Back in October, I wrote about a friend and colleague, Doug, who'd just been diagnosed with stomach cancer. Throughout the late fall, he underwent intensive chemo to try to beat the tumor into submission before surgery this month. I saw him in December and we talked about his chemo and the uncertainty of his status. Doug had lost weight and looked tired, but his smile and words were genuine when he said "I am so blessed."
Yesterday Doug went into surgery. A few weeks ago, his wife Susan blogged about what could happen:
Doug has officially finished his first nine weeks of chemotherapy. We were busy today meeting with the surgical and fusion oncologist reviewing the interim test reports, scheduling more tests and . Doug's tumor has decreased in size from 7.6 x 6.1 cm to 5.0 x 3.4 cm. Upper abdominal lymph nodes have also reduced in size. The lesions in the liver will remain suspect until surgery, however they remain unchanged. This is very good news!
He is scheduled for another endoscopy on the 21st of January and surgery on the 27th of January. During surgery on the 27th Doug will undergo a laproscopy to get a visual of his liver, if the suspected area does not present with cancer, Dr. Nichols will proceed with a smaller 4" incision in order to gain physical access to the afflicted area. If his liver still does not present with cancer, they will proceed with the surgery.
Now this is where things get dicey, so we need prayer warriors! If the liver presents at any time with cancer, the doctors will not proceed with surgery or further chemo treatments. This is a little known fact we have known from the beginning but have chosen not to share until now. The fact that the lesions have remained unchanged gives rise to celebration. Understandably, the doctors will not commit to anything until they have a "hands-on visual" of the liver. Hmmm, a familiar term in educational circles. Of course, Doug and I are proceeding with the attitude of total healing here on earth.
Then Tuesday night this email arrived from one of Doug's coworkers:
Doug's surgery is scheduled for tomorrow (Wednesday) morning at 7:30 a.m. I'll send out an update as soon as I know something. I saw him yesterday and spoke with him earlier this evening. He is in really good spirits and is in good physical shape. He has been working out and getting pumped up for this so his body can recover from this sooner.
Surgery started at 7:23. It makes for a long morning when someone you know and care about is undergoing surgery. I thought about Doug, I thought about Susan and Rachel, their daughter. I found myself thinking the same prayer, over and over: "Give them strength."
We all saw this note at noon:
I just received a call from Susan. Doug is out of surgery and cancer free!!! The doctor said that they took out what they needed to take out and the spots on the liver are not cancer. He will be in the hospital for probably 7-8 days but would like for visitors to hold off for a few days. Susan will call when they are ready for visits. Doug, Susan and Rachel extend their sincere thank you for all of your continued prayer and support. When he recovers from the surgery he will undergo another 9 week round of chemo to ensure that every other little cell that may even think of causing a problem is zapped for good.
Joy, relief, gratitude! There were a lot of smiles and cheers all around this county yesterday.
This morning the sun came up in a blaze of glory. I don't know if Doug could see it from his hospital bed, but I doubt he needed to today.
The joy and the glory were already there.