Results

 

 

 

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We all wait for results.

As children, we wait to find out the results of a test. How did we score? As adults, we might wait to find out the results of a job interview, or an application for a credit card or perhaps a home loan.

 Other words for “result” might be “consequence” or “outcome.”

Where do we stand? How do we stack up? What is our status? Everyone waits for results. Everyone knows what it feels like to sit there and wait. Meanwhile your heat beats. Meanwhile the sun inches across the sky. Meanwhile the entire world keeps on chugging away. And you wait …

My wife and I sat in the tiny room at the doctor’s office. We were waiting to hear the results. We were waiting to find out how bad the cancer was … or was not. Tick-tock. Tick-tock. My tests – a CT Scan and a Bone Scan – had been completed. I had the “films” of both scans, but the images meant nothing to me. We were waiting for the doctor to give us “the news.”

I thought about other times when I had waited for results with my wife. Three pregnancy tests and three ultrasound exams – and three boys. Twenty plus years later we again waited to hear the results of tests and ultrasound exams – and now we have four grandchildren. Life evolving. The family growing. Excitement. Anticipation.

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Some results are fun and simple and relaxing. Like watching a football game and waiting for the referees to review the touchdown. Will your team get favorable results? What will be the outcome?

Or how about standing on a grassy hill, waiting for your soon-to-be daughter-in-law to crest the hill. Will she be ahead of all the other runners? Will she look strong?

Results always seem to involve a period of waiting. Sometimes you wait in a room. Sometimes you wait by the phone. Sometimes you wait on a hillside. Results will bring news. Good news or not-so-good news. Results will bring the possibility of change. Results bring a score, and that score affects your next moment, and sometimes it affects your whole life.

We sat. We waited. The word “cancer” floated in the air all around us. How bad was it? We knew it was there (no doubt about that). But how nasty was it? How aggressive? How … lethal?

Tick-tock.

And then, at last, the door opened and the doctor was there. Smiling. “I’m sorry for the wait,” he said. “I’ll be another five minutes.” A big smile. “But I have good news for you,” he said. “Just wanted to give you a teaser.” And just like that, he was gone again.

Good news!

A partial result only. Two words. But those two words had such power! Good news! Those two words gave us instant hope. Those two words flooded the room. My wife hugged me. I closed my eyes. Good news! Two of the most glorious words in all of the English language.

I thought about the men and women who have waited in tiny rooms for a doctor to give them news, to tell them the results, only to learn that the news was not good and that the results were not favorable. How did they process that information? How did they carry it? Those men and women knew - immediately - that their lives would never be the same. How did they cope?

It is in those dark moments that God's promise can suddenly become powerful. "I am with you always. Even until the end."

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There is no better promise than that. And the promise is available to us all, no matter what kind of results or circumstances we might be facing. Good news or bad news. "I am with you" means ... I am with you.

The doctor came back. Closed the door. Sat down. "There are two kinds of prostate cancer," he said. "Treatable and curable, and treatable and non-curable."

We stared at him. He was smiling. Beaming. I could not help but wonder how many times he sat in small rooms and delivered bad news. Life-changing news. Unimaginable news. But he had given us a teaser. He had said "good" news. I held my breath. I thanked God, not just for being with me until the end, but for the gift of good news. Good results. Hope.

"Your cancer," said the doctor. "Is curable."

 

Not This Time!

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I grew up with cancer.

Beverly was my mother's name. They say that I look like her (short, stocky, tanned) and that my personality is much like hers was. Beverly was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer - a skin disease - when I was about four years old. The disease was incurable. Terminal. And even though they have made great strides in the field of medicine, it remains incurable.

I watched my mother fight this battle. When I close my eyes, the images of her are still as vivid today as they were over fifty years ago. As a boy, I would stand in the doorway of her room and look in to see her sleeping on the bed, curled up under blankets. I held my breath and watched to see if the blankets were moving. Because if they were moving, she was still with me.

Sometimes it was hard to tell if those blankets were moving.

The day came when the cancer finally took her from us. I remember when the phone call came late one night. No one had to tell me. I knew she was gone.

That was a long time ago. But I still feel it. There are some things we never get over. We just learn to carry the pain. To help with that pain, I became a long distance runner. Forty-seven years and I am still running.

Regional Championships - 8th Grade. The Mile. I'm in the green. The man in the glasses is Johnny Coopwood, my grandfather, who is still alive at the age of 99.

Regional Championships - 8th Grade. The Mile. I'm in the green. The man in the glasses is Johnny Coopwood, my grandfather, who is still alive at the age of 99.

My father eventually remarried. And I was lucky enough to have a second mother. Carolyn. She did not hesitate to love me, to help me, to laugh with me. She had known Beverly, had even brought food over to the house. Carolyn did her best to step into Beverly's shoes, and she did a great job. She is still doing a great job. Today she sends me text messages and letters with little hearts. "A message from your Mama" she says. It always makes me smile.

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So you can imagine how hard it was to hear the news that cancer had found its way into Carolyn's body. This time it was breast cancer.

Really? Cancer? Again? Are you kidding me!

I felt like the Grim Reaper was haunting me. Taunting me. Carrying his horrible stick (cancer) and jabbing at my life, at my heart. "I've come back," he hissed in the dark night. "You can't get away."

And then he jabbed his cancer stick at my father.

And then he jabbed it at me.

 Cancer - everywhere. Bam, bam, bam! And suddenly it all came crashing back to me. Memories of Beverly, of trips to the hospital, of remission, of angry red sores covering her body, and then of that closed casket only ten feet away. Dark images. Pain.

YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING! I just wanted that Grim Reaper to go away and leave me alone. I was 57. I did not want to deal with this again. I could not believe it.

So what did I do? I did the only thing I knew how to do. I did what I had done since the age of eleven, shortly after Beverly's death. I put on my running shoes, found a trail, ran down it until I was far away and tired, and then I talked to God. I let it all out. I told him the whole story.

And, just like always, there he was. It is hard to explain. But take it from me: it's real. Every time I have done this I have felt a comfort. A peace that cannot be understood or even explained. All my life I have felt this peace. Whenever I have reached an end, or an impasse, or become dejected and afraid, I have gone in search of God ... and he has always been there.

Always.

Which brings me to this day. This moment. Cancer again. Me, my father, and my mother Carolyn. Unbelievable. But guess what? I am older now. I have learned a lot. I have gained strength. I am not a ten-year old boy. I know how to fight battles. I know how to endure, to keep going, even if it hurts.

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I know where my strength comes from. And I have an endless supply to draw from.

So let that Grim Reaper try his best. He is not going to win. Not this time. Because now I have the courage and the strength to stop, turn around, and look him right in the eye.

"Not this time," I tell him. "This time, I am going to beat you."

And with that, I press on.