Believe in God and Acknowledge Him
David Lee—Calgary, Canada
A LUMP ON THE NECK
I thank God for giving me this
opportunity to share the blessings and grace that He has given me. I would also
like to take this opportunity to thank the brothers and sisters for all the
prayer, love, and care that they have shown me. Without them, it would have
been even more difficult to live through the past couple of years.
In late September 2007, I
discovered a lump on the right side of my neck as I finished washing my face
before going to work. This lump was fairly large, about 4 cm in size. I really
had no idea how long it had been there because it was the first time I had
noticed it. I didn’t think too much about it but jokingly asked my wife to look
at it. She became worried right away and had me make an appointment to see our
During the appointment, I could
see that my doctor was a little worried but was trying not to cause any
unnecessary alarm by speaking casually. She said that she had seen patients in
the past who had a certain condition that could cause swelling in the neck. But
I knew she was concerned it was more than that because she booked an ultrasound
for me in addition to a test for the condition she mentioned.
She kept saying that the
ultrasound was just a precaution because she wanted to cover all possibilities
and that I shouldn’t worry too much yet. I didn’t think too much of it at the
time, but I could tell that my wife was a little worried and made sure I made the
ultrasound appointment. I truly thank the due diligence of my family doctor
because, otherwise, my condition would have worsened with time.
On the day of my ultrasound, I was
a little worried. I hoped that it was easy to treat and not anything bad. The thought
of cancer was in the back of my mind, but I still thought it was almost
impossible. I didn’t think cancer would happen to me, especially because there
was no history of cancer in my family.
Perhaps this is what others refer
to as denial, but I wasn’t consciously doing it. I believe this is an example
of when we are in certain situations, we ourselves don’t realize what is
happening. But people around us, like family members and close friends, can see
the bigger picture and help us understand it.
In my case, it was my wife who saw
what was happening and made sure I did everything necessary to find out what
was wrong with me. Otherwise, I would have delayed the tests because I didn’t
feel sick, tired, or show any other symptom of illness.
Hoping for Answers
During the ultrasound, the
technician was very careful in going through every inch of my neck, not just
the area with the lump. This examination took quite a while. At the end of the
session, I asked the technician what she saw and she wasn’t able to tell me.
She only said that there were some “things” there and that the doctor would take
a closer look and let me know.
I realized that she went around
my neck several times because there were other masses there. It wasn’t just the
large bump on the side of my neck; there were other growths all over my neck.
Now there were even more questions than answers.
When the ultrasound results came
back, I went to see my family physician hoping for some answers. When I asked
her what she thought about the results, she simply told me that there was a
large mass about 4 cm in size and other masses as well around my neck. But she
didn’t know whether the large mass was cancerous. The other masses were
smaller, which was why we couldn’t see them or feel them yet.
The doctor asked me if I wanted
to see a surgeon or a head and neck specialist. I was still pretty naïve at
that point so I didn’t think much of the choices she gave me. I simply told her
to arrange whatever she thought was best.
She made an appointment for me to
see the surgeon and mentioned that a biopsy may be required. I did start to
feel a little more anxious then, but I doubted that it was anything close to
what my family members were feeling. They didn’t share their concerns with me,
but I could tell from their faces that they were worried.
When I went to see the
specialist, he wasn’t afraid to say what was on his mind. During my first
appointment, he felt around my neck and immediately said that he thought I had
I remember that I wasn’t that
scared or worried at the time because the doctor was only guessing and no tests
had been done yet. I still truly believed that God was watching over me and
would look after me.
My belief was not just a blind
belief in God. It was backed up by experiences of how He had looked after me
and my family in the past, especially when my daughter was born with a
diaphragmatic hernia in 2003. I knew that there was still a chance that this
lump in my neck was nothing serious or just a benign tumor that could be easily
After the physical examination by the
surgeon, he arranged a biopsy for me. When the results came back a week later,
the surgeon made an appointment to discuss the report with me.
He led my wife and me into his
office, sat us down, was silent for a little bit, and then came right out and
said, “I’m sorry, but it is cancerous.” I maintained my composure and asked if
it was benign or malignant. He said it was malignant and added that that was
not the real problem.
I looked at him for an explanation
of what he meant by that. He continued by saying that the lump in my neck was
not the source of the cancer. The cancer had spread to my neck, and it would be a race against time to find the
source of it.
At that point, I pretty much fell
apart. Tears gathered in my eyes, and my heart started beating faster. For a
moment, I felt that my God had failed me. I had never felt so afraid in my
My mind raced through all sorts of
scenarios. Could I be cured? What are my
chances of survival? How much longer do I have to live? How is my life going to
change? Who is going to take care of my family?
As I tried to process the
diagnosis, I did my best to calmly ask the surgeon what the next step would be.
He explained that several different tests would need to be done to find the
source of the cancer—further biopsy, CT scan, bone scan, and MRI.
Something I am very thankful for now
is that the surgeon suspected that the cancer might have originated from my
nose and scheduled me to see a nose specialist as well as a couple of
oncologists at the Sunnybrook Cancer Center. With cancer of the nasopharynx
(nose), the typical symptoms are nosebleeds and a blocked nasal passage on one
side. I had none of those symptoms, but the doctor nevertheless made an
appointment with the nose specialist.
After we left the office, my wife
went out to call my parents while I waited for appointments to be scheduled for
the different tests I had to take. I knew my wife was quite upset, but I really
had no idea what I could say to her. I was still feeling perfectly normal at
the time because I had no symptoms whatsoever of the disease. It was hard for
me to accept and believe that I had cancer.
FINDING COMFORT AND DEALING WITH TREATMENT
The drive home was very quiet. That
night was a very long night for me. I had never felt so cold and lonely. The
first thing I thought about was my chance of survival. I also started wondering
if I would be able to see my young children grow up. I truly felt that my road
had come to an end, and I no longer had a future ahead of me.
We often hear people talk about
looking at life from the perspective of death, and I truly saw my whole life
coming to an end at that point. Many things that I should or should not have
done started to become clearer to me. My past flashed through my mind, and I
started to worry that God wasn’t pleased with me and that He had left me on my
It happened that Pr YM Yang was
leading a week-long Bible seminar at Toronto Church (I was living in Toronto at
the time). I missed the seminar the day I received the diagnosis, and when I
went to service the next evening a brother asked me why I had missed the
service when I was supposed to do audio recording. I didn’t know what to tell
him so I simply said that I was sick.
However, my dad had already spoken
to Pr Yang, asking him to put in a prayer request for me, so my wife and I were
comforted by the service that night. My wife told me that she felt a lot better
after listening to the sermon because Pr Yang described how he had also battled
against cancer. When I look back now, I can see that God’s provision and
arrangement is at times both mysterious and perfect.
A few days later I started going
in for tests. During the examination by the nose specialist, he inserted a
probe with a camera into my nose and found a growth at the back of my nose.
He immediately performed a biopsy
and removed some tissue samples. It wasn’t pretty and it didn’t feel pretty,
either. But I felt a sense of relief in my heart because they were able to find
the source of the cancer so quickly. I truly believe that this is all part of
A week later, I met with the
oncologist at Sunnybrook Cancer Center. By that time, the results of the biopsy
were back, and the oncologist confirmed that I had cancer of the nose. They explained
the types of treatment that I would need to undergo and approximately when they
I was seen by the radiation
oncologist, the surgical oncologist, as well as the medical oncologist. They
told me that surgery was not necessary yet, but I would have to undergo both
radiation and chemotherapy at the same time. They let me know all the possible
side effects and the preparations I needed for treatment, such as visiting the
dentist and having a feeding tube put in my stomach. All of this happened
fairly quickly within a month’s time.
I was scheduled for six months of
treatment: I had to undergo one cycle of chemotherapy each month for a total of
six cycles. The first three cycles were accompanied by thirty-four days of
The second month of treatment was
the most difficult because the chemotherapy and the radiation were the heaviest
then. Whatever side effects were possible, I experienced: vomiting, mouth
sores, dry mouth, sore throat, constipation. Whatever came with the treatment,
LEARNING THROUGH TRIALS
Under such circumstances, it is
not surprising when people ask God, “How could You let this happen to me when I
believe in You?” I also asked the same question for a time while undergoing
But if we truly think about it,
many different things happen in our lives. Some may be more serious than others,
but each of us suffers through different tribulations simply because this is
part of life.
The question is not so much why
these things happen to us, but what we can learn from them. Does anyone learn
how to skate without ever falling? Has anyone learned how to ride a bike
without getting a few scrapes here and there? Has a child learned how to walk
without getting a few bumps and bruises? Any difficulty or hardship we face
teaches us something, and hopefully we become a better person from it.
We all know that one day, our
physical life will end. I remember a minister once said that to have a
meaningful, godly life, we should look at what we would like to have
accomplished before we die. I am not referring to physical things such as
traveling around the world at least once, but rather what we need to do to
prepare ourselves so that we can be at Jesus’ bosom in His heavenly kingdom.
While dealing with cancer,
especially in December 2007, when I felt physically and spiritually at the
weakest, I started to appreciate and understand what ministers mean when they
encourage us to lead a meaningful godly life.
When I was spiritually weak, all I
could think about was how unfair my life was compared to others. I wondered how
others who did worse things than I ever did could go unpunished when I suffered
while trying to live a godly life.
I tried to make sense of God’s
righteousness from my own perspective, but I realized that it was only making
me weaker. I thank God that as I prayed about my situation and attitude, He
helped me understand that how we view our lives depends on asking the correct
types of questions. Do we often ask God why certain things happen to us? Or do
we ask what we can learn from this opportunity that God has provided us?
I will be the first to admit that
sometimes it is hard for me to ask the right questions. When we are weak, we
tend to ask why. But Jesus can help us. We should pray and ask Him to give us
strength. And if and when we ask Him sincerely and patiently, He will give us
the strength we need to overcome whatever obstacles we are facing.
We have to make the most of our time
to know God and serve Him. So whenever we come to church and attend services or
whenever we need to do a little work for God, we shouldn’t do it because it is
our obligation as a Christian. Rather, it is an opportunity provided by God for
us to get to know Him and learn from Him.
When we go to school, we learn.
When we go to work, we train. When we work for God, we grow. And when we face
challenges, we are refined. The question is whether we take hold of these
RELYING ON GOD
“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we
eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these
things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all
these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all
these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for
tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own
trouble.” (Mt 6:31-34)
“Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin?
And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the
very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of
more value than many sparrows. Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I
will also confess before My Father who is in heaven.” (Mt 10:29-32)
We don’t know what will happen to
us each day, but we do know who has control of tomorrow. And we are worth more
than many sparrows, so if we believe in God and acknowledge Him, He will surely
look after us.
I completed all the necessary
treatments in April 2008. It was definitely difficult, but God saw me through
it. I will always cherish this experience and the lessons I learned.
As I look back at these
experiences now, I truly see and understand how God guides us and leads us. It
requires us first to place our faith and reliance on Him because we simply cannot
see what is ahead of us. I also realized that we cannot just rely on what we,
as man, think is good but must rely on what God thinks is good. It is difficult
do this sometimes, but the more we know the words of God in the Bible, the
easier it is for us to differentiate what God thinks and what we think.
Please continue to pray for me,
that He will continue to lead me and guide me to walk on His path. May all
glory, praise, and honor be unto His name.