Staring Down a Big Surgery
As a Cancer Fighter, how do you prepare for a big surgery? How do you avoid anxiety? How do you face it all?
As a Cancer Fighter with Stage IV, you will find that some sort of surgery is probably unavoidable. My journey has just passed the one year mark, and I've already had two surgeries. But, this upcoming surgery is one we put off until chemotherapy reduced the number of lesions on my liver. Prior to today, there were too many lesions and our surgical team did not want slice up my liver since the lesions were so spread out throughout it. We also delayed it because it would require a lengthy time off of chemo and we just didn't feel good to stop chemo until now.
Those are just details, but how do you really face surgery...a big surgery?
I remember meeting my surgeon for the first time and discussing the potential risks and the complexity of the surgery itself. That was all well and good, until I went to YouTube and searched to see if they had video of the exact surgery I was to be having. Yeah, I have mixed feelings about that. On one hand, I'm glad I know what I am in for to some degree - every surgery is a bit different, so no video is going to be exactly what will happen to you. On the other hand, it was the first time I looked at something and felt that even if I had all the medical training, this surgery looked daunting. But, unlike the commercial, there's no "easy button" to push, right?
For me, I added the complication of acute pain in my colon that started a month before surgery and could take me out for hours each day. Up to this point, I had never yelled out in pain over and over, but now this pain ate my lunch every day and the yelling was my new daily normal. Each time I'd go through a session of pain I would actually cry, it was excruciating and nothing was available to me to take it away. I remember turning to my wife, Shara, and saying, "I will make it to surgery, but I don't know how." The thought that the biggest thing the next day would bring is another brutal bout with pain was crushing the fight in me slowly.
Okay, okay, Pete, we get it, it was really bad, but how did you face it?
The answer I found was: I can't face it. I had to turn to the God who delivered me from surgeries, from 27 rounds of chemo, and who had walked with me my entire life. This journey has taught me that I do not have any control over tomorrow. No matter how much I read up on my surgery, no matter how many testimonies I listen to of survivors who had the procedure and it went swimmingly...none proved to give me peace. Peace came when I conceded the future. My desperate grasps at control had to end. I had to give myself over to my Father.
As a Cancer Fighter, you can relate to Jesus‘a cry, "Father, Father, why have you forsaken me?" With daily, acute pain, you can feel abandoned and alone. But, you can also be hopeful of the words, "This is my son with whom I am well pleased." I face my surgery by turning to my Father and giving him my life, my future, the results. I surrender all of it to him.