“I know you have brain cancer, but what is really preventing you from returning to work?” I’ve come to expect this type of compassion from insurance companies as I’ve navigated various disability claims over the last 18 months. It has been daunting to wade through wordy policies and wait for phone calls to be returned. I’ve had to justify myself in order to receive what I’ve paid for and am entitled to.
The more complex challenge, however, has been the puzzle of medical advice scattered before me. One doctor insists I stick with the proven standard of care and nothing more aggressive, which felt a lot like sitting on my hands. Another promotes an integrative approach, but it’s complicated to maintain. While yet another describes a promising experimental treatment as a “no brainer” for me.
If the trauma I’m experiencing and cognitive deficits caused by my tumor weren’t overwhelming enough, having to carry the weight of these urgent, life-or-death decisions was going to crush me. I've had appointments with doctors, not knowing what their titles meant. I was presented with studies I could hardly read or understand. I needed rides to appointments I couldn’t otherwise attend. This has been a humbling, vulnerable season and I needed help.
By God's provision, many helpers have come alongside in my time of need. A dietician specializing in gliomas empowered me with the latest research and a nutrition plan. A new friend from our children’s school, who previously managed a brain tumor foundation, offered wise counsel and a large network of connections. A community we could depend on steadied our resolve to press forward and endure whatever was to come.
When the weight of medical and family decisions piled up, the Lord graciously provided advocates to encourage and guide at just the right time, and seemingly, in every area of my life. They helped lift my burdens when I was about to collapse. They provided an abundance of wisdom and practical support. I was diverted from the dark roads of despair and conspiracy many patients have walked.
Even still, cancer, like nothing else, has showcased my limitations, pronounced my nagging sinful tendencies, and brought me face-to-face with my own mortality. I can’t avoid asking the existential questions of life. Why am I here? Why is this happening to me? What happens when I die?
Uncertainties still abound and it feels like my needs grow by the day. My life is reflecting the spiritual dependency I’ve come to acknowledge and embrace. I need another helper who can deal with my deepest problem, who has walked in my shoes, and has a solution to the universal end of the human experience.
Sin opened the door to death and has spread like a maligant disease to all the human race. The weight of my sin, and the sting of our fatal condition, is my greatest problem. Sin is a burden that crushes and condemns all before a holy God. No one is strong enough to bear its load. None righteous enough to pay its penalty. None, except for one man.
In the gospel, I can find strength to face the threats posed by cancer, but more importantly, I can stand justified before God, trusting in the finished work of Jesus Christ, my perfect advocate.If anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.
- 1 John 2:1-2
to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness.
- Romans 4:5
Take heart, trust in Jesus. He will be your advocate too.