What happens in childhood …

“Mommy, can I see?”
“Sure, take a look.”
“Ewwww, that’s disgusting! I can’t even look at you.” She turned away.
“It is kind of icky, isn’t it?”
“Eww, let me see again. Oh my gosh, that’s so gross.”

It was the first time I was taking off the dressing from the surgery I recently had on my forehead. A patch of basal and squamous cell cancer had been removed and the impacted area ran in a straight line from the top of my forehead to just above my left eye. My left eye had begun swelling and a bruise was forming.

Looking at the ridge that had been sewn into my forehead made it hard to believe that one day it wouldn’t look like that anymore. But, here it is a month later and I am surprised to see how much better that area looks. The wound is still not completely healed, but I now believe that I won’t look Frankensteiny forever. Unfortunately, I have to go back in a couple of weeks and go through it again.

It all began a couple of years ago when a bump, seemingly out of nowhere, appeared on my forehead. It was a bump that never grew, never changed and never went away. I finally one day remembered to ask my primary care physician about it. “Well, it’s not cancer.” When visiting my nephrologist, I also asked what he thought, and got the same “it’s not cancer” answer. Neither of them, that I can remember, suggested for me to do anything about it.

I changed to a new primary care doctor who referred me to a dermatologist where I was told I had an AK — basically pre-cancerous cells. I had the bump frozen four times. The bump would almost go away completely, but then the most minor of touches to that area would cause bleeding. I knew something other than freezing it had to happen, but I never did meet the M.D. at that place.

I put off doing anything about it, but, this summer, when the area wouldn’t stop bleeding, I finally made an appointment at another place. I met with an M.D. who told me it wouldn’t go away because it was not an AK, but cancer. I wasn’t terribly surprised but it’s never nice to hear.

Right before the surgery to have it removed, I asked one of the assistants how this happens—one day my forehead was clear and then a bump appeared that never went away. He said that in almost all cases of this kind of cancer, the damage happened in our younger days—as far back as early childhood. Then one day, the cells mutate and the damage makes itself known.

As I was listening to his explanation, I was fascinated by the parallel to how so many of us tend to walk through life. Something happens in childhood and we don’t see the damage. But what happens in childhood, doesn’t necessarily stay in childhood. So one day in adulthood, something shows up. We ignore it. We finally remember to mention it to someone. We’re told it’s no big deal. We know it probably needs some kind of attention, but where do we go to figure out what it is and what to do with it?

We try things to make it go away. Some drink, some do drugs, some work way too much, some try being perfect, some become control freaks, some sleep around. We get advice. We go to counseling. We might even try church. But that thing, whatever it is, never quite goes away. Then one day, probably out of desperation, we seek out the Doctor.

He looks at it and says, “It’s not going away because you’re not dealing with the real problem. You’ve let this damage control your life for far too long, why don’t you let Me take care of it for you? I am going to have to cut it out. You can leave it there if you want, but it’s just going to get worse. The decision is yours.”

Having been through several different kinds of surgery, I can say it’s not going through the surgery that’s all that bad (unless the anesthesia wears off), but the healing process after the fact. Healing is usually the most painful part. Sometimes, the pain can make you wonder why you bothered having surgery to begin with. But when the work is done right, eventually the pain subsides, strength returns and you feel better than you ever thought you would.

Have you got a “bump” that just won’t go away? I encourage you to take  whatever it is to the Doctor. I’m not talking about going to church, being religious and marking off a bunch of to-dos. Meet with Jesus and let Him guide you through what needs to be done. The price of the pain of healing is worth being set free and gaining a new life.

So if the Son sets you free, you will indeed be free. John 8:36

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