God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. ~ 1Corinthians 10:13, NIV
Unlike surgery or pediatrics, oncology is a practice where a complete cure is rare. Even in an era of rapid progress for cancer therapy, the miracle of medicine is not usually the answer for most of my patients. As you can imagine, I am in a medical discipline where the doctor doesn’t always have the solution; yet everyday I witness amazing strength and faith in my patients.
These patients have already struggled to try to accept their dreadful diagnosis of “cancer”, and they hope that I can cure them. But, instead, I must tell them that if the treatment is not successful, then death is the consequence.
As I prepare treatment plans for my patients, I realize, invariably, that I can only provide limited solutions and comfort for them. How can I ever truly comfort my desperate patients? In contrast to my expectation of looking for a sense of hopelessness in their eyes when I inform them of bad news, many have no fear or worry on their faces. “That is truly amazing,” I contemplate in my heart. And yet, the answer is soon forthcoming; they lack fear because of their faith in our God.
It is easy to praise our God when things are going well in our life, and a church gathering can be like a weekend party. This is not the scenario in the cancer wards. Yet, God’s words are powerful; and they are tested again and again without failure under such circumstances.
Just like one dear psychiatrist friend used to tell me, antidepressants cannot cure depression. They may protect you from “falling down” too much, but they will not bring happiness and joy. Only God brings true peace and happiness and rebuilds our souls.
I am fortunate to work with many of my patients who are “bearing” cancer. Their strength, a reflection of the grace that comes from our Father, carries me and brings hope to my personal life. I tell my patients, “You are my teachers,” and, “Thank you for allowing me to work with you!”
–CS Chen is professor in LLUSM department of medicine and is head of the division of hematology and oncology. He received a PhD degree in mole oncology from University of Minnesota in 1992 and a medical degree from China Medical College in Taichung, Taiwan, in 1985.