As I groggily came to in the recovery room, I was surprised that my wife Molly had been permitted to come back there.
She was glowing, beaming with excitement, “Hi, honey. Great news: both tumors were benign, there’s no cancer, and you still have your thyroid. It’s a miracle!”Recovery from general anesthesia is always a semi-surreal experience, and this had been a four-hour surgery; I had to really focus to process what I had just heard. “It’s a miracle!”
In pre-op, the last thing we had spoken about before I went under was the fact that they would remove my thyroid even if we received the miracle we had been asking, praying and believing for (the whole, supernatural story is found in a previous blog post on www.nameonline.org entitled “Dr. Leo’s Cancer Surgery”), a cancer-free report. We expected they would remove the cancer and get it all, even though the pre-surgery diagnosis had called it malignant and showed it already metastasized away from the thyroid.
The surgeon, Dr. Peter Kaiser, really couldn’t explain it all (he came out and told Molly, my daughter Emily, our assistant Cherie and Pastor Saeed but I was still out); they did a frozen dissection of both tumors and could not find any cancer. Two other doctors examined the tissue to sign off on the surgical pathology report; it was so extraordinary.
“I don’t know how but it appears that a piece of his thyroid had broken away and moved up and grew in the side of his neck. It’s very unusual,” the surgeon told them.
“That’s my husband,” Molly gleefully cheered. “He’s a pretty unusual guy.”
God had done more, exceedingly and abundantly more, above what we could ask or think. I had just talked to several people that week who had had their entire thyroid removed, even with benign tumors, and had been on thyroid medications for years. It’s normal when a tumor has metastasized away from the thyroid to do a complete thyroidectomy as a precaution to future tumors. Before my surgery, an ultrasound, a high contrast CT scan, a V-neck cross section ultrasound, blood work, TSH levels and a fine needle aspiration biopsy had all indicated follicular cancer. And now there was no cancer to be found anywhere; they even removed some lymph glands and checked them, too. God is sooo good!
Slipping in and out of consciousness in the recovery room, I was amazed when the nurse said, “Let’s see if you can sit up. I’m having them pull the car around and we’ll wheel you to it.”
I thought, “What?!”
But I didn’t say a thing, still caught up in the miracle.
I was going home in less than two hours after waking up from a four hour surgery. As I stumbled into the mini-van, it hit me: when I first learned of the surgery I privately admitted to a few close friends that I was believing that they were going to get all the cancer and that somehow I would get to keep my thyroid. I didn’t want to feel depleted at a major conference in Lima, Peru at the beginning of September and then have to face radiation the weekend before our15th International Marriage Conference .
Contrary to doctor’s advice, I wanted to try to not use the prescribed painkillers and anti-nausea medicines.
Four days post-op, we went back to the surgeon’s office for him to remove the drainage tube from my neck. The first thing I did was I thanked him profusely for determining to preserve my thyroid; I would whole-heartedly recommend Dr. Kaiser as the otolaryncologist of choice. We researched him when choosing him, and the only negative we found anywhere was one person who complained about his lack of bedside manner. Yes, he’s not extremely talkative but very efficient and confident—for a surgeon, I prefer someone who is accurate, quick and confident than a conversationalist!
He asked how I was feeling and I told him I had a pain in the neck! He asked if the Vicadin helped and when I told him I took none, he responded, “No wonder you have pain in your neck, we cut muscle, removed two tumors and some lymph nodes.”
The most remarkable part of this visit was when the medical assistant placed the Surgical Pathology Report in my hand:The Pre-Operative Diagnosis described the “left-sided neck mass” as “Metastatic follicular thyroid cancer” and the right side lump as a thyroid nodule. The Post-Operative Diagnosis: Ectopic benign thyroid tissue; previous fine needle aspirate with features consistent with follicular lesion; lymph node-left lateral neck: negative for malignancy; lymph node-superior left neck: negative for malignancy; frozen section, no carcinoma.
It’s a miracle!
Oh, we had celebrated and thanked God for the miracle since the recovery room on Friday, but now we had the documented evidence to share with the world.“How great is the goodness you have stored up for those who fear you. You lavish it on those who come to you for protection, blessing them before the watching world.” Psalm 31:19 NLT I wanted to be careful about how we expressed this extraordinary miracle so that nothing would take from the glory of God. Back in Austria in June when a group of pastors and their wives had prayed for us, Connie Scott, the wife of Allistair Scott, pastor of Warriors of Praise in the UK, told Molly that Proverbs 3:22 was the verse for me. When they grabbed a Bible and looked it up, it declared one of the guiding principles for us through this process: “keep sound wisdom and discretion before you, they shall be life to your soul and grace to your neck.”
Now, it’s documented so sound wisdom allows us to declare it—an extraordinary miracle!
Acts chapter 19 says that “extraordinary miracles were performed.” I once heard a preacher say that the greatest miracle is your own; now this has new and personal meaning for me. Indeed this was an extraordinary miracle, but it was not the greatest miracle I have experienced—that was when I realized that God loved me so much when I was so undeserving that he sacrificed His only Son so that I could live free from the fear of death and be assured of an eternal destiny with Him. Now that’s a miracle! And you can have that miracle very quickly (if you haven’t call or write us).
If indeed extraordinary miracles occur around us, the implication is that ordinary miracles exist apart from extra-ordinary miracles. I want to be ever more aware and thankful for the everyday ordinary miracles, and they are many.
Today, while I am so very thankful to God for my extraordinary miracle, my heart is heavy with compassion for those who have not yet received (or perhaps understood) their miracle. I want to be so moved by compassion that I will pray the prayer of faith over others with greater compassion and faith than ever before. My heart goes out to others who, for whatever reason, continue on a painful journey or face imminent death; may the God of all comfort comfort them by His Spirit, surpassing understanding, in Jesus’ name!
I am more excited about the future than ever before…and I am excited about the fulfillment of the rest of the word given over us. It was said that as we overcome this that there would be an increase in strength and anointing. I look forward to both with great anticipation knowing that I must do my part to protect my health and not hinder the anointing. It was also said that there would be a gathering together of those who would come alongside and work together for the vision for marriage revival we have. We are watching, waiting, working and we welcome you. Thanks be to God!
And we hope to see you at the Intenational Marriage Conference: click here for more info!