I have cancer

Well, technically it’s cancer. But it’s a pretty weak cancer. It is called MALT Lymphoma. MALT stands for Mucosa-Associated Lymphoid Tissue. I’m not going to attempt to write up a complete description of the disease — there are search engines that will direct you to better descriptions than I could write anyway.

My doctors have assured me that essentially no one dies from this kind of cancer.

Also, it is very rare to have this kind of cancer grow and change into another kind of cancer that actually can kill you. In addition, this kind of cancer is very slow growing and usually stays within the system in which it is found.

Mine was found in the lining of my stomach.

Sometime around May of 2001, I went to see the doctor because of some symptoms which I won’t get into here. That led to the discovery of four ulcers in my stomach which were bleeding.

The problem was an infection of Helicobacter pylori bacteria (usually just called H. pylori). As I understand it, doctors now think that somewhere near 80% of stomach ulcers are actually caused by this infection. I went through a series of antibiotic treatments to kill the H. pylori, along with taking a drug to minimize the generation of stomach acid so that the ulcers could heal. They were all healed up within a few months.

H. pylori is also believed to be a causal factor for MALT lymphoma. Since my gastro doctor knew this, he had me checked regularly throughout the past year. In April of 2002, a biopsy showed the presence of MALT in my stomach lining.

My reaction

I can honestly say that I haven’t been too panicked by this whole thing. I knew from the outset of the diagnosis that this cancer probably wouldn’t be fatal.

I have a strong belief in God which sustains me through difficult struggles. In particular, when things come into my life over which I have little or no control over, I have to trust that God is in control. Scripture
teaches us that God is sovereign over his creation, and that sovereignty must include my life as well.

It isn’t like I have smoked my way into lung cancer or anything like that. I don’t know of any behavior that I could have avoided or participated in that would have made this cancer any less likely. It is easy for me to trust God in these kinds of circumstances. Of course, we’ll see how I feel when I’m going through the chemotherapy treatments! I hope that my faith will remain strong. I’m counting on God’s grace to see me through it all.

I have also had a lot of support from my friends, family, and my local church. I guess most of us react the same way when we hear the word “cancer”. Those around me have been very supportive, even though I am pretty much asymptomatic!