On June 13, it will be a year. It is hard to believe a year has passed since I got that dreaded phone call. It’s a phone call I will never forget. It was 6 p.m. My wife and I had just sat down to eat supper. I had only taken a few bites. The WXII news was coming on the TV…and then the phone rang. The news of the world had to be put on hold as I awaited news regarding myself. The phone rang one more time before I could answer it, but I instinctively knew who was calling.
On Monday, June 10, 2013, I had a biopsy to determine if I had prostate cancer or not. The doctor said he would call when the results came back. While only three days went by before the doctor called with the results, each passing hour of those three days was filled with anxious anxiety. I nervously said, “Hello.” The doctor didn’t mince words, he got right to the point. “Rev. Merritt,” he said, “I wish I had better news for you but of the twelve samples we took nine came back cancer.” My heart sank as I listened in disbelieve. I had no symptoms of any kind that would suggest such a diagnosis. I thought to myself, “Surely he has gotten my samples mixed up with someone else.” Even in bad news there was some good news, as the doctor added, “We have caught this very early, your prognosis is better than 90% recovery rate. We will sit down and look at what your best options are.”
I honestly cannot remember much of what else was said because I was numb from what I had been told. I wasn’t the first person to receive news like this and I certainly won’t be the last, but when it is you receiving the news that puts a different perspective on the situation. As I slowly hung-up the phone I tried to explain to my wife, as best as I could remember, what he had said. We both sat in stunned silence. I tried to finish my supper but my appetite had vanished like a leaf in a wind storm. The thoughts in my mind were twirling faster than a mid-west tornado. Over the years my phone has rung thousands of times, yet that phone call turned my world upside down and put me on a path of uncertainty.
For the next eight weeks my time was spent reading everything I could read on prostate cancer, talking to men who had traveled this same road, visiting several doctors discussing my best options, and finding shelter under the Wings of Christ and in the Words of Christ. I would be less than honest if I didn’t confess that there were many anxious and fearful days. There were times I felt like a trembling cat treed by a big bad barking dog. There were times I got by myself and wept. Our God wept through human eyes (John 11:35) so tears are a language He understands. Through it all the Lord was/is faithful (I Thes. 5:24; 2 Thes. 3:3) and His sustaining strength and grace was/is ever present.
After much prayer and consulting wise doctors, which I was so blessed to have, it was decided my best option was to take 43 radiation treatments. They began on Sept 10 and ended on November 7. There were times I thought they would never end, but “this too shall pass.” When my treatments started my PSA was 6.4. A month after my treatments ended my first check-up revealed my PSA had been cut in half to 3.1. Three months later, in March, I had my second check-up and it had been cut in over half again to 1.3. The goal is to get it under 1 by November. My next check-up is in July. I am praying that the goal will have been reached by then. I realize I will have to have check-ups the rest of my life. But that is ok.
It has been a year now since I got that shocking phone call and I am here to tell you, the LORD IS FAITHFUL. He has been with me every uncertain step I have taken. His promise that He will never leave us or forsake us is true. That He is a Shelter in times of storms is true. That He is our Certainty in uncertain times is true. That He is an Anchor when the ship of life is being tossed about is true. That He is a Rock that never trembles when we are trembling is true. That He who is the Prince of Peace is able to speak peace to the troubled waters of our souls is true. That He is our Foundation when we feel like we are sinking in quicksand is true. That He is our Strength when we are weak is true. That He is our Burden-Bearer when the load is too heavy to carry is true. That He is our Wisdom when our minds are perplexed is true. That He is our Great Physician when sickness invades our lives is true. That He is our Rest when our soul is restless is true. That He is our Courage when we are cowards is true. That He is our Light in our darkest hour is true. That He is our Way when we can’t see the way is true. That He is the All-Sufficient One when our sufficiency is lacking is true. That He is the Great I Am who is in the present tense of our every circumstance is true. Yes, the Lord is faithful.
We never know when that life-altering phone call or knock at the door will come. But I can assure you when you answer the phone He already knows the contents of the message you are about to hear. I can assure you when you answer that knock at the door He already knows who stands on the other side and why they are there. We can always be assured He is there no matter what we are confronted with or what we go through. He is there and that makes all the difference in the world, in eternity…and in our lives.
The Lord He is faithful.