My sister Judy and me at the front entrance
(This is the first day after my surgery I'm feeling well enough to write, so I thought I'd share a few thoughts what God has been teaching me this week.)

St. Augustine was well known for his large work, The City of God, that compared God's domain with man's.  I don't suppose either Augustine or the designers of City of Hope Clinical Research Hospital had that in mind, but I think Augustine would certainly approve of calling the "City of God" a City of Hope as well.  For it is in Christ Jesus that we have hope of eternal life for this life and the next.  I have also found that God's hope is for this life as well. It's a hope that stems from the goodness of God – his affection for His creatures that moves him to act on their behalf, because it is His good pleasure to see them rejoice in Him.  He is good.  He has been good to me this week.

In rhe emotional distress I faced after the diagnosis on January 11, I first saw that goodness in God's leading to two of the finest clinical oncologists I could ever "hope" to have cutting me open.  It just so happened (I use that phrase advisedly) that my first oncologist said on my first visit, "You are fortunate that we have working in this area one of the finest surgical oncologists at City of Hope hospital, with years of experience specifically operating on tumors.  He has just opened up an office nearby.  I want to go over your scans with him in the morning, then I want you to make an appointment with him immediately."  It turns out that he is not only one of the finest in the area, but probably in California and the nation as well.  In his part if the surgery, Dr. Vijay Trisal succeeded in getting the entire primary tumor out, including the lymph nodes and associated tissue.  Then he carefully removed a foot of small intestine and sutured it successfully together allowing me to eat my first clear liquid food today.  In another answer to prayer and evidence of His goodness, He moved Dr. Trisal to go for primary tumor removal first--a good thing, because by Feb. 26 it was almost completely blocking my small intestine.  The Lord him make that critical decision in the nick of time.

Assisting Dr. Trisal on Tuesday was Dr. Gagandeep Singh, another outstanding surgeon--chief of surgery here at COH and one who knows the cutting edge science as well as the cutting edge of the scalpel.  Dr. Singh spent six of the eight hour operation removing as many liver tumors and tumor clusters as he could, including 86 from the surface.  Wisely he decided not to attempt a major resection, though, lest I face loss of function.  "You can survive without a kidney," he said, "but not without a liver."  In his meeting with me the prior day, he encouraged me with promising new treatments that may be ready when I need them – targeted therapies that can specifically target the tumor cells without harming healthy tissue.  I was very glad to know that Dr. Singh, Dr. Trisal and City of Hope are on the leading edge of cancer treatment.

Helford Hospital at City of Hope, where I write from
I was reminded again how God's goodness is reflected in the goodness of His people.  While I have had to learn some patience with hospital staff some days (more about this in a satire perhaps tomorrow), I was glad to have regular visitors flow into my groggy field of vision, encourage me, and pray for me.  My sister would do anything she could, anything I asked; her family made arrangements to help free up her time so she could be with me the whole week.  

I will not deny that an operation of this magnitude is an ordeal.  Imagine every slight cough or hiccup leading to stabs of pain in the abdomen.  Imagine the struggle to breathe normally.  I tell you, when you lose your health, even temporarily, you understand what a precious gift it is.  So many people do the simplest, ordinary things every day in ways that would have caused me to shrink in horror at the thought of going through that pain again.  Health is itself a gift of God's goodness.  It is tragic to think of the many who, because of refusal to accept God's salvation from their sin, choose sickness over eternal life, pain over God's pleasure, tears over God's good gifts.

At this point I'm getting a little better each day.  The first 3 days after surgery were the hardest, but I'm making progress.  It was a great relief today when Dr. Singh gave permission to remove the breathing tube.  Now another day or two
 and I could be tube-free.    We celebrate the goodness of God by saying grace before meals.  I tell you, no clear broth and apple juice was better blessed!  Soon I hope I will be home, where challenges will continue in my City of Hope under God.