What’s Up Doc?
“Ehh, What’s Up, Doc?”
― Bugs Bunny, Wild Hare
Huntington Family Medical, Pasadena, CA
July 8th, 2015, 3 p.m.
The PET scan was the last straw. Vanessa and I were beginning to ask ourselves why there were so many tests, exams, scans, whatever, and no new diagnosis. Dr. Mahmoud had already diagnosed that I had seriously pulled the muscles in my lower back, and it would take about three months to heal. However, I was getting more tired and uncomfortable with each passing day.
“We need to schedule an appointment with Dr. Mahmoud just to find out what is going on,” I had said to Vanessa a few days earlier.
I called our doctor’s office that day, and we were able to get an appointment on Wednesday, 08-Jul-2015, to see Dr. Mahmoud.
“We need to get to the bottom of this!” Vanessa said.
We arrived at the doctor’s office on time and determined. The nurse took us back to the same windowless examination room where we had met with Dr. Mahmoud on all of our previous visits. The same two chairs, along with an examination table, were its only furnishings. There was a built-in base cabinet and overhead cabinets containing various medical supplies and equipment.
On the walls were posters about the human body and different ailments one should be aware of. On one of the walls was a plastic rack containing brochures on everything from coping with depression to how to do a breast examination. A model of the human spine and pelvis sat on the floor suspended by a hook that was part of a display fixture. I looked around at the familiar surroundings and thought to myself; I will not leave without something more to go on.
Vanessa sat down in the chair at the back of the room, facing the door. She always likes to be seated where she can see everything going on, both inside and outside. I sat down in the chair next to the examination table across from the cabinets and waited for Dr. Mahmoud.
A few moments later, Dr. Mahmoud came in. She greeted us, leaned up against the examination table, and asked us what we wanted to know.
“We want to know why you have been ordering all of these tests,” Vanessa replied firmly. She especially did not understand what a urine test had to do with pulled muscles.
“I want to know why you are ordering tests that have nothing to do with soft tissue, nothing to do with pulled muscles,” I added.
“I saw something on your x-rays that was not normal, so I wanted to have more tests done to confirm my suspicions,” she said.
“Well, do you know what it is?” I asked.
“I think I know what it is, but I am not 100 percent sure,” she replied.
I sensed she did not want to share her opinion without being absolutely sure of her diagnosis.
“How sure are you?” I continued to press.
“Well, I’m about 75 percent sure,” she answered slowly.
“Okay,” I said slowly. Now I had something to work with. I was determined to get a diagnosis, even if it was not a certainty.
“We won’t hold you to it, but if your 75 percent is correct, what would you say it is?” I asked. I waited for her reply with great anticipation.
After a brief pause, she said, “I think you have Multiple Myeloma,” flatly.
I had never heard of Multiple Myeloma. I had no real sense of what it was. I vaguely recalled that diseases ending in “oh-ma” were typically not good in the back of my mind.
“What is that?” I asked inquisitively.
Positron emission tomography scan (PET scan). Positron emission tomography (PET) is a nuclear imaging technique that creates detailed, computerized pictures of organs and tissues inside the body. A PET scan reveals how the body is functioning and uncovers areas of abnormal metabolic activity.
A Preliminary Diagnosis
“I’m afraid you have bone cancer, my friend,” she finally said.
The next second and a half seemed to last for at least 60 seconds. I just had a head-on collision with the “C” word. Several thoughts raced through my mind in that scant 1.5 seconds.
The first thing that happened was my thinking became extremely narrowly focused. Whatever was the most important, pressing concern in my life just the moment before became absolutely, unequivocally, unimportant and insignificant, almost forgotten. Cancer had just barged into my life and had taken hostage my complete and undivided attention. It was all that mattered.
Next, what came to my mind was several separate memories all at once. Three similar sermons from different pastors melded together in my mind into one message.
“It is easy to sing praises and be joyful while we sit in our pews on Sunday and all is well. But how will you react when you receive that report from the doctor you were not expecting? Will you ask, ‘Why me?’ Will fear grip you? Will you worry? Will you get angry? Will you sink into despair? Or will you trust in God and His word? Will you praise Him anyhow? Will you trust His Word when it says:
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
― Philippians 4:6-7, Berean Study Bible
Or when it says,
“When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul.”
― Psalm 94:19, New American Standard
“Whatever happens in your life is no surprise to God. He says in His word:
“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 a future and a hope.”
― Jeremiah 29:11, Berean Study Bible
“He knows the number of days of your life. Nothing happens that is outside the authority and Will of God.”
“So, at the end of the day, it comes down to this. Every challenge you face in life is a challenge to your faith. Do you truly believe what you profess to believe? If you were accused of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you of the charge? In whom or what do you place your trust? When faced with a crisis in your life, what are you going to do? How are you going to react?”
Then I thought to myself, Wow, I am experiencing that moment now! I could feel my heartbeat quicken.
However, I did not react negatively, nor did I expect I would. I had learned long ago from scriptures and my own life experiences that Christians are not guaranteed a life without trouble just because they are Christians. The scriptures say:
“He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous”
― Matthew 5:45, New American Standard
They also say,
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds….”
― James 1:2, English Standard Version
I did not ask myself the question, Why me? Instead, I asked myself, Why not me?
I did not expect to be spared the trials of life but for the power of the Holy Spirit to give me the strength to bear what was put before me. So, the feelings of fear, worry, anger, and despair never rose in me.
What occurred next caught me totally by surprise.