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Five weeks ago, my new urologist said that we need to eliminate the possibility that I have bladder cancer. My issue is that after I do even mild exercise I have visible blood in my urine. This has happened in the past and was determined to be kidney stones (which is still a strong possibility). At that time, though, it infrequently happened. Now it is almost every day. Ironically, the first urine test that the urologist took had perfect results, with no blood (visible or not visible) showing up in the test. Now I feel like that car that is taken to the mechanic with an issue, and the issue refuses to happen in front of the mechanic.

How do we handle not knowing? As I’m writing this on Sunday, I’m anticipating tomorrow having a scope of my bladder. Part of my delay is that the urologist wanted me to have a CT scan before he did the scope. I already had two weeks of vacation scheduled, and I couldn’t get an appointment for the CT scan before we left. I scheduled the CT scan for the morning after we returned. This was a week ago Monday. Over the years as a cancer-survivor, I have had many CT scans. The only part that caused me some dread was the stuff that they make us drink before the CT scan happens. This drink has always been terrible, and difficult for me to choke down. Way back when I was having CT scans often, the woman who ran the test would keep lemon juice and sugar on hand to put into my drink. Otherwise I was likely to throw most of it back up. This last week, when I shared my concern about the drink, I was pleasantly surprised to be told that they no longer use this drink. It’s a good thing that I wasn’t worried about this!

How often do we worry? Would this situation about possibly having cancer bother anyone? Someone that I confided in asked if it would affect our vacation knowing that there might be an issue. Earlier in my life this possibility would have ruined my vacation. At that time, I had the makings of being a world-class worrier! My Christian faith has taught me that worry is not helpful. One of my favorite scriptures (I seem to have many!) is Matthew 6:34. Using the NIV version, it says: “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own”. It’s easy to read this verse but much harder to live it! The truth is, though, that it is possible to turn our worries over to God and become a reformed worrier. People tell me that they can’t stop worrying, that it is part of their nature. I disagree. I believe that we choose to worry. If it turns out that I don’t have cancer, I would have worried for nothing. If I do have cancer (again), I trust that God will guide me day by day.

I wonder if there are many people in our communities who need to learn how to let go of worry? Is this something that our church members are learning, and practicing? Christian faith doesn’t mean that nothing bad will happen to us. It means that God will help us to carry the load when something does happen. We don’t need to worry in advance about what might possibly happen. Do you know how much energy it takes to worry?!? I’m confident that there are other places in our lives where we can more effectively use this energy.

What would happen if we advertised in our communities that we can teach people to stop worrying? Would anyone believe us? Would anyone respond? I think that there are many times where we are not clearly communicating to our communities (especially those who don’t, or won’t, come to church) the difference that Christian faith can make in our life. How life-transforming can it be to stop worrying? This is what Christian faith does—it transforms lives. It starts with us and can be very contagious if we put ourselves into positions to share it!

Your brother on the journey, Mark

More of the story: This morning (Monday) I went to the doctor. He decided not to scope the bladder and does not believe that I have cancer. Informed by the CT Scan, he can see that I have a large kidney stone (about 3 cm) stuck in my kidney. It’s not just round but has branches. Being an optimist, I asked if we leave it alone will it possibly come out on its own? His answer was not only in the negative, but he said that it will continue to grow until it eventually kills the kidney. Well, inactivity is not a good plan. We went over three different approaches, with the doctor deciding on doing surgery where he uses a laser to break the stone into pieces. Since there will be bleeding, which makes it difficult to see through the scope, the doctor anticipates needing more than one procedure. My first surgery is scheduled for Wednesday, August 1, at 1:30 PM. I’m not worried about the procedure, but I do appreciate your prayers!

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