By: Michael Hsu
On January 12, 2004, my life changed forever. But in order to tell how my life changed, I must start back in the early years of my life, when I was still in elementary school.
I always wondered: What am I going to do with my life? What happens when my life ends? Is there a God? I had heard about God, but I never saw the point of going to church, worshiping someone who I thought never existed.
Sometimes when my family and I gathered at a friend's house for a feast, the adults would shut their eyes, tilt their heads, and thank Jesus Christ for the wonderful dinner that was presented in front of us. I was a child and I thought it was strange and somewhat funny. I had always had those thoughts until one day I became dreadfully ill.
Here is how it happened. It started during my freshman year of high school, second quarter, in English class. I was in the middle of testing, and as I proceeded to one of the questions, I became lightheaded. I read the question over and over, but as I did, it became more and more confusing. I asked the teacher if I could leave to get a drink of water, and so she let me go. I thought that maybe I was thinking too hard and I needed to refresh myself, but as I sat back down in my chair and read the same question, I still could not comprehend it.
I began to panic. I asked myself, 'What in the world is going on?!' I stood up and told my teacher, Mrs. Watson, that I was not feeling well. She knew I was telling the truth because I was an honest student of hers. She was also kind enough to assist me down the hall to the health room. As we walked, I suddenly began to get dizzy, and I believe she asked me if I was OK, but I could not identify with her words.
All I said was, "Uhh -- I don't know." I then felt myself blacking in and out, having abrupt spasmodic movements, and I then lost memory from that point on. I don't know if I walked myself to the health room or if I lost consciousness in the middle of the hallway, but the next thing I remember was waking up to see three or four teachers looking down at me. I was lying on the floor in the health room, and the first thing I noticed about myself was that I was very tired and dizzy.
Sometime later two emergency ambulance paramedics came into the room and set me up on an emergency bed, and pushed me into the ambulance. I could not believe it! I could not believe that I would ever have to go to the hospital. I never thought that I would ever have to ride in an ambulance!
On the way to the hospital, the paramedics gave me an IV and asked me simple questions like 'Where do you live?' 'How old are you?' I could not answer any of them. We arrived at the hospital and one of the school counselors, Mrs. Coe, stayed with me inside a waiting room. I began to recollect my thoughts and had a conversation with the counselor. As we talked, I was relieved to see my dad come in, and the counselor left me with him. I told him what had happened. He closed the door so we could speak in private, but as he did, I suddenly began to feel light headed again, so I told my dad to open the door. He asked why, and I said I was going to have another seizure -- I could feel it coming.
I was sent to receive an MRI scan of my brain. When I awoke, I saw both of my parents standing over me in a hospital bed, and then the doctor came in. He told my parents and I that I had developed a tumor on the left side of my brain. I was speechless; I couldn't believe it! Me, have a brain tumor?! Impossible! He also said that I had to have surgery done in the next few days! I was absolutely speechless. I couldn't understand; I was a perfectly healthy, normal person. How could this happen to me, out of all people?!
The few days prior to my scheduled surgery, my grandfather came to see how I was doing. He told me that Jesus would always look after me. When I was told this, I believed him. For the first time in my life, I believed in God.
I had my surgery. When I awoke, I felt an intense pain in my head. My throat felt dry, and I had absolutely no energy. I felt so much excruciating pain that I just wanted to sleep, but that was impossible because of all the beeping noises, the complaints of other patients, the constant injections of medicine through the IV's ... the tubes running through my body.
So during those three or four days while I was at the hospital, I prayed, and thought about God every single minute. I realized I needed not only the help of the doctor's, but I also needed the help of God.
After my surgery I had radiation and chemotherapy every day, except on weekends, for six weeks. During that time I was feeling much better. I went to the hospital everyday at 3:30 p.m. to receive radiation, and while waiting for my therapy, I met many other cancer patients. We talked about our experiences in the past and present relating to cancer. Some of them had gone through a real tough time. One man developed a tumor around his neck. He had to go through a torturing process of the removal of all his teeth while not receiving any care for his tumor. The process took six months, and during those six months his tumor grew almost twice its original size. I could not imagine how painful it must have been for him. Every time I went to sleep I prayed for him to get better. Learning about other people's painful experiences made me feel very blessed, and I thank God for keeping me from suffering.
Ever since this experience I've gone to church every Sunday, and I've learned that since the day I was born, I was a sinner. I was terrified being called a sinner, but I also learned that if I were to be baptized and I wanted to truly be a child of God, I would need to be spiritually reborn (born again) -- be free of eternal punishment for my sins -- and empowered to stop sinning in the future.
I learned that God loves everyone, but He hates the sin we commit against Him and others, and if you don't accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, you are to be banished in Hell. Christ died for all our sins on the cross, resurrected for us, and we should always love Him and our proof of doing so to Him is that we obey His commandments.
As stated in I Peter 2:24:
He himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so we might die to sins and live for righteousness, for by His wounds you have been healed.
Now my lifestyle has changed. I pray to God when I go to sleep, when I wake up, whenever I'm feeling low, and I pray for others. I now read passages and stories from the bible every day so I can learn how be a better person and improve my spiritual and human life.
Sometimes I look back at the time I developed cancer and I feel so blessed because if I had never developed this complication, I probably would have never gone to church to receive or learn about God. I know that Jesus helped me get through my disease more easily because I had talked to other cancer patients, and they had gone through a much tougher time than I.
One day at the hospital I asked the doctor, "What was the cause of my tumor growth?" All he had to say was, "I don't know; it was random."
But I think I know why. I have always wanted to become a doctor, so Jesus had given this disease to me (*Staff Note: Please see footnote at bottom regarding this statement), so I could experience what it's like being a doctor and a patient. I don't know if I'll become a doctor, but I do know that Jesus has set a path for me.
This experience, which I have gone through, has changed my life incredibly, and I trust that somehow by reading my experience, your life will also be changed. If you do not go to church or worship God, I beseech you to do so, because you can find strength, wisdom, love, eternal life, and happiness within God. I did, and that's how I made it through my medical obstacles.
My Second Fight: PATIENCE (Part 2)
We face difficulties and challenges everyday in our life. These obstacles can range from cleaning the house to fighting a life-long illness. We must learn to cope with these problems through patience and understanding, realizing that life is not easy. We must realize that God is always with us at all times, guiding us to His purpose. He has a reason for everything, but sometimes, tragedies occur, and we wonder how God could let this happen. We may know why, but many times -- it is beyond our understanding.
He has set a prepared path for us even before we were born. As said in Romans 8: 28:
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
Through your troubles, you begin to learn and understand that peace can always be reached through the love of God.
Upon being diagnosed with a brain tumor that first time and treated, I thought that after surgery and some radiation and chemotherapy, everything would be fine, and I would go back to normal.
Well, it turned out that the cancer did not go away within a year. It will probably take five years, a decade, or even a lifetime. Through the whole experience of cancer, I realize that this fight is going to take a lot of strength, endurance and tolerance. Patience is of very great importance. When you have a cold, you take some medicine and it goes away within a week or two usually. However, with cancer, it is complicated to handle the difficulties, so you must look up to something -- someone that you can find peace and love in. Wouldn't our Creator be the most logical choice?
Once I learned that my cancer had come back a second time, I looked immediately to God. The doctor said that I would need another surgery and more radiation therapy. I went to a quiet spot and cried to God. Why? Why? Why?
After some alone time, I thought to myself: I'll be OK; God is looking over me, and He's telling me, 'Be patient, for there is a reason for everything I do.' I grasped this thought and held on to it. I let God know how I was feeling, and expressing my thoughts to Him, which helped ease my pain.
After the surgery, my neurosurgeon, Dr. Weingart, said to my parents while I was in the ICU, "The surgery went well, but now the fate of Michael's recovery is in the hands of his own immune system and the Lord."
When I awoke, to my surprise, I did not feel as much pain as I had anticipated. I recovered within two days and went home on the third day, after my surgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital. I thank God for giving me a strong body to fight this disease. Everyday in my life, I will thank God in my prayers for the miracles He has performed for me. I will, for every opportunity I have, share my experiences with others so that they can see that the Lord can do great wonders. My faith in Jesus Christ had skyrocketed to unbelievable heights, and I believe that He has even more in store for me. Every time I think about what I've gone through, I thank the Lord.
I've learned that there is a set path and a reason for everything. Therefore you should not worry because God is with us. If we have troubles just speak and pray to Him, and your difficulties will be eased. A wonderful verse to recite when you feel troubled is Philippians 4:6:
'Be anxious for nothing, but everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.'
To help ease my thoughts and emotions, I meditated on Psalms 23 over and over, "The Lord is my Shepherd... " The verses in Psalms made me realize that God is with me, standing next to me, protecting me, and guiding me. He will guide me "through the valley of the shadow of death." His "rod and staff, they comfort me. He makes me lie down in green pastures "and" He leads me beside the still waters." He leads me to righteousness and so that I can "dwell in the house of the Lord, forever."
When you feel depressed, pained, or discouraged, look to God. God is not far away; God is everywhere. Share all your troubles and thoughts with Him, and He will take care of you. So in conclusion, be patient, do not be anxious, for the Lord has a purpose and reason for everything that He does!
Thank the Lord!
Patrick Hsu can be emailed at: firstname.lastname@example.org