Saturday, November 25, 2006

Not Dodging the Ball

As many of you know, I have been fighting cancer for the last four years. I have come to the point now where my best course of action is a stem cell transplant. I meet the criteria of being: 1) in reasonably good health, 2) having a suitable donor, 3) still responsive to chemotherapy. Hence, this past week, the specialist team at Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto scheduled me for a transplant on December 20. I will be checking into the hospital on the 16th after four days of extensive chemotherapy as a conditioning process. This conditioning and the transplant will both be hard and potentially life threatening and I confess to a degree of fear as I contemplate the various side effects and potential complications that could arise. I know that it is important that I and my family go into this with our eyes wide open. But for a few hours early last Thursday morning, I seriously contemplated running away from it all. I could not face it.

I woke up at 4:00 am, thinking about what I am about to face and I was scared. I logged onto Google and typed in the sentence "Is it worth it" along with the phrases "stem cell transplant" and "CLL". Finding no hits, I logged onto the Mayo clinic site and read through one of the more helpful discussions on the subject. But reading through such potential complications as graft-versus-host disease, stem cell (graft) failure, organ damage, blood vessel damage, cataracts, secondary cancers, and death, brought no encouragement. I am a man who thrives on information but mere facts only increased my anxiety.

A few weeks ago, my grandfather passed away. While we were not especially close, some of my fondest memories with him involved long hours of tossing a baseball back and forth when I was younger. This was no casual game of catch. Grandpa had a strong arm and threw the ball hard and straight at me. At first, I would try to scoot off to the side and catch the ball away from my body in fear of getting hit by the ball if I missed it. Grandpa would have none of that. "Get in front of the ball," he would tell me. "That way if you miss, you can still pick up the ball when it hits you."

He was right, of course. And I followed his instructions.

I was never a very good ball player. We never practiced batting. And my throwing arm never became as accurate or as strong as I would have liked. But I did learn how to catch and how to catch very, very well. One of my prize possessions is the grass-stained and scuffed up baseball that we played with for so many years, which my grandfather gave me earlier this year. Today it sits on my office desk at The Voice of the Martyrs.

Why am I mentioning this? Because, like catching a baseball, it seems to me that life's problems cannot be handled by trying to dodge out of the way and catching the solution as it flies off to the side. I have learned that you need to take on life's challenges head-on, even it means that they hit you hard. But running away is not an option. As a Christian, I have the assurance that Christ stands with me in whatever situation I am called to. There is no God-forsaken place for the Christian; not even an isolation room in a transplant ward.

I do covet your prayers in the coming weeks. Pray that the conditioning process will be successful and without complications. Pray that my health will remain strong in the weeks leading up to mid-December. And pray for my family as we anticipate a Christmas season with Dad in the hospital. I am so grateful for the support of my wife and children. May God continue to hold them in His hand.


Thomas "Duffbert" Duff said...

You will be in my thoughts and prayers, Glenn...

Ingrid said...

Dear Glenn,
thank you for keeping us updated on your condition and especially for sharing your thoughts and fears with us.
I will be praying for you and your family as you face this new challenge. I know that you are in HIS hands, and there is no better place to be.
With regards,
Ingrid and family in Edmonton

SpeedReed said...

I'll be sure to include you and your family in my prayers, that He will give you strength and walk beside you during this time.

God Bless,
Mike Reed
San Pedro, California

Comfort said...

Brother Glenn,
I can't help feeling that you'll come out of this next challenge gloriusly for the Lord Jesus, the Great Physician Himself will see to it. You will experience His victory in a new and deeper way than before to the glory of his name.
I will, by His grace, be lifting you and your family up in prayers.