Something that has always driven me a little bit crazy about Christians is their desire to be certain. About everything. Precise age of the earth? Know it! Celestial status of all people who die without knowing the rules of Canadian football? Got it! The world of belief, it seems, is only safe if it is known. Every corner of the Christian faith must be mapped, or it is nothing at all.
I once took a class on apocalypticism and the belief that the world would end, and I remember being especially upset that scholars had created a category for Christian prophets who wanted to predict things after they had already happened. They politely called it “retrospective prophecy.” I feel fairly certain it’s called “being a know-it-all.” Some things are shrouded in mystery, and anyone who pretends otherwise is probably also the kind of person who cheats at golf. No one wants to play the ball as it lies.
So let me tell you this, before it happens, so that you know where I’m at. Until recently, I was fairly convinced that I would die soon-ish. I thought, since I am pretty scrappy, that I could string things along as best I can. But I know that I am on the very edge of what medicine can promise. So when it came to stopping chemotherapy and testing the effectiveness of my immunotherapy drugs, I was trying not to be morbid. I know that it means that I will either die this year or live on. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll actually make it. But I didn’t know when I should finally find out if this is working.
So I prayed. I said, God, I don’t trust myself. Give me some advice. And I am only saying this because if I am wrong, I will need you. But if I’m right, I want you to know what I believed. I believed that God answered my absurdly specific prayer.
I’ll keep this general, because I don’t want to embarrass the people involved, but the next day I got an e-mail that said, hey, I don’t know if you remember me but I’m an oncologist and I read that you are trying to make a decision about stopping chemotherapy drugs. Do you know about this world expert in your particular cancer? I already talked to him about you and he can answer any questions you have. So I emailed the world’s leading expert in my cancer. And he immediately said, STOP CHEMO. And so I confirmed it with my oncologist, and I took a deep breath. And I laughed.
I stopped chemotherapy drugs because I believe that my immunotherapy drugs will hold. And because I believe that God gave me a sign, even though I barely believe in signs. But I do believe that sometimes when you ask God for things then something suprising happens. God answers.
So, my darlings, I want you to know that I am a little bit terrified that I will get scans that tell me that my tumors have grown, which means that I was always going to die this year. And that I am planning a dinosaur birthday for a boy who will only have a dad next year. But that I have hope that this will work and that God and good doctors reached into my life and said, It’s okay. You’re okay.
But in any case, I will let you know on Wednesday. And, in the meantime, I have been in Italy eating chips which taste like meat–because that’s their thing–and drinking wine from the Tuscany coast because that’s also their thing. And forging ahead ahead because, hey, you can’t be certain of anything.