Yesterday I met my new oncologist. Well, she’s not a new oncologist, but she’s new to me. My first oncologist who determined and administered my cancer treatment plan back in 2012 and who walked me through my cancer storm retired in September. Losing her was a big deal. I trusted Dr. Rhee. She was my cancer safe place. She took excellent care of me in the darkest season of my life. Even though she subjected me to some of the toughest treatments available, it could be said that she saved my life.
But when she told me last September at my 3-month check-up, that this would be my last visit with her, I didn’t feel like I’d been cut from my safe moorings. Instead, I sensed the Julian of Norwich statement “all shall be well” being said in my soul.
So yesterday I saw Dr. Nanci, my new oncologist. I wasn’t scheduled to see her until early in 2016, but a new and odd lump had appeared under my right arm along the scar line of my mastectomy and breast reconstruction. When you are at higher risk of recurrence of cancer as I am, you pay attention to new and odd lumps. At least you should. And I did.
I took Prince Philip with me so we could meet my new oncologist together. She thoroughly went through my file. She spoke out loud every part of my diagnosis and treatment and she said more often than I liked that I’d had a high number of lymph nodes positive for cancer. But when she looked at my new and odd lump, she rendered it nothing to be concerned about; just a product of my type of breast reconstruction where the transferred fat used to make the new breast mounds gets lumpy. Some women get lumpy after reconstruction. Evidently, I am a lumpy kind of gal.
Yesterday carried with it a special poignancy in that it was the 4th anniversary of the day I first heard those words, “You have cancer.” So it was extra good to leave a doctor’s office with the potential threat lifted. I walked away from the “scene of the crime” having escaped without harm. Philip and I celebrated a good day.
In today’s meditation from Tim and Kathy Keller’s book “The Songs of Jesus” which draws each day from something in the Psalms, they speak to Psalm 135. In verse 14 it says, “The LORD will vindicate his people and have compassion on his servants.” This rang true for me today. It is by God’s compassion that I am alive today. Cancer tried to take my life, but God has vindicated me. But verse 14 is directly followed by three verses on the futility of idol worship. It speaks more than disparagingly about those who seek security and satisfaction from them – indeed, those who seek security and satisfaction from anything other than God. Finally, in verses 19 – 21, the psalm admonishes God-followers to seek and find their security and satisfaction in Him alone.
As I celebrate today the good news that at this point at least, I do not have a recurrence of my cancer, I can’t help but think that I dare not make an idol of that good news. I am deeply grateful that God has stretched out my recovery and I praise Him that He has “vindicated me.” But my praise is to be directed to God for His goodness. It may be good news that I don’t have a cancer recurrence but my BEST NEWS is God. My praise is to be directed to Him for who He is. I should not make an idol of cancer. Nor should I make an idol of avoiding cancer.
The Kellers say, “Idols are usually good things turned into ultimate things because we look to them to give us the … security that can come only from God.”
Today, I choose to worship God alone. I seek my security and my satisfaction in Him. No other good news is good unless it is viewed through the lens of the BEST NEWS – that He is my ultimate security and satisfaction.
After more than 25 years in parish ministry, Rev. Cathie retired in early 2018 to pursue a quieter life with her husband Philip in the mountains of Central Oregon. Although no longer a leader in congregational life, she continues to follow her calling and passion to minister to those who suffer, especially those with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.