Tom Long, Professor of Preaching at Princeton Theological, once said, “You need three things for a good funeral: a good text, a good community and a good saint. In my 30 years of officiating and witnessing funerals, I found this to be true. In fact, I would often know when I was entering a funeral worship service it was going to be good because I knew we had a good biblical text, a good community of faith gathered, and a good saint to inspire us. I had a radical prostatectomy this past Wednesday at Duke Cancer Center and have discovered a similar formula for a good surgery. There are three things you need: a good medical team, a good network of support, and a good outlook on life. I am pleased to share I had a successful surgery and am on a good path of healing, despite this cursed catheter that I’m sure is a tool of the devil! My surgeon, Dr. Judd Moul, is well-respected nationally and often performs surgeries on other surgeons who come to him because of his excellent skill and wisdom. Following surgery, he told me he saw good margins on the prostate and good lymph nodes surrounding it. The pre-op and post-op team of doctors, nurses and other medical personnel were competent and caring. I had an excellent medical team.
I also had a good support network, a community of family and friends that cared and do care for me. As part of my surgery, I volunteered to be part of a research study on a potential drug for Alzheimers and dementia patients. The research team did a spinal tap before and after surgery, monitored my brain during surgery and are giving me memory tests before and after surgery. As part of the study they asked a series of questions like, “Do you have someone who hugs you regularly? Do you have someone you can talk to about your problems? Do you have someone who loves you?” I was fortunate to be able to answer all those “soft science” questions with a high mark. What good is it to have a million twitter followers, but no one to sleep on a chair beside you in the hospital after surgery? Or no one to take care of you once released from the hospital? The longer I live, the more I understand the value of friendship, companionship, affection, real community and love. The scientific community is beginning to recognize how important love is for a person’s total well-being.
Finally, a good outlook on life is also a part of a successful surgery. Generally, having a positive vision of the future is an important element in our health and recovering from surgery. We need to have hope that we can weather storms and overcome the physical trauma surgery induces and the possible debilitating elements surgery can bring. For me this is met with my Christian faith. I have a belief that there is a God who knows me and loves me and walks with me wherever I go. I have a vision of life that is grounded in the incarnation of Jesus Christ, who came to earth to show us how to live, how to die and how to love. I know there are untold tragedies taking place in the world every day (Ukraine, for example) and that innocent people die and good persons have negative outcomes from surgeries. I can’t explain all evil, but I have chosen to put my trust in a God, that I believe is on the side of good, justice and wellness. Ultimately, the goodness and justice and love of God will prevail. I happen to be one who has experienced a glimpse of that in my brief walk on this earth.
It has really hit me in these post-op days that the Apostle Paul’s words are so true for every facet of life, including surgery. He wrote, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love” (1 Cor 13:13). I had faith in God, hope that my medical team was competent, and was a recipient of love from people God has brought into my life years ago as well as recent days. And I can tell you there is nothing greater than loving and being loved. Paul has given us a recipe for successful surgeries and successful living. The things of this world fade away, but there are things that abide. Faith, hope and love are the elements we need as we face surgery and face life. They are enduring. I’m finding out the truth of that each day that I live.
Founder and CEO of C3-Christians Caring for Creation