Damocles’ Sword

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I’m not Damocles. But sometimes that’s how I feel with a sword hanging above my head that can fall anytime.

I don’t have a good family medical history. My father died of a brain tumor at the age of 50. My mom had colorectal cancer which we thought we were able to defeat, but it came back with a vengeance and metastasized to her lungs and bones that eventually caused her demise. Both of my grandfathers from my father’s and mother’s side, I never had the chance to meet since they died before I was born. That’s the kind of genes I was handed with. There’s nothing I can do.

Or maybe there is something I can do. Besides trying to live a healthy lifestyle, I do the regular medical check-ups and cancer screening. Because of my family history, I was advised by my friend who is a gastroenterologist to have an early screening colonoscopy. So I got my first colonoscopy several years before I even hit 50 years old. The last one I had 3 years ago they found a precancerous polyp that they removed, and so they wanted me to have another colonoscopy this year.

During my last visit to my doctor a few days ago, I had another abnormal result in my cancer screening test. Being a physician myself, I know the implication of an abnormally high score in that particular blood test. Unlike a test in school or in a licensing board exam where you want to get a high score, in cancer screening test you want to have a low score or even get a zero. But that’s not what I got. Even though it is just a screening test and not a confirmatory one, I don’t like the odds based on my score.

I am being referred to another doctor, a specialist in this field, and most likely will undergo a number of other testing, which probably will include an invasive one. I cannot avoid this feeling of uncertainty and I have these different scenarios of “what ifs” that have crossed my mind.

Maybe I know too much. Maybe being aggressive in this cancer screening is not the right approach. Maybe if I don’t know and don’t care to know, then I would not worry. As they say, ignorance is bliss.

My appointment with the specialist is not until more than a week from now. The tests will be following after that I suppose. But I cannot shake off this thought. I tried to shove it back into the recesses of my mind, but it keeps on creeping into my consciousness.

I remember when my wife had to undergo a series of testing a few years back, including a bone marrow biopsy to rule out leukemia, my mind went into overdrive. And all for nought for everything came back okay. I guess being in the medical field and seeing bad medical outcome every single day make you hyper-vigilant.

I was driving to work this morning and I was in deep thoughts about my “imagined” illness when I almost missed my exit on the highway. Suddenly I came into my senses. Suddenly I came to the realization of what God was trying to tell me too.

If I will dwell into the unknown, then I will miss on the here and now. Just like I almost miss my exit. I should have paid more attention to the glorious sunrise this morning. I should have been more appreciative of this relative warm day which is a break from the super frigid days we are experiencing in the past couple of weeks. I should pay more attention to the exorbitant love and care that my wife is giving me. I should put more awareness on my children and how they are successfully thriving in life. And so much more of the beautiful things that is happening in the here and now.

And if I have to face a challenging medical condition, so be it. I just have to trust God whom I know will take care of me. Let the challenges be another opportunity for me to witness His goodness and His mercy.

Let the harsh cold wind blow. I’ll be alright.


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