love this story.

Have you ever played soccer? Have you ever had a full round of chemotherapy meant to put Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) into remission, and then played soccer?

I have. I played in a meadow with my sons and their friends. I played outside defense so I wouldn't be too much of a detriment to the team. At least there I could try to get in the way and slow an opposing striker down. Ten meter sprints were exhausting.

Lexe Selman plays at a much higher level than me. I'm one of those old men who's supposed to get leukemia that you'll hear about in her videos. In fact, at 50, I was young for an Acute Leukemia (AUL for me) patient.

Lexe was the captain of her high school soccer team. She had a soccer scholarship to the University of Arizona. Then, in April of her senior year, less than one year ago, she was diagnosed with AML.

What a life change, to be stricken by a cancer that normally hits men older than me.

I'm going to tell you this story in short form before I give you the video link.

After her first chemo, shortly before she had to go back for a second round, she went back to her club soccer team. She talked the doctors into letting her warm up with team. (There's a great picture of her warming up in a ski cap like I still wear often and a surgical mask.) The team enjoyed it so much that they asked the coach if she could start and stay in for one play. The idea was to pass it to her, have her kick it out, then be replaced.

That's not what happened. You have to see this kick she made. It's from a distance, taken with an iPhone, but there's no doubt about how good a kick it was.

And it was made between rounds of AML chemotherapy, which wipes out your bone marrow and thus your entire blood system, forcing you to survive on transplants until your blood system rebuilds over the next month, usually only to about 80% of what it was.

Enough said:

Go here and scroll down to June 3. That link will open a new window so that you can come back here and follow this link to get an update from a couple weeks ago.

I cried yesterday when I saw her videos, and I cried today when I found them again for this blog.

Man, do I love stories like this and attitudes like Lexe Selman's.