In 2012, I had a dream. I was at my parent’s house with my dad. I think my dad was an image for my Heavenly Father. We went into the bathroom and opened up the towel closet. Inside was a framework of exposed PVC pipes. Wrapped all around the pipes was a huge snake. We stepped out of the bathroom and the huge snake slithered out of the pipes and left while we stood by and watched.
Later that summer two things happened to my body. I got a very ugly looking mole on my back and I found a very small lump in front of my right ear. I saw a doctor for both of them. The mole my physician was unconcerned about. I had my dermatologist look at it repeatedly for the next several years during my annual checkup. In 2015, my doctor finally became a little concerned about it and decided to remove and biopsy it to see what it was. It came back benign. It’s gone now, except for a small scar just to the left of my right shoulder blade.
I had the lump in my ear checked out in the summer of 2012 by my PA. She said it’s a lymph node and said not to bother it. Over the next two years it started to grow. It was a half-pea sized lump, painless and movable. In 2014 I had my regular physician look at it and he got concerned. He was over 90% sure it was a lymph node but sent me to an ENT doc to make sure. The ENT (ear, nose and throat) doc said it wasn’t a lymph node, but was my superficial temporal artery bulging out. I never really had comfort over that explanation.
I saw a different ENT a month ago for my allergies. I had him check the lump just to get a second opinion. He said, no, I don’t think it’s an artery. I think it’s either a lymph node or a benign parotid tumor. Either way, he wouldn’t do surgery because to get to it he would have to go in through my neck, up across my cheek to access it because he would not want to damage by facial nerve which overlaps the area and make me paralyzed in my face. He said if it was a lymph node, no big deal. And if it was a parotid tumor, it was a benign and wasn’t a threat. He even said he had a lump in front of his ear too.
So I started doing some research after that. I never knew what the name of this thing could be before then if it was a tumor, now I could Google it and see what I got. I wasn’t concerned with the lymph node part of it, the parotid tumor possibility concerned me. From the literature I could access, here were the numbers I found:
- 75% of all parotid tumors are benign, while 25% are malignant
- Of the benign parotid tumors, ~80% are classified as a plemorphic adenoma, which is a mixed tissue type tumor. 15% are called Warthin’s tumor and the rest are very rare.
- Plemorphic adenomas are generally fine. 91% of all plemorphic adenomas are benign for the rest of a person’s lifetime. But, 9% of the time they can change and turn malignant. This usually happens after 15-20 years of the tumor being present and not having grown.
- The Warthin’s tumor and other types are very rare and do not go malignant.
- Benign tumors grow very slowly and will stop growing for an extended period of time (a decade or longer)
- Most recommended treatments of benign parotid tumors are surgical removal
This lump hadn’t grown in over 2 years, since 2014. The ENT I saw last month was good, but I wasn’t convinced. Why would my ENT doc say if it was a parotid tumor he wouldn’t operate to remove it? Especially when most of the literature I could find on it said the contrary?
I talked about it with my wife on our getaway trip from the other weekend. I have struggled for years with fear, literally paralyzing fear, of the doctor’s office. Fear if having something wrong with me. God has been calling me on that one lately. He wants me to grow up. I ran those numbers by my helper and she was very receptive. She asked if I wanted to get another opinion. I said yes, this time I wanted to find someone who had extensive experience in ear, nose and throat surgery, had been published well, and had been in practice for a very long time. I wanted to find the proverbial wise old man to consult on this. I searched through the listings in my city (a pretty big city btw; I mean, it’s not Tokyo big or anything 😉 but it’s a big city) and I kept hearing God say, I will work through whoever you choose. After getting turned down from several ENTs for not having a referral, I found him.
He was the chair of surgery at a major hospital in our city for a number of years. He had been extensively published. He had been in practice for a long, long time. He was just the person I wanted to see. I saw him today.
I knew today was a test.
He was actually really impressed that I even found it myself. He said that is a reactive lymph node. Bad things grow, they get bigger. This hasn’t grown in over two years. There’s a chain of lymph nodes right where this thing is at. It’s not a parotid tumor. He said even benign parotid tumors will grow, they will double or triple in size over a year. If it gets bigger, come back and we’ll biopsy it. But it’s a lymph node.
I’ve struggled for years with anxiety with the doctor, with my health. I feel like I failed the test when I saw the first ENT last month. My blood pressure was through the roof, my heart beating a million miles a second. I remember sitting in the exam chair waiting for the doctor to come in and trying so hard to focus on God and I couldn’t, wouldn’t. I failed the test.
Today, I came in with resolve to pass the test. I was going to face the fear of my flesh. I was going to beat it down into submission and worship Jesus this time. It was an all out, no holds barred fight with my flesh. I got the wind knocked out of me when I first arrived, I was shaking slightly. I pulled over to the men’s room to just compose myself in Christ before going to check in. I fought back hard. Every time my flesh hit me, and probably Satan too, I hit back hard. I fought tooth and nail to win this fight. I filled out the paperwork and sat down. I closed my eyes and prayed. My heart was still beating hard. I fell back into Jesus’ embrace as his Holy Spirit filled my body, his temple, and I worshiped. I worked hard. Jesus worked harder.
The wait took so much longer than expected and anyone else would have been furious. I waited an hour. I wish I had two hours. But the extra time gave me the opportunity to have more time to finish the test. I was getting close to winning in the waiting room. They called me back. It was the same situation once again. I was sitting in the exam chair waiting for the doc to come in. I was nervous. But this time, I had resolve. I purposely stood up in my soul and said I WILL NOT BE AFRAID. I CHOOSE TO TRUST MY JESUS. I put on my armor and I stood there waiting on my God. Worshiping him. Whatever happened, I was God’s and I was fine and I have eternal life in Jesus Christ. I am fine, no matter what. And for the first time, in my life since I have fought anxiety, have I been in that kind of a situation and had peace. I asked God for healing, I asked to walk out of there and for my doc to say it was a lymph node and all was ok.
I got it.
Post appointment, I still have the lingering questions. What if he was wrong? What if I have a ticking timebomb in my face that will explode when my daughter goes to college in 15 years and I won’t get to see her get married or hold my grandchildren?
Now, I know. That’s incredibly hypocritical of me. For someone who talks and rants about going home to Jesus and our inheritance in him. But if I am truly honest, I want to see this story play out here. I want to see the work get finished. I want to see my children become men and women of God. I want to lead them there. I want to see my wife’s beauty with these eyes for years to come. I want to be with Jesus so badly, so come rapture, come! But I want for us all to go together.
If Jesus calls me home in 15 years, so be it. I could have this thing cut out of me now, but if he really wanted me home in 15 years, it’s going to be something else. There’ll be another tumor somewhere else. There’ll be a car accident. There’ll be something. But if he has given me the wisdom to deal with something now so that it doesn’t become a problem down the road, I want to heed that wisdom.
I don’t know. I don’t have complete peace, but I do have much more peace than I did this morning. What is the truth in my body? What did Satan try to do to me? What magnitude of healing did God do in my body? Did Satan try to give me cancer back then but God stopped it? Was that what those pipes were, was that my DNA that Satan was wrapping around to distort and manipulate? Did God stop him just in time? Were these two things actually Trojan horses to destroy my body, placed by the devil inside me? Did God heal that damage? Or was it nothing all along? Or is it something that will happen? My mom had cancer when she was in her early 30’s. I’m 29. I’ve been on guard about it. My mom was healed though and that was 35 years ago.
Maybe this is where I say to God, I’ve done my best with this situation and from here on out I walk in faith. Even if I was bent on surgery, I don’t think I could find a surgeon willing to do the operation. Let alone give me a CT scan. It’s not even an option. Maybe I’m pushing up against predestination here. Maybe I’m pressing up against some larger process God has ordained throughout the years of my life and no matter what I do, I can’t make a different choice other than just give it to God and have faith. Regardless of whether I pursue more options here, or if I leave it alone, I do place my faith in Jesus alone.
This has been a real struggle for me. I’ve fought anxiety and fear in this realm for years. I’m really not looking to throw a pity party here…I just want to process my war with my flesh in the anxiety battleground. And a big part of it revolves around my health.
God bless you my friends. Hope your Monday is well! And get excited, my American friends, this week is Thanksgiving! Yay! Gobble, gobble!!