I faced an Intense Emotional and Spiritual Journey from 9 June 2020 to 3 July 2020
Coping with Crisis and Grief III
On 9/6/20, I was told that one of my relative had cancer and on 11/6/20 I wrote the advice to advice the family what to expect and do as follows:
Most of us are not taught how to cope with crisis and grief. We have no understanding of the process involved. In our lifetime we will encounter many crises. It is thus to our advantage to learn for ourselves how to cope with crisis.
Any significant change in our circumstances or loss will cause us to grief. For instance:
Changes in health
A loved one’s serious illness
Forced to change job
Loss of financial stability
Changes in working arrangement during Covid-19
In 2017 I did not know that I was grieving when I had recurrences of liver cancer. I had recorded my experiences on pages 36 and 105 in my https://jameslau88.com/battling_liver_cancer_for_20_years.pdf
It was then that I have found the best presentation in the internet on:
Coping with Grief and Loss
Understanding the Grieving Process and Learning to Heal
It is also very enlightening to note how Jesus went through the same normal human emotions at Gethsemane, in Mark 14:33-34 (NIV), Matthew 26:37-38, 44 (NIV), Luke 22:42-44 (NIV), such as:
Prayed more earnestly
An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him
We are all unique and we will response differently. It is all right to have a roller coaster ride with up and down, high and low with our emotions. We should not berate ourselves on how we feel. We must affirm our emotions!!!
It is vitally important to understand that a big part of the healing process of grieving was an automatic seeking out of face-to-face support from our family members, close friends who care and are close to us, and to pray constantly.
Written on 9 June 2020
11th MRI Results
On 12/6/20, yesterday, I received my 11th MRI results. It showed that:
Segment 8/4a has increased from 1.9 cm to 5.3 cm
Segment 2/3 has increased from 1.9 cm to 2.1 cm
While the rest are largely unchanged
Segment 2 dome is 2.1 cm
Segment 2 is 1.8 cm
Segment 2 is 3.1 cm
Segment 1/2 is 1.3 cm
I was down hearted, disappointed and sad with the results. I was hoping for a good result as I have been cutting down on my sugar and starchy carbohydrates for more than 9 months, since October 2019.
The day before on 11/6/20, I was advising a relative who has cancer on how to “Cope with Loss and Grief.” I also passed the article to others. Was it a co-incidence or God-incidence that I have to walk my talk with my advice?
I revisited my article and reflected on what I have written. To cope and to heal with any “new” normal or circumstances, I have to quickly accept and move on with my life. I must not imprison myself in a rut and be depressed.
I find that the processes of emotional healing are:
- Befriend my pain—Get more acquainted with my unique suffering. Have the courage to embrace my fear and brokenness. Cry over my special sadness. Affirm my grief.
- Place my suffering under the blessing—If I see the situation negatively then I am placing it under a curse. But if I choose to see the “new” situation positively then I am placing it under a blessing. It is my choice. I can then see that I need help from God, friends, family and doctors to actively find the equivalent benefits.
- Face my sadness—Be not afraid to pour out my anxiety and doubts to my family members or close friends, in a face-to-face encounter, to seek comfort and support. I know that they cannot do much, but it is therapeutic to voice my pain. They should not treat this occasional outpouring as unnecessary self-pity or endless griping.
- Listen to the still small voice—Go to my God, Jesus, for support and listen to a phrase, a word, an article or an angel in the form of a person unconsciously carrying me through my abyss. I need another human being to survive in this VUCAD (Vulnerable, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous, Disruptive) world.
- Move on—Learn to quickly accept my pain and move on living my life.
Today, I am more at peace. I am glad that there was NO new tumor. I will concentrate my energy to fight my liver cancer. I will brace myself not to waste my energy in being fearful and anxious. Be brave and not be afraid. There is much to look forward to—so long as there is life.
I am blessed by God to be able to survive for more than 21 years of liver cancer. It was a tough fight but in today’s medical advanced world there is life–even with cancer. Don’t ever give up the fight!!!
Written on 13 June 2020
Placing my Suffering under the Blessing
God has been gracious and merciful to me and I am grateful. God has seen me through for the past 21 years in my battle with my liver cancer. I am blessed and it is a miracle that I have lasted so long.
God has given me a free will to choose to focus on Him, on the positive and on the blessings.
It is vitally important that I concentrate on the blessings and be thankful.
It is wonderful that I have a God who is love and who can transform my heart whenever I go to Him. But I am not a robot and thus I must affirm my humanness. That means I failed often but I also need to Affirm my feelings which are not always positive. I failed and must not play the victim card or the unlucky one or be negative or unforgiving. I can always go to Him 70 x 7 times and know He will transform me to be kind and patient and to be able to hear His still small voice in whatever forms.
Today I saw the Interventional Radiologist and Nuclear Medicine doctors. By being able to “hear” the still small voice, I am quick to seize the day to get both the doctors to schedule me to start my nuclear medicine Y-90 and the mapping procedure this coming Thursday. It is fantastically fast and early. Only 3 days away. I was able to get the nurse to schedule me such that I don’t have to come one day earlier to wait for the procedure.
I must always remember that I am human and spiritual at the same time and I can go to my loving God to ask for support, comfort and transformation endlessly. And to know and have faith that He will never turn away anyone who comes to Him.
I intent to fight my cancer with God’s help and the support of family, relatives, doctors and friends. I will give it a good fight. I may be knocked down every now and then, but I hope not to be knocked out. It has been 21 rounds or 21 years fight already!!! Hurray for supporting me. I am still going strong!!!
Written on 15/6/20
Yes, I am certain that God’s hand is in the quick and neat schedule. Thank you, God.
I forgot to mention that yesterday I asked the nuclear medicine doctor whether he could place the Y-90 on both the right and left lobes on the same occasion. He said that my last liver function test results showed that I am able to take it. Although many preferred to do them, one lobe at a time, to be relatively safer. I told him I choose to do them together as I do not want to do too many procedures if I could help it. He agreed but would confirm my preference when yesterday’s liver function tests are known later. He asked whether I prefer the procedure to be done through my hand or groin. I told him I would leave it to the doctor’s preference as I could tolerate either. It is so fantastic to be given the time to ask questions and to be told the risks and given the options to choose. I am able to choose because I have done the procedure before. My objectives for recording my details are to share my experience. We are all unique and we will respond differently. That’s OK.
Written on 16/6/20
Unconditional Trust when I Suffer from the Book of Job in YouTube
I agree with Dr Mack that I must be strong and remain strong to fight the liver cancer. But how to be strong with such a tough opponent? People will respond differently. That’s to be expected.
I have been fighting this liver cancer for the past 21 years and being human, it would be easy, for me, to place this suffering in the negative. This to me means—to moan, whine, complain endlessly, grumble, self-pity, be a victim and be in despair. The courageous part is to stay strong and remain strong and to place my suffering in the positive—to find the blessing in and through the suffering!! For this I need constant support and reminders from family, friends and God.
I believe in God. My God is a loving God who is gracious, wise, compassionate, merciful and purposeful to me. So how do I reconcile this unconditional loving God with my 21 years of suffering?
Suffering is a complex, ambiguous and disruptive topic (CAD). To have a clearer understanding of the subject I go to the Book of Job in the Bible. There are 42 chapters on suffering and the discourse on suffering between Job and his three friends on why God allow, permit, or even created suffering for individuals are such an informative and educational read. Unfortunately, it is not easy to interpret it. I need help from various writers on the subject. For I believe that if I have a correct understanding of it, I will be able to put my suffering under the blessing.
To simplify and summarize my understanding, I come to the following conclusions:
God loves me unconditionally, but do I trust God unconditionally when I suffer? It is easy to trust God when He fulfills my conditions, but can I unconditionally trust God? Yes, with no conditions from me!!! Can I accept in my mind and heart the following statements?
- The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away (Job 1:21 NIV)
- Accept whatever He gives—and give whatever He takes with a big smile. (Mother Teresa–A Gift for God, pg 47)
- God has a plan for me, and He is in charge of my life
On 18/6/2020, I had the mapping for the nuclear medicine Y-90 carried out. This mapping is to embolize (block) the nuclear medicine from spreading from the liver to the gut and lung. If it succeeds, then I can go for the nuclear medicine Y-90 (Yttrium 90) to be introduced to the tumors in my liver later. I had done this Y-90 in 2017 and it was good. But, in 2000 when I was given the nuclear medicine of radioactive iodine, there was no embolizing and the nuclear radioactive iodine spread to my guts and heart, and I developed high fever to fight the spread. I had to be hospitalized for 42 days. It was a terrible and awful experience.
To stay strong for the procedure, I needed to be brave myself, so I revisited and listened to the various interpretation on the Book of Job in the Internet below. In the procedure there was no GA or local anesthesia. I was fully awake, and the wiring was introduced through my left wrist as my preferred means instead of through the groin to my liver. During the process the Interventional Radiologist kept asking me whether it was painful along the way. My belief is that if I trust that God is in charge of my life, I should not stop the doctor from proceeding as the doctor has planned to do. At one of the later stages, I felt my heart at one time to be painful and kidney to be painful too. But I could endure and stand the pain and thus let the procedure continue. As I prayed for strength and diversion, I kept focusing on Jesus walking on the water or Jesus’ promise that He will never turn away anyone who comes to Him. I was tired but the procedure went well, and I was able to come home in the evening instead of staying in the hospital to recuperate. I remained strong.
I find the following YouTube programs to be very useful and some of you may find them to be so:
Job: When the Righteous Suffer – John Piper (Part 1)
Job: When the Righteous Suffer – John Piper (Part 2)
The Book of Job – Part 1/2 (Derek Prince) – Job and his accusing friends
The Book of Job – Part 2/2 (Derek Prince) – GOD challenges Job
The Questions of A Man In Agony on Job by Ravi Zacharias
Why Suffering? Finding Meaning in our Difficult World by Ravi Zacharias
“The Book of Job (Part 1)” – Pastor Doug Batchelor
Hedge of God (Part 2) – Pastor Doug Batchelor
Despair & Faithless Friends (Part 3) – Pastor Doug Batchelor
The Big Questions of Life (Part 4) – Pastor Doug Batchelor
A Reflection of Christ (Part 5)” – Pastor Doug Batchelor
Trust God! – Charles R. Swindoll
Charles R. Swindoll – Let God lead you one step at a time
God’s Purpose in Our Pain (2 Cor 12:7-10) John MacArthur
John MacArthur: Why Does God Allow So Much Suffering and Evil
Learn How To Trust God’s Timing with Rick Warren
Joel Osteen – Unconditional Trust
John Piper: The Glory of God in the Midst of Affliction
The Book of Job – Rabbi Yitzchak Breitowitz
“God on Trial” – the theology of Job – Part 1 – Stephen Bohr
“God on Trial” – the theology of Job – Part 2 – Stephen Bohr
Leonard Ravenhill Sermon – Job https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=66DTB8w1Nbs
Why God Allows Suffering? Part 1 (Job 1) Pastor Greg Laurie
Why God Allows Suffering? Part 2 Pastor Greg Laurie
Have You Considered My Servant Job”- Jimmy Swaggart at FWC
Let Go and Trust God
Written on 19/6/2020
The battle is not mine but The Lord’s!
In May 2017 I had my first nuclear medicine Y-90 treatment on cancer tumours of 6.3 cm in Segment 8 and in Segment 5 of 0.9 cm. Segment 8 was successfully done while Segment 5 was not successful. I responded well to Y-90 treatment.
My forth coming battle is going to be a major one. My 11th MRI report showed that:
Cancer tumour in Segment 8/4a has increased from 1.9 cm to 5.3 cm
Cancer tumour in Segment 2/3 has increased from 1.9 cm to 2.1 cm
While the rest of the cancer tumours are largely unchanged
Segment 2 dome is 2.1 cm
Segment 2 is 1.8 cm
Segment 2 is 3.1 cm
Segment 1/2 is 1.3 cm
On 30/6/20 I will be having Y-90 treatment for all 6 tumours simultaneously.
On 18/6/20 the mapping showed that all the 6 tumours can be treated at one go. So I have to prepare my mind and heart to stay strong for the procedure. How? I have to go to the Lord and believe that this battle belongs to the Lord and is not mine alone. I must also believe that the Lord is sovereign, and the outcome is under His authority.
Does this mean that I do nothing and take no part? No. Far from it!! Learning from what I have read and listened to, I have a parallel responsibility to do my best, which includes consulting the best sources to cope with my situation; seek the help of wise people whom God has given the gift or talent to help me. I also go to the Internet to listen and mine the gold nuggets from the various speakers but also understand there are lots of fake and/or vested interest information out there. I do my utmost and I trust God with the healing and outcome.
It is important for me to focus on the Lord which is to pray to Him and to lean on Him and not focus on my circumstance. Thus I choose to place my suffering under the blessing, which means that I choose to concentrate on the positive aspect, not the negative.
What are the blessings? It took me a while to realise my blessings. I could have died 21 years ago due to my liver cancer then. I thank God for His blessings—His grace, His mercy, His forgiveness, His comfort, His strength, His support, His compassion, His patience, His kindness, His hope, His joy.
I believe that in the due process of suffering and overcoming it with God’s help, I can be strengthened and transformed to serve and to share with others in their trying circumstances. I will have the capacity to be more empathic so as to be able to extend:
Grace—I give it even if the person doesn’t deserve it.
Mercy—I don’t try to extract my due.
Forgiveness—I forgive more readily.
Comfort—Give a word or two of cheer.
Strength—Be strong and brave; and Fear Not.
Support—Allocate time to listen to the expressed pain.
Compassion—Understand his pain and pray for him.
Patience—Patiently bearing the shortcomings of others.
Kindness—I seek to ease his pain, anxiety, fear or anger.
Gratitude—Always say “thank you” with a smile.
Hope—Hope in the Lord and never give up on people.
Joy—The fruit of service is joy.
Please pray for my Y-90 to be successful.
Thank you once again.
I find the following videos helpful:
The battle is not yours but The Lord’s!
The Battle Belongs to the Lord by Max Lucado
Joyce Meyer – 2020 The Battle Belongs to the Lord
Joyce Meyer – Choosing to Trust God Sermon 2017
Joyce Meyer – 2020 Let God Fight Your Battles
10 Power Thoughts For Triumph – Joyce Meyer
Who is God? 2 Chronicles 20 – Ravi Zacharias
Joel Osteen Let God fight your battles for you
Dr. John Goetsch: The Battle is the Lord’s
Charles R. Swindoll – The battle is not yours but The Lords!
Pr Pavel Goia – “The Battle Belongs to the Lord” – 21st Apr 2018
Mark Finley – “When God Fights Your Battles”
God’s Victory, 2 Chronicles 20:17 – Pastor Chuck Smith
The Battle Belongs to the Lord – Rev Edmund Chan
Lord Help! by Dr David Jeremiah
Our Anchor In Times of Storm – Dr. Charles Stanley
The Battle is Not Yours, The Battle is the Lords, Rev. Dr. JoAnn Browning
The Battle Is Not Yours, But The Lord’s – Rev. Dr. J. Anthony Lloyd
THE BATTLE IS NOT YOURS, BUT GOD’S – Gabriel Swaggart
How to Fight in the Battle – Pastor Todd Cobbs 2 Chronicles 20:1-30
How We Fight Our Battles – Pastor Bill Johnson 2 Chronicles 20
Written on 25/6/20
Important to see my situation correctly
I agree wholeheartedly with what Dr Mack advised me below:
“it is often tough to go through an illness journey alone, so . . . you need to do is to get support from others, i.e. family, friends and peers. This is the core purpose of our support group. We are here to support each other mentally and emotionally. It is emotionally beneficial if you can share your feelings and experiences more with others whom you can
trust. And for this reason, I feel it is important to keep our chat group vibrant, relevant and emotionally supportive.
These are actually things that we all already know but need to remind each other now and again.”
Last night I discussed with my wife my situation again. I told her that even with all the support from family, friends and the Liver n Pancreas Support Group, I still, every now and then, feel stressed and tense. I have listened to various pastors for the past few days to give me the strength and courage to brace myself to be at ease with the coming Y-90 procedure on 30/6/20. I have even gone to see my priest for prayer and an anointing with oil on my forehead and palms. I know that I must focus on God and not on my situation in order to be positive, but I can’t help being anxious. Why?
During our discussion I was directed by the Spirit of God to look at my situation differently. All along, I have framed my Y-90 procedure as a major one because I wanted all the 6 tumours to be treated simultaneously. The Holy Spirit made me see that I should view the Y-90 as only targeting the biggest cancer tumor and happens to cover the 5 smaller ones along the way as a bonus. Whether two more of the other 5 tumours can be treated, depends on the doctors’ assessment of my condition. The moment I see my situation this way, I felt the whole load drop off my back!!!
I had done the Y-90 in 2017 and I had taken it well then. I feel good and at peace now!!!
Written on 29/6/20
Y-90 Procedure carried out on 30/6/20
I was asked, “They did one? Or all?” the day after the Y-90 procedure.
I answered, “All except two tiny ones, which the doctors feel would be too risky to do. They said that they did the largest tumour in one liver lobe and the tiny one beside it was in another lobe so it would be too risky to go to another vein to get to this tiny one. The other tiny one, they mentioned was too near another organ. They said that sometimes the Y-90 may be able to have some effect on the tiny one. If not, then they will do TACE later. I asked whether they can do RFA on them. They said no because it is too near something.
I am very happy with the Y-90 procedure. It went very well with me. I am grateful to God, the medical team, family and friends who rally around me and my wife.”
I was formerly advised that the normal procedure is to do one liver lobe at a time. During the preliminary discussion with the nuclear medicine doctor, I asked whether he could do all the 6 tumours, which were in different lobes, simultaneously. He said that it was done before and if my liver function test is ok, he will do as I have wanted.
After the Y-90 procedure was done, the nuclear medicine doctor mentioned that my liver is about half the normal liver size due to the many procedures that were done to it. He has made provision for my small size liver and has provided sufficient Y-90 to take care of the various tumours. He was happy with what he has done and felt good and reassured me that I should be ok. As usual, I asked whether I could go back home the same evening and he said I should be ok but wait for the ward doctor to monitor my condition. He told me he has read my book which I have given him before the procedure. He praised me and told me that I am a fighter!! A doctor told me that I, being at ease, must have also help the doctor to proceed with confidence and his best. I cannot ask for more.
All along, I have framed my Y-90 procedure as a major one because I wanted all the 6 tumours to be treated simultaneously. I felt the Lord has made me see that I should view the Y-90 as only targeting the biggest cancer tumour and happen to cover the 5 smaller ones along the way as a bonus. Whether two more of the other 5 tumours can be treated, depends on the doctors’ assessment of my condition. The moment I see my situation this way, I felt the whole load drop off my back!!! I was not under stress and tension anymore.
What have I learnt from this short episode? It is important for me to do my own part to be at ease for any critical procedure. It is to concentrate, with God’s help, on:
• The positive instead of the negative
• The challenges instead of the problems
• The sky instead of the mud
• The healing words instead of the hurtful words
• The forgiveness instead of the vengeance
• The understanding instead of bitterness
• Life instead of death
• Love instead of hatred
• Blessing instead of curse
• Being relaxed instead of being stressed
• Hope instead of despair
I am thankful for all the help, prayers and support that was offered. One never knows what a word or a phrase can do to get a person across the abyss. We just do our part to make our lives happy by helping others where we can. I feel good when I can contribute with my write up.
There will be crisis in life, and I have to learn to accept it quickly and move on with joy and to live life as best as I can.
Written on 3/7/20