What Dr. Luke has to Say About Skin Cancer

Ming Da Shan was getting dressed one morning when he noticed a new small lump on his arm.  He thought it was nothing and ignored it and thought it would go away.  However, the small lump remained on his arm and did not go away and in fact got slightly bigger.  He showed it to his wife after several weeks.  She noted it was black and slightly red. She thought it might be a good idea to go to the hospital and see a doctor about this.  She had heard that some people could get skin cancers, which can be quite harmful.  So Ming Da Shan went to the hospital the next week to see a doctor.  After seeing a general doctor he was sent to a specialty clinic where a skin doctor was located.  The skin doctor told Ming Da Shan that he needed to have the area of his skin on his arm removed to see if it was a cancer. 

The skin doctor told Ming Da Shan that the removal of the skin lesion was a very minor operation.  They would only need to place a small amount of medicine in the area of the skin lesion to numb it up and then cut it out.  He would be fine after the operation.  Once the skin was removed then it would be sent to the hospital laboratory where another doctor, to see if it is cancer, would analyze it.

When the results of the skin biopsy came back it was found to be a special type of cancer called a melanoma.  The doctor told him that it appeared that they had removed all of the skin cancer from the arm and that he should be cured of the skin cancer.

Ming Da Shan asked the doctor many questions about skin cancer.  Were there other types of skin cancers?  The doctor told him that there were many types of skin cancers.  The ones most important were ones like he had, called a melanoma and others which primarily occur on the arms or face where they get a lot of skin cancers.  These are called squamous cell cancers and basal cell cancers. 

Then Ming Da Shan asked who gets these cancers?  There are some genetic links but people who are in the sunlight more are more likely to get these cancers.  This is the most important fact.  For example, people in the southern part of China are more likely to get them that people in the northern part of China.  However, Chinese, because they are more heavily pigmented in their skin, which makes their skin darker, are less likely to get these types of skin cancers than people from Europe, and especially those from northern Europe. 

How can you recognize these cancers at an early stage, Ming Da Shan then asked?  The doctor told him that people with this skin cancer generally have part of their skin, which changes rapidly.  The area of the cancer generally grows fast.  The cancer is generally black or brown and may have a red, white or blue part of the cancer.  It can be raised or flat.  The borders or edges of the cancer are irregular.  Some people even have an old area with more pigment, which starts to change rapidly. All of these should raise suspicion that a person may have skin cancer.

Basal cell or squamous cell cancers can cause cancers on the face or hands generally.  These do not grow as fast as the melanoma cancers and unlike the melanoma cancers generally do not spread beyond the skin.  The melanoma cancer does spread beyond the skin and when it does there is very little treatment for these patients.  Thus the great important of all of the skin cancers is to pick them up early so they can be treated early and cured.  If they spread beyond the skin they may not be able to be cured.

Ming Da Shan did not like the thought that he was so close to death.  While in the clinic he had met another man who just like Ming Da Shan had developed a small skin lesion and had come in after several weeks, just like Ming Da Shan and nearly the same age. However, unlike Ming Da Shan his skin cancer had already spread to other parts of his body.  This man knew he was dying and would probably die soon from his cancer, which was spreading so fast.  There was little treatment for this man.  Ming Da Shan was so glad this had not happened to him.  However, this event had made him think hard about the meaning of life.  Why are we here?  What meaning does life have?  What does happen after we die?  He knew Chinese did not like thinking about such things but it was the reality that must be dealt with.

The man Ming Da Shan had met in the clinic who was dying from the skin cancer had an unusual peace about him.  Ming Da Shan hoped he could again meet this man some day.  He went back to a follow up appointment with the skin doctor and asked the nurse for this man's telephone number and gave him a call.  The arranged a time to meet.  At the meeting Ming Da Shan asked this man how he was so peaceful in the face of near certain death.  His new friend told him that he had not always had this peace.  In fact when he was first diagnosed with this cancer he was very angry.  That was 9 months ago.  Since then he had picked up a Bible a friend gave him.  While reading the Bible and talking with other friends who believed in the Bible he had come to believe in Jesus Christ as his personal Savior.  That gave him more peace than he could ever know.

Ming Da Shan wanted to know more about this peace and how to have it, because he wanted it not only now but also in the future. Plus he knew that in the past before he even had this cancer he was not a particularly happy man.  His work, family and other aspects of his life just did not give him the pleasure and happiness he wanted to have.  However, the peace he saw in his friend was clearly a peace he wanted to have. 

His new friend told him that to have this peace you must place your trust in Jesus Christ.  Here is what this new friend said to Ming Da Shan, ''But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.  For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility (Ephesians 2.13,14).'  His friend explained to Ming Da Shan that this meant that once we were far away from God because of our sin, but now through Christ Jesus and his death on the Cross-for our sins, we have been brought near to God.  As a result Jesus Christ is our peace before God.  He allows us to come before God.  Ming Da Shan was a bit unclear as to why he would be separated from God in the first place.  What had he done wrong? 

His friend pointed out another place in the Bible, 'As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.  All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful thoughts.  Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath (Ephesians 2.1-3).'  His friend explained that our sins before God made us dead.  These sins were because we followed the ways of the world and not the ways of God.  Our goal was to gratify our nature and thoughts and not God's.  We were like everyone else and thus separated from God and thus rightful recipients of God's wrath.  Sin is going against what God wants for us and because God cannot tolerate sin he must do away with it.

Ming Da Shan's friend though went onto explain that things did not end there.  He pointed out that God provided a solution for this separation and God's wrath.  He did this by providing the person of Jesus Christ in our place.  The Bible went onto explain it like this, 'But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions-it is by grace you have been saved…For it is by grace you have been saved through faith and that not of yourselves, it is a gift of God-not by works, so that no one can boast (Ephesians 2.4,5,8,9).'  Even when we were dead in our sins or wrong doings before God, God, because of his great love for us made us alive with Jesus Christ.  This is because of God's grace or his unmerited favor.  It is not something we can earn but it is through our faith in Jesus Christ that we can have this life in Jesus Christ.  This was how to have peace with Jesus Christ.  This was great news for Ming Da Shan. Now he wanted to know how to have this peace with Jesus Christ. How could he get to know him to have this peace?

Before we go onto answer that question. Dr. Luke wants to finish with the treatment of skin cancers.  Ming Da Shan had come very early to see the doctor about his skin cancer.  For this he was very glad.  The doctor had really praised Ming Da Shan in this, though he pointed out that some people with these melanomas, like his new friend, have no warning about these melanomas.  In fact about 10% of people have no warning and when the cancer shows up it has already spread.  At this point in medical science there is little to do.  The important thing for all skin cancers, where on the face, arms or wherever, is that if you see something new or suspicious go and see the doctor and let them evaluate and even biopsy it if needed.

The treatment for removing the skin cancers can be different depending on the type of skin cancer, its location and how advanced it is. For some skin cancers they can be frozen with cold liquid nitrogen.  This is very simple. For others they need to be removed with minor surgery, like Ming Da Shan. Some people have much more advanced skin cancer and need more advanced surgery, with plastic surgeons and other surgeons involved. 

Finally, some people need to have chemotherapy to help them.  Most of these patients are those whose cancers have spread, such as Ming Da Shan's friend.

Regardless, the most important point the doctor told Ming Da Shan is that if any part of his skin changes in the future he needs to come back and see the doctor.  Also, it would be a good idea once a year for Ming Da Shan to return to the skin doctor just to be checked by the doctor. Sometimes doctors can detect early changes, which a patient can miss.

Let's now return to see how Ming Da Shan learned more about having peace with Jesus Christ.  Ming Da Shan asked his friend how he could have peace with God.  His friend told him he must come into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  He could do this by believing the following verse also from the Bible.  The verse said this, 'That if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God had raised him from the dead you will be saved.  For it is with the mouth that you confess and are saved and it is with the heart that you believe and are saved (Romans 10.9,10).'  This states that if you confess with your mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord of the world, your life and Lord because he died on the Cross for our sins so that you would not have to bear them, and then believed in your heart that God raised Jesus Christ from the dead to proved his victory over sin and death.  If you do and believe in all of these things, you will be saved from the misery of sinning now and in the future and avoid having eternal death but have eternal life starting right now with Jesus Christ.

Ming Da Shan wanted to have this personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  So his friend prayed this prayer with him, 'Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I have sinned before you and because of my sin I am separated from you.  I believe that you died on the Cross-for my sins and bore them so I would not have to bear these sins.  I also believe that after you died you rose from the dead to show you power over sin and death and are alive today. I ask to you to come into my life and save me.'  Ming Da Shan prayed this prayer and asked Jesus Christ into his life.  You too can do the same.