Saturday, March 31, 2012

Days of Grace

Backyard beautification project blooming
        Dear friends, yesterday was the portentous "day 100" since my transplant.  People ask how I feel and my most frequent response is "I feel ridiculous".  This use of "ridiculous" is borrowed from SportsCenter, when, a few years ago, one of the anchors (I think it was Stuart Scott), started saying things like "check out this RI-DICULOUS dunk by Kobe Bryant".  Of course it means "insanely great".  I even said to Dr. Kritz that if I didn't know what had happened during the past 6 months, the only sign I would have that something was amiss is the tingling in my  toes (and the 27 pills I have to take every day).
        My main message today is that a week or so ago, I looked up the prognosis for Richter's transformation for the first time.  Neither I nor Renee, nor my sisters, nor my parents had checked this out when I was diagnosed - I know that many of you did, and I am grateful that you didn't share what you found with us.  The mean survival interval is between 5 and 10 months.   As we digest this information and 'review the tape' of what occurred between September 20th and now, there are a lot of things that stand out.  First and foremost, we now know that several critical things had to happen exactly right, and at exactly the right times, in order for my earth-suit to make it through this alive - and they have.  Quickly, they are (a) early diagnosis (b) immediate aggressive and successful chemotherapy establishing remission and (c) followed by immediate, successful allogenic stem cell transplant.  I believe without hesitation that the prayers of everyone - friends, family, colleagues, prayer groups, sunday school classes, many people who do not know me, but know a relative of mine - MATTERED.  I will be forever grateful for all that support.

        Secondly, we are astounded at the expertise of and confidence expressed by Dr. Keating - we always thought he was a great doctor, but looking back at the meetings we had with him, when he knew what I was facing, knew the statistics, but also knew the narrow treatment path that offered hope for a cure.  That's what he pointed us at, and he never once talked about anything else but curing me.  To me, he is a giant in medicine and a hero among men.
        Having said all that, I called this post 'Days of Grace', because without the Lord's sovereign blessing, I would not be where I am today.  He is the ultimate source of our lives, and He has tried very hard to get us to understand that a) He is in control of our lives, not us, and not chance, and b) that He has something prepared for us that is much more wondrous and beautiful and eternal than anything this life has to offer.
        One thing I have thought about over the past 6 months is that if we really believe in the Creator God and if we really believe in Heaven and eternal life, why do we pray for long life and no pain here on earth?  We should pray for that which prepares us best for Real Life, the Life that Jesus promises us - Life with Him, Life in Him.  I believe that what I have been through is a God-send because it has brought me closer to Him and conformed me more to the image of His Son - who suffered for us.
        I stress again that medically, I have not been declared cancer-free, and it will be years before anyone declares me "cured".  I hope to find out around April 26 whether I am cancer free or not (return trip to Houston).  Meanwhile, we are praising the Lord for these Days of Grace.  Next week all Christians will be celebrating the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus.  I think this passage from Philippians chapter 3 is really appropriate here, Paul speaking:
        "Whatever gain I had, I count as loss because of the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.  I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him.....I want to know Christ - yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead."
        God Bless you - Dan and Renee

1 comment:

  1. Dan, Mike Crutch Here,

    I just heard of your illness from Christain on last week. I am just having time to view your blog and am 2.5 hours into it now. My continuous thought is my joy in knowing that your faithfulness continues to sustain you as always. I too share in your faith and have already started to thank God for your success to date as well as your ultimate healing. One other thing, your exercise regiment is embarrassing me (-: Mike