I have cancer. I wrestled with chemotherapy for six months then stopped treatment to gather my health. I mention this to tell a story that is related to my cancer. To keep my veins from collapsing during my treatment, a doctor placed a PowerPort on a large blood vessel just under my skin to allow treatment through the port. The surgery takes about 20 minutes. Before they put me under, the doctor asked if I minded if they prayed for me. Without hesitation I said that I didn't mind. After that, he and his surgical team held hands around my bed and said a prayer for my health and for sure hands; I thought about joining them on that last one.
Yes, it occurred to me to say I minded very much, but I quickly decided that it wasn't the time to make a point. The surgery was a success and now I have a lump in my chest near the top of my left pectoral muscle where I can take chemotherapy, be rehydrated and even take a transfusion if ever necessary. That would not be the last time a prayer posse performed the health circle, after all my surgeon and my oncologist both worked at the Plano Presbyterian Hospital. During that time friends and family said they pray for me and again, I did not object.
My passive reaction to their prayer doesn't mean I found God during my travails, instead it meant practicality was my main concern. My family is full of Baptists and Catholics and everyone of them know I am an atheist. At the time, I chose not to read anything into their best wishes even though I suspect at least one or two of the prayers had an extra barb in it for me. I chose to believe friends and family cared about me and did what they are accustomed to doing when a loved one is sick. Besides, preparation for chemotherapy may not be the best time to piss off everyone.
Of course, I thanked them all and told them I appreciated them keeping me in their thoughts. I didn't want to hurt any feelings for something that made them feel as if they did something to help. After a couple of days the prayer parade stopped and I went home to fight the cancer by myself. Although I was glad to receive the love of family and friends, not for one nanosecond did I believe any of their prayers would help.
To add a little spice to the story I should mention I had major back surgery two days before the cancer diagnosis. My homosexual surgeon fused two vertebrae and installed a bunch of screws and rods to fix my back. The cancer was discovered in one of the pre-surgery x-rays they did before in preparation before the five hour operation. The day after my back surgery they rolled me down to another room and took a biopsy. Three hours later I had cancer as the test came back positive.
My sons and grandsons were in the room when I came back from surgery and they were there when the doctor gave the test results. That was the traditional time to pray, but my immediate family knows I would have asked them not to waste their breath and they didn't. Instead, they all wanted to know what action we would take next. The mood in the room went from concern for Pop directly into the ass-kicking mode. They were brewing for a fight and they expected me to rally the troops--I did.
I came home from the hospital on my walker the "Red Dragon" and enough prayers to steam the windows. For years I've considered prayers little more than fervent wishes and nothing more. I believe prayer does more for the giver than the receiver and is little more than a form of meditation that helps soothe some people's nerves. On the other hand, a. Christian friend from work volunteered to cut my lawn and pick up my mail, something that really helped.
My cancer diagnosis of non-nodular lymphoma came on May 26. Three weeks later I started chemotherapy and life would never be the same. During my time at home, I received several emails seeking prayers for the President; by then, I stood knee-deep in pain and had my fighting trunks on for a 15-round battle royal. The bits were barely dry on the email when fired back a suggestion of donating blood for the troops and they really wanted to help the President get off their knees with their eyes and ears open. That is real help!
As a musician I summed up my thoughts on help by announcing after a tune that drew applause by announcing, "Don't clap--throw money!" or to put it like the lyrics of an Aretha Franklin song, "Giving him something he can feel." I think that hits the nail on the head and the spot at the same time.