Cancer and Creation

Reflections from a survivor


Warning: Some graphic medical pictures are displayed at the bottom of this article

Photo 40776250 | Man Jogging © Ineke Huizing | Dreamstime.comcancer-creation

On a recent morning jog, I recalled with thanksgiving in my heart to the Lord that it had now been almost ten years since I first felt a swelling in my groin area, right at the top of my inner thigh. As I had recently started cycling, I hoped that my skinny legs were at last starting to develop some muscle. The problem was that the swollen area was only on my left side. The lump rapidly began to grow larger. Over the course of the next few weeks, after a scan and needle biopsy, it was diagnosed as a stage 3 soft tissue sarcoma, a high-grade malignant tumour. I soon learned that, with the suggested treatment, statistically I had about a 50% chance of living for five years.

Despite the fairly grim prognosis, I had a great deal of peace. The certainty of everlasting life in Jesus Christ, as well as the ‘big picture’ of cancer and death being a part of the Curse as a child of Adam, brought perspective and calm to my soul. A compromise view of Genesis puts carnivory, cancer, suffering and death (all part of the fossil record) as directly attributable to the way God created the universe. A straightforward reading of the Bible, however, makes very clear that these things are an ‘enemy’ (as death is called in 1 Corinthians 15:26) that invaded God’s perfect creation due to Adam’s rebellion.

Witnessing opportunities

In the past a full amputation of the leg would have been a strong possibility, but my surgeon was going to attempt to remove the tumour locally. Despite previous ultrasound and CT scans, the exact position of the tumour in relation to surrounding muscles and arteries was not certain. During an MRI scan on the morning of the procedure, I remember telling the radiographer about the creation connection to Dr Raymond Damadian, a creation-believing medical scientist and the primary inventor of the MRI technology (see The not-so-Nobel decision). It was just one of a number of instances where the Lord provided opportunities for me to witness of creation and the Gospel during this period, including gifting the surgeon later on with a copy of The Creation Answers Book.

Contemplating the body’s design

A glucose isotope1 mixture was given to me to enhance the tumour on the scan. It showed up as a bright white ball. Even with the scan, the surgeon was not certain of the implications of the operation.

I awoke from the procedure to the encouraging news that the nearly eight-cm-diameter tumour was totally enclosed within the gracilis muscle. This entire muscle had been completely and skilfully removed all the way from the pubic bone (part of the pelvis) to the knee. A subsequent biopsy of the tumour revealed very little evidence of cancer cells in the muscle margins. This was good news as it meant a decreased likelihood that the cancer would metastasize to other organs, the lungs being the most likely. This refers to the cancer establishing itself in those other organs, sometimes called ‘seeding’, via clumps of cancer cells travelling in the blood and/or lymph vessels.

The muscle’s name, gracilis, means ‘gracile’ (thin, slender). Due to the pronunciation of ‘gracile’ (grace-aisle’) it was a constant reminder to me of God’s grace to this unworthy servant, throughout that uncertain episode in my life. Although it is a fairly minor muscle, sometimes used in reconstructive surgery, on one or two occasions I felt my knee give way backwards! I guess the brain very quickly compensated for this, and within a week of surgery I was back on my bicycle. I have often reflected on the over-engineering of the human body. The loss of this muscle has had no discernible impact on my life or mobility.

The following photos supplied by Marc AmblerMRI-scan-tumor

It strikes me as absurd that a process of random mutations conserved by natural selection, in the Darwinian struggle for life, could possibly account for this and so many other amazing parts of the human body. So many people have swallowed this belief. Yet, how can evolution account for these ‘add-ons’ without which we can survive quite comfortably? It is as if God has made us with all sorts of ‘optional extras’; rather like those offered when purchasing a car, totally unnecessary to get us from A to B safely and efficiently, but they certainly add a little more pleasure or comfort to the journey. Truly we can join with the Psalmist in declaring, “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well” (Psalm 139:14).

The cancer cure we all need

Though mercifully spared in this episode in my life, I remain like all of us, physically destined for death. Cancer, senescence, and other degenerative and disease processes are all parts of that journey. But what joy and peace there is for Christian believers. By God’s grace, I have the certain knowledge that, being ‘born again’ spiritually through belief in my Saviour Jesus Christ, I will one day be given a new body, without sin, and therefore without the terrible, corrupting effect of sin and the curse. “The last enemy to be destroyed is death” (1 Corinthians 15:26). Sin is like an incurable spiritual cancer; it is terminal (Romans 6:23). That’s bad news, but there’s a glorious hope of a permanent cure.

By taking the death penalty of sin upon Himself on the Cross, the sinless Son of God—Jesus the ‘last Adam’ (1 Corinthians 15:45)—conquered death! He arose victorious from the grave, assuring everlasting life to those that come to God by Him (which is Good News!). “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4)—praise the Lord!

The gracilis muscle exposed prior to removal
The entire gracilis muscle removed
The tumour exposed inside the muscle
Published: 17 October 2023

References and notes

  1. Cancer cells metabolize sugars far more rapidly than normal, healthy cells. For this reason, radioactive glucose is ingested prior to a scan. The tumours take up far more glucose than healthy, surrounding tissue thereby also increasing the radioactive isotopes, which dramatically highlight the size and position of the tumours on the scan. Return to text.