What Dr. Luke Has to Say About Prostate Cancer

Wang Xiao Ping was 65 years old and noticed that over the past several months and especially the past several days he was having more trouble urinating.  He had this trouble for years but it was quite a bit worse over the past several months and weeks.  What was he to do?  He mentioned this to his older brother who advised him to go see the doctor at the local hospital.  He did this the very next day.  The doctor at the hospital examined him and ordered some blood tests.  One of the blood tests, called a PSA came back abnormal.  This blood test was specifically for the prostate.  The doctor told Wang Xiao Ping that his prostate could have cancer in it.  The blood test was for prostate cancer and the fact that it was elevated meant that he could have prostate cancer.  The doctor wanted to do a biopsy of his prostate and asked Wang Xiao Ping if they could do this test the next week.  Wang Xiao Ping agreed to this test and it was scheduled. 

The biopsy results showed that in fact Wang Xiao Ping did have prostate cancer.  Wang Xiao Ping wondered what this meant?  The doctor told him that his urinary difficulties were probably related to his having prostate cancer.  However, it appeared that the cancer was spread beyond the prostate so that surgery alone will not cure the cancer.  He would require other medications to help him with his prostate cancer and its symptoms.

Wang Xiao Ping and his wife both asked the doctor more questions about prostate cancer.  How common was it?  In men in Asia it is not as common as men in the United States or Europe.  However, most people felt that the amount of men with prostate cancer is growing in China.  There appears to be some link with smoking.  Men from Africa appear to have the highest risk of developing prostate cancer.  Also men who have had a vasectomy (a procedure for male birth control) may have a slightly higher chance of getting prostate cancer though this is not entirely confirmed.

In the United States the amount of prostate cancer being detected and treated is increasing.  This is felt to be due to increased screening of prostate cancer with a blood test called PSA.  This test is available in China and used a lot in China.  In the United States it is recommended that all men over age 50 have this test done.  This recommendation is not currently being made in China.  If it were perhaps more prostate cancer would be detected in China.

A second question is can prostate cancer be picked up early so it can be cured, rather than wait till a person has symptoms like Wang Xiao Ping did?  Yes this can be done.  The screening test mentioned in the previous paragraph can do this.  It can pick up prostate cancer in the very early stages so that people can have earlier treatment and then the cancer removed before it spreads from the prostate to other parts of the body.  After the prostate cancer spreads from the prostate gland there is little chance the cancer can be cured.  Thus the need for it to be detected earlier.

Since Wang Xiao Ping could not have surgery as his cancer was so advanced, he elected to have chemotherapy.  This did help him feel better. It also helped shrink the total amount of cancer in the prostate gland so he could urinate better.  The doctor also told him that in general prostate cancer is a slower growing cancer.  So he could live for years.  What should be focused on is minimizing his pain and discomfort.

However, Wang Xiao Ping not only had pain and discomfort from the prostate cancer he had a lot of emotional pain.  He had been in good health till this came along.  Now he was not able to play with his grandson and feared he would not live to see him grow up.  This really upset him.  He wondered what to do. 

One day as he was walking and listening to his radio he turned it and heard a statement on the radio which really got his attention.  He came to a radio station, which was talking about suffering and hope.  Wang Xiao Ping had suffering from his cancer but he did not think he had much hope. The radio station said the following, 'Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything (James 1.2-4).'

What an amazing statement.  He certainly had heard of the benefits of suffering in life.  However Wang Xiao Ping was not sure if he had ever heard of the idea that you should be mature and complete, not lacking in anything.  How could suffering produce a mature person not lacking in anything?  What did 'not lacking in anything' mean?  The radio program went onto talk about having peace in Jesus Christ.  It stated the following, 'Therefore since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.  And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.  Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he had given us (Romans 5.1-5).'

This was really an amazing statement.  If combined both suffering and hope and gave meaning to both in a positive sense but with both related to the person of Jesus Christ.  We can rejoice in hope because of Jesus Christ and we can rejoice in suffering also because of Jesus Christ.  The suffering ultimately produces hope and that hope from suffering does not disappoint because of what God has done in our lives through Jesus Christ.  However, Wang Xiao Ping was not entirely sure of what this Jesus Christ had done to give positive meaning to hope and suffering.  He wanted to know more.

The next day the same radio talked more of what Jesus Christ had done.  It talked of his suffering.  It talked of his death on the Cross.  Wang Xiao Ping had assumed that Jesus Christ had died like all other people but he did not know he had died on a Cross.  This sounded like the death of a criminal.  The radio program went onto quote from the same section in a book called Romans in the Bible.  It said the following, '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, through for a good man someone might possibly dare to die.  But God demonstrates his own live for us in this:  While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.   Since we have no been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him!  For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!  Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation (Romans 5.6-11).'

This was an amazing statement about Jesus Christ.  He not only died; he died for us, even when we were going against him and away from him.  This showed God's love for us through the person of Jesus Christ.  Even while we were God's enemies Christ reconciled us to God or made us right with him.  However, the statement, which truly astounded Wang Xiao Ping, was that we are saved through his life.  It sound as if he was still alive.  But how could that be if he was dead.  The passage clearly stated he had died.  The only possibility is that he was now alive but how could that be?

Before going on any further and talking about Jesus Christ being alive let us talk more about how medical treatment of prostate cancer keeps people alive.  If the prostate cancer is too advanced as it was in people like Wang Xiao Ping, then the treatment is local radiation where a person hurts as well as chemotherapy to slow the spread of the disease.  This treatment helps a person to live a little longer but it does not cure them of the prostate cancer. If the cancer is confined to the prostate then patients can have either one of two treatments, first is surgical removal of the prostate.  This cures 60% of the men completely.  Second, is radiation therapy to the prostate.  This cures 40% of the men permanently.  The disadvantage of surgery is that more men are left impotent from the surgery.  However, surgical techniques are improving all of the time.

The really main problem with prostate cancer if it cannot be cured is the control of pain.  Often in more advanced or later stages the patient can have a lot of pain.  This is because the cancer spreads to the bones. This treating the patient with appropriate pain medications is important.  This is a very important aspect of helping these patients towards the end of their lives.  This was the case with Wang Xiao Ping.  As time went on he developed more and more pain from his prostate cancer.  The doctor gave him some medicines, which helped him a lot, but never quite got rid of his pain. 

Wang Xiao Ping kept listening to the radio program and learned more about Jesus Christ and the hope he had to offer people.  He learned that the main problem was that people had gone their own way and had ignored God.  The Bible said it like this, 'For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature- have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.   For although they knew God they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened (Romans 1.20-22).'  Then he learned that it was not just a few people but all people who had done this.  Everyone who had ever lived had disobeyed God.  The Bible also said it like this, 'For all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3.23).'  Every person who had every lived had sinned and fallen short of what God wanted for them in life.  Then he learned that the Bible showed the terrible results of sin, '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 sin was death, not life through Jesus Christ.

But why and how did Jesus come to life after his death?  The radio program explained it like this, 'For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve…And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.  Then those also who have fallen asleep (or have died in this world) in Christ are lost.  If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more that all men.  But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.  For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man, that is Jesus Christ…Where of death, is your victory?  Where, O death, is your sting?  The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God!  He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (I Corinthians 15.3-5, 17-21, 55-57).'

Jesus Christ did indeed rise from the dead and it is this resurrection from the dead that gives us hope and faith in the midst of suffering because Jesus Christ's resurrection from the dead shows victory over the sin, suffering and death of this world.

Wang Xiao Ping one day was listening to the radio and they asked who wanted to know Jesus Christ as their personal Savoir.  Wang Xiao Ping wanted this to have peace, purpose and victory. He did not want his suffering to be for nothing. He prayed the following prayer.  'Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I have done wrong and have sinned against you.  I know that you died on the Cross-for my sins because you loved me.  I know that after you died you were buried and then rose to new life so that I too can have new life both now and forever.  I accept you into my heart today.'  Wang Xiao Ping prayed this and had a great joy in his heart he had not had before.  You too can have the same eternal life if you believe and pray this same prayer.