What Dr. Luke has to Say About Leukemia

Deng Wei Ming was 75 years old and had developed a cough for two weeks.  His daughter took him to the local hospital for evaluation.  There the doctor did several tests,  one of which came back abnormal.  However, the doctor told Deng Wei Ming's daughter that his abnormal blood test had nothing to do with his cough but was an incidental finding.  The test though did show that Deng Wei Ming had a form of leukemia called Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia or CLL.  The doctor told Deng Wei Ming and his daughter that at this point in time they had nothing to worry about.  In fact he would probably die from other things than this leukemia.  Deng Wei Ming asked the doctor if there was some medicine, which could cure this disease.  The doctor told him no but that there was little probability that he would die of this disease during the remainder of his lifetime as the disease was so slow in causing illness.

Pei Fang Ping was a 45-year-old man who was in the peak of health. Everyday he exercised 30 minutes a day by running.  One day he developed fatigue and a slight fever.  The next day he felt really bad so his wife took him to the local hospital.  There some blood tests revealed what the doctor called an aggressive and advanced form of leukemia.  The doctor said he needed immediate treatment at the provincial city hospital and he should leave immediately to be able to survive.  The next day on the way to the provincial hospital his fever worsened and he also developed a cough.  The next day his condition worsened and he died from overwhelming pneumonia.  The doctor told his wife that Pei Fang Ping had an aggressive form of leukemia called Acute Myelocytic Leukemia or AML.  The doctor said that often people who get this type of leukemia die in several days after onset of symptoms from this type of leukemia.

Yang Jia Qiong was a 10-year-old boy who had felt fine until several weeks ago.  He increasingly was weak and had developed a cold.  His mother decided to take him to the hospital to see if he could be evaluated for his weakness and his cold.  While there the doctor did some blood tests and discovered that he had some abnormalities in some of his blood tests.  The doctor told Yang Jia Qiong's mother that he probably had a form of leukemia called Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia or ALL.  The doctor told them that this form was much more common in children.  However, the good news is that this should be able to be healed with treatment.

All three of these people had leukemia.  But all three of these diseases acted very differently in these patients.  What is leukemia?  How does it occur?  Why did it act so differently in each of these patients?  First, leukemia is a form of cancer which occurs in the blood.  Second, as can be readily seen, leukemia is a disease that can affect people of most all ages.  Thirdly, as also was seen from these patients, leukemia is a disease, which can cause different symptoms in different patients.  It can also affect different patients differently.

Let us talk about what is leukemia?  Patients who have some of their blood cells not work properly cause leukemia. Why does this happen?  There are many different reasons.  However, the main reason is that these cells which stop working well are called white blood cells.  These white blood cells are in every person's bodies and in the blood.  White blood cells primary reason for existing in the body is to protect us from infection.  Thus when they do not work well a person's ability to fight infection is affected.  People with leukemia have white blood cells, which do not protect well against infection.

What causes leukemia?  There are many different reasons but some are toxins and chemicals from the environment and workplace, genetic factors, some medicines, too much radiation and some other much more rare factors.  In the case of people like Deng Wei Ming it is in some way related to growing older.  In many cases there are not yet adequate explanations for the cause of certain leukemias.

All of these people though also have one thing in common.  Their lives have been forever altered on this earth as a result of acquiring leukemia.  All of these people and their families must have a lot of questions and concerns about the results of leukemia.  It will cost them more money, more doctor visits and more suffering.  Are their good answers to these questions?  Yes there are.  The Bible has many good answers to these questions.  Particularly that of suffering.  The Bible was written over many thousands of years to the world.  It is God's letter to mankind about how he wants them to live and act.  Also how to get to know him.  God is not a God who is far off and we cannot know.  He is a God who is close to us that we can know.

The Bible is composed of many different books.  In a book written by Dr. Luke himself, Dr. Luke has a lot to say about God.  This book was written about 70AD or so.  This book is called the book of Acts or the acts of the early church.  Here is what Dr. Luke said.  'The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands.  And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else.  From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.  God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.  For in him we live and move and have our being.  As some of our own poets have said, We are his offspring (Acts 17.24-28).'

What a challenging passage from Dr. Luke.  It says several things. First, God created the world, its times and nations.  Second, God did all of this so that man would seek God.  He is not far from us and in him we 'live and move and have our being.'  In fact 'we are his offspring.'  We are 'God's offspring.'  What an important statement and what a hope.  We are literally 'God's offspring.'  He made us for his purposes and he has given us earth and times to live in.  This is a great hope for all of mankind.

The question though is how did mankind respond to this gift of life and time and to the fact they were God's offspring?  Dr. Luke goes onto address this very issue.  He says, 'Therefore since we are God's offspring, we should not thing that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone-an image made by man's design and skill.  In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed.  He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead (Acts 17.29-31).'

Since we are God's offspring and are flesh and blood we should not think that God is an image we have made with our own hands.  If we do that we have reversed the order and God is the created one and we are the creator's.  The reverse is actually what happened, that is God created us and we are the created ones.  Dr. Luke goes on to say thought that God overlooked such ignorance in the past, but now he is not overlooking such ignorance.  He is not only asking but also commanding people everywhere to repent.  What does repent mean?  It means to turn away from the direction we are going, that is away from God and return to God.  Then God says through Dr. Luke that he has set a day in the future when we will judge the world with justice.  This judging will be by the man he has appointed.  Who is this appointed judge?  He says this man's proof of being the judge is that God raised him from the dead.  This man is Jesus Christ.  He will be the judge.

Before we talk any more about Jesus Christ. Let us go back and finish our discussion on leukemia.  How is leukemia treated?  Each leukemia is treated differently, but almost all are treated with medications.  These medications are different for each type of leukemia.  Plus the doses, side effects and length of treatment are different for each type of leukemia.

For example, people like Deng Wei Ming, who are older, may have a few or even just one simple medicine they take once a day for the rest of their life.  This medicine has few side effects and works very well.  Then people like Pei Fang Ping with a very aggressive leukemia must have treatment with very high doses of medicine to try and help them and this treatment must be immediate.  This treatment can have a lot of side effects, but without it they will likely die.  Thus each treatment of leukemia depends on the age of the patient and the type of leukemia that they have.

Fortunately, for young people like Yang Jia Qiong, they can be cured of their disease.  This is very good news.  As well, very old people like Deng Wei Ming, they might not die from their leukemia because it advances very slowly.

There are other issues, which these patients need to have met such as blood transfusions and medication side effects.  These can be substantial and people need comfort from these effects both physically and emotionally when they arise.  Then some children are not cured from their leukemia and die.  This is a very sad moment for these children and their families.

Earlier we talked about how we can know God.  We can but only if we follow his way and return to him.  We cannot follow God if we go our own way.  Also if we go our own way we cannot find comfort.  The same would be true of a patient with leukemia who chose to go their own way and not follow the doctor's orders.  They probably would not do too well.  The Bible in the passage written by Dr. Luke states that all of us have followed our way in ignorance.  It is stated in another way in a passage written by a man named Paul to the people in Rome around 65AD.  He and Dr. Luke were co-workers.  He said this, 'For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3.23).'  Everyone has sinned and we do not follow God.  We all go our own way. Later in the same book he states, 'For the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 6.23).'  The payment for our sins is death, but God has given us a free gift through Jesus Christ and that is eternal life starting from the moment we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior for our sins.

Paul continues this discussion when he say, 'You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.  Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die.  But God demonstrated his own live for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5.6-8).'  While we were powerless, while we were walking the opposite direction away from God in ignorance, Jesus Christ died for us.  Who would do that for someone else?  Jesus Christ did that for you and me.  In place of us so that we would not have to bear the penalty of death Jesus Christ died for us. Jesus became the very justice Dr. Luke talked about earlier.  He died in our place for what we did wrong.  In place of our death he gave us new life.  New life which is eternal life.

You may ask how you can come to know Jesus Christ so that you too may have this eternal life?  There is a way and it is very easy.  It costs no money, no work, it is totally free.  Paul in the book to Rome tells us how to do this.  He says, 'If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead you will be saved.  For it is with the heart that you believe and are justified and it is with the mouth that you confess and are saved (Romans 10.9-10).' 

If we confess that Jesus Christ is the Lord of the universe, that he created us and sustains our life and died on the Cross for our sins and believe in our heart that God raised him from the dead then we will be saved from our sins for all eternity.

Here is a short prayer you can pray.  'Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner and have disobeyed you.  I confess my sin to you.  I believe that you died on the Cross-for me and are thus the Lord of the universe.  I believe that after you died, you were buried and later rose from the dead to show your victory over sin and death.'  If you have prayed this prayer and believe it then congratulations you are a child of God forever.