Tuesday, June 7, 2011

“What’s Up”

“I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, and for this reason I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers” (Eph. 1:15-16). Sometimes Paul is frustrated with the church. Sometimes he is exasperated with the church. Sometimes he is just plain mad at the church. But not always. When Paul prays for the little church in Ephesus he is filled with gratitude for a congregation that trusts its life to Jesus and, as a result, has an abundance of love for one another. I know what it is to be filled with gratitude for a congregation that trusts its life to Jesus and, so, is marked by love and affection for one another. Three weeks ago, when the doctors confirmed their suspicions and told me that I have multiple myeloma, I was shocked and sad and grateful. The gratitude was, and is, threefold. I found myself realizing how thankful I am for a strong and beautiful family, for a wonderful country in which I am blessed with incredible medical care and for you, for all of you. I thought “I am so grateful that I am the minister at University Hill Congregation. I know how much faith and love there is in our life together. Everything is going to be all right.” Since then you have showered me with affection, concern, prayers and support. I am the recipient of an outpouring of love. This is the odd discovery of being told that you have incurable cancer. Wonderful news accompanies the terrible news. It turns out that the church is not a problem, not an anachronism, not out of touch. It turns out that the church is precious. It turns out that, for those with eyes to see and ears to hear, the kingdom of God is as close as hearing that life will end sooner rather than later. Faced with the news of our mortality we realize that being together today is a gift to be cherished and received with gratitude. “And for this reason I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers.”
Before continuing to pray with Paul let me catch you up on my current medical diagnosis, prognosis and treatment plan. I have been diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a chronic incurable cancer of the plasma cells. It was discovered inadvertently when a I had a prostate biopsy in March that showed no prostate cancer but did reveal sticky proteins called amyloids which can be caused by multiple myeloma. Since the diagnosis was confirmed I have had numerous tests and medical appointments in order to determine the stage of the disease and the best course of treatment. This week I received the good news that I have stage one - early stage - multiple myeloma. This means that no apparent damage has yet been done to my bones or organs. It means that, given my age and good health, the prognosis for the future is of a manageable chronic condition for a number of years. I will have to be cautious about infections and illnesses due to a weakened immune system. I cannot carry heavy objects due to weakened bones. But I can live a relatively normal life and continue to be your minister. Along the way I will receive medical treatments to help to manage the disease. The first of those treatments is expected to be a stem cell transplant in which my own stem cells are harvested before chemotherapy is used to eradicate the myeloma from my body. Then my stem cells are given back to me in order to help my body rebuild its immune system. This procedure will most likely take place in August and will result in a three month period of recovery before returning to work. I should have more certainty about the scheduling of the treatment in three weeks time. During the month of June our Session, Stewards and Ministry and Personnel Committee will be putting a plan in place so that ministry will be provided when I am away receiving medical treatments. All things considered, the news today is good news.

To read the rest follow Ed's Blog at http://www.holyscribbler.blogspot.com/.
Rev Ed Searcy

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