In meeting with Dr. Rubin I distinctly remember that as I explained everything I had been experiencing the look that would cross his face. Laying on the exam table while he poked and prodded my stomach the look he had belied the fact that something I was saying and what he was used to hearing weren’t adding up. Or at least they weren’t adding up in a way he felt comfortable with. He excused himself saying he wanted to check on something. He was gone for quite a while and when he returned his first question was, “You say you haven’t eaten anything since yesterday?” Affirming the question he asked if I could get anyone to drive me home and whether I’d be up for an endoscopy, that his partner was performing them right now and could squeeze me in. I honestly thought, heck yes, lets take a look and get this figured out right now today. I was thinking what I’m sure he was hoping, that we would find an ulcer behind all of this. (This was taken and edited from a letter I sent to my gastroenterologists the Summer of 2015 read here)
He walked across the recovery room to where I sat waiting for the results of the endoscopy he’d just performed on me, and I could tell from his grave countenance he was far from excited with what he was about to share. My eyes took in the manilla folder he was holding and I knew the news held within was something I’d prefer to remain ignorant about. As he sat down beside me I could feel my face flush and a pressure begin to build in my head from my heart that was attempting to escape my chest. Before he could say a word I heard my inner voice remind myself that God was still God, no matter what I was about to hear God hadn’t changed. Opening the folder he held on his lap he quietly said he wasn’t happy with what he’d found. Turning over the top piece of paper he showed me a picture taken from the inside of my throat. I felt the tears start to form at the corners of my eyes. One didn’t need to be a doctor to recognize the image as a cancerous tumor. The voice in my head grew louder as the reminder became a mantra; God is still God, God is still God, as I willed the tears to abate.
The next few days would be a whirlwind as I learned what esophageal cancer is, had a CT Scan and then meet with an esophageal surgeon only to find out that I wasn’t a surgical candidate because the cancer had spread to my liver. An afternoon of Google searches would reveal what this meant – that I had stage IV cancer and that the only treatment available is palliative. The next week I met with my oncologist who confirmed this and the likelihood that I only had a couple of years left. The only thing that kept me from becoming an emotional train wreck was my faith in God’s sovereignty.