Something in common
My dad was recently diagnosed with stage-three colon cancer.
He is responding well to the chemotherapy and radiation treatments, and latest news as of this writing is that he only has six more radiation treatments to go.
His chemotherapy is delivered by a small pump that he carries around with him. The pump gives an hourly dose of the medication 24 hours a day. He gets weekends off from both treatments.
His radiation treatments are administered daily and our family has done an excellent job in sharing the responsibility of getting him there. Friday is my day of the week to pick him up and take him for his radiation.
I usually go with dad back to the smaller waiting room where the other guys who are there for treatment are waiting.
I have had opportunity to talk to some of those other guys in the process of taking dad there. Nobody would argue that having cancer is definitely a negative thing. It is strangely positive to me, however, that such a negative thing has brought these men together the way it has.
There are no racial or financial boundaries in that waiting room. In spite of the obvious struggles with nausea and extreme exhaustion, the talk in that room is rarely about the obvious, and usually more about each guy’s everyday life.
One guy talks about his little dog, and how it likes to play in the garden. Another guy is talking about the carport he is adding on to his home.
I was there one day when one of the guys had taken his last treatment, and was happy to share that he was going back to Virginia and relax on his front porch.
The guys are mostly older, and many of them are retired. What I have come to appreciate and admire about all of them is that in a different way each of them are fighters.
They are quick to encourage each other, and none of them seems concerned with the amount of time their doctors have told them they have left.
One guy says, “I do not have an expiration date. I know several people who were told they only have a month or two to live, and they have been here still years later.”
I hope I never am diagnosed with cancer. If I am, however, I hope to handle it with the grace and fighting spirit I have witnessed in that waiting room.
Those talks in that waiting room brought a passage from scripture to my mind. 1Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. (New International Version)
Too many “Christians” go to the altar every Sunday asking God to deliver them from the same old things they are doing. They want to whine all the time about how “difficult” it is to do things like stop smoking or stick to a diet.
I have learned from the guys in that waiting room that either you are a fighter…or you are not. It does not matter what the trial or temptation is, because none of us are alone in our struggles.
If we stand together in Christ, there are no obstacles and together we can learn simply to “stand up” against whatever comes our way.
My dad, and the other men in that waiting room are survivors and I am blessed and encouraged to have witnessed the fighting spirit that each of them have displayed.
Dennis McFarland is the pastor of the Plumwood Church of Christ in Christian Union, 175 Arthur Bradley Road. He can be reached at (740) 857-1714 or by e-mail at: