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Steve’s Story

During Easter weekend I began to feel out of sorts and experienced some unusual symptoms. On Monday morning I went to the doctor, who did tests and made a preliminary diagnoses that I was having gall bladder issues. He sent me for a ultrasound, which turned out to be negative for gall stones, and then a CT scan, which revealed a small mass on the head of my pancreas. On Wednesday I was able to get in to see a wonderful surgeon at Emory who was 95% certain that I had a malignant tumor. Because of the location, the tumor was blocking the bile duct and causing me to become jaundiced, but it is also operable. The decision was made to do a Whipple procedure  which is a complex, but effective surgery.  That surgery is now scheduled for Tuesday, May 6.

My wife, Sharol or I will be posting updates under the "Journal" tab of this page on a regular basis. We will also be monitoring comments in the the "Guestbook" section.

Latest Journal Update

October 20 - Facing fears

Steve here:

I feel a little embarrassed talking about a fear that I have just identified. There are are so many ultimate fears that I could have right now, and this one seems so petty. Nevertheless it has emerged, and like most fears needs to be faced. 

My fear has to do with security in my day to day living. For over five months now I have been generally house bound. It's not that I don't go out of the house. I go over to the campus; I go for walks; I go to the hospital and and doctor's office (though these excursions are not generally happy); and I have occasionally gone out for a meal. But my place of security is at home -- close to Sharol, close to my bed, tethered to my familiar life patterns, my medications and all the things that give me comfort. When I'm sick I just want to be home and close to the familiar. 

As the days have progressed I now recognize that I've grown dependent. And with this dependence has come a fear of being away from home for too long.  Thinking about travel for more than a few hours makes me anxious.

I've done a lot of travelling over the years so these are new feelings and they have come quite unexpectedly. I feel foolish even admitting this reality. 

But there it is. And like any fear it's important that it be faced. 

I realized how afraid I was when I planned a whole day away with special friends this past Saturday. I looked forward to the day,  I really enjoy these friends. But as the day approached I felt a growing anxiety. What if something happened?  What if I got half through the day and didn't feel good? I felt a little out of control and more than a little dependent. 

There are many little ways that life changes when you are facing sickness and death. I've now learned that new fears can pop up, along with a myriad of other challenges to the daily faithfulness to which I feel so strongly called. Things that have never bothered me much before may now feel like enemies.

So Saturday I faced a new fear. I spent all day with my friends and I stared my fear in the face a number of times. When I returned home late in the evening, I realized that I had healed a little.  My dear friends didn't know it, but their tender and thoughtful care was the love that was casting out my fear.

I wonder what other new surprises and fears I will discover in the weeks ahead, or how God will guide these unexpected bits of my complex journey. I want to come to the end with strength and courage. But life isn't always linear. There can be a jumble of twists and turns. I realize that maintaining my balance depends on my willingness to face the unexpected with humility and transparency, as well as endurance and fortitude. Stubborn pride is never a good companion. It only reinforces my anxieties.

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Comments

55 Comments

Jae Kim
By Jae Kim
Dr. Hayner, I think you're really a man of faith. Your transparent reflection and confessions are drawing me into thinking about my own frustration and fear as well. You're in such a vulnerable situation, but give me the strength for me to face up to my own fear. Keeping you in my prayer....Blessings
Jeff Hutcheson
By Jeff Hutcheson
Thanks again for such a courageous testimony. It's healing to read.
Charlene Hsu Gross
By Charlene Hsu Gross
You have struck another major chord, for we must each face the unexpected with humility and transparency as well as endurance and fortitude.

May the Spirit make it so for every fear, vulnerability, hope, and joy.
Roy Carlisle
By Roy Carlisle
Hi Steve, I haven't posted in a while, travel, work, two daughters coming back to the bay area, all of the usual excuses. I apologize for that. But this recent post hit me because I stopped traveling for a while for a similar reason. I didn't want to be far away from the necessary items for my diabetes. What if I ran out of insulin? What if my insulin bag got stolen? What if I ran out of syringes? How would I cope? It took some work to face all of this and get back on the road. But this latest 12 day trip forced all of those issues up to the fore again, especially while I was in the UK. And I had to face them all over again. Thanks for caring about all of us enough to share the ups and downs of your journey. Thanks for being the kind of man who even reflects on life and death issues in these profound ways. I am so grateful for you and for your leadership in the Christian community, even from our long ago days at Whitman together. Much love, Roy
Ann Woodward
By Ann Woodward
Dearest Steve. Thank you again for sharing and teaching us each time you post. I thank you specifically for naming this fear as it is one that I have had over the past 20+ years regarding the migraine headaches I have. They sometimes do keep me bound at home where I can control what I eat and how much rest I get. On the many trips we have taken over the years I have had more migraines than I care to number. Your words of encouragement about facing fears has really caused me to think about this. I never really thought about those fears stopping me but they surely do sometimes. Continued love and prayers being sent from our family and always thankfulness.
Mina Brink
By Blessings,
What a wonderful gift you gave in sharing your fear. I've had nightmares (isn't that for children) waking me up over the many challenges facing each of my grown children and continually have to regroup and outright call on the name of the Lord knowing that He doesn't give us a spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind. Thankfully it leads me to prayer, drawing close and seeing His hand everyday in the little affairs of life.
Laura Dorsey
By Laura Dorsey
Steve,
Your embrace of the familiar, home, daily faithfulness, companionship and love dilutes those fears and also brings us closer to you and Sharol. God bless and sustain you and yours each day.
David Musil
By David Musil
Steve, please, never "feel foolish" to express to family and friends even your smallest fear. It will only help them to better understand and be able to help you deal with these situations. I have experienced this exact feeling of anxiety in my cancer journey, and by letting my family and friends know about my fear, they are more aware and helpful when this anxiousness arises. It has also helped all of us identify and understand why our parents had such a difficult time of no longer wanting to participate in previously enjoyable family and church activities. Kathy and I continue to lift you and Sharol up in our prayers.
Megan Davis
By Megan Davis
Steve, Dan and I are praying for you. You are so very precious to us. Someone recently pointed out to us in the midst of a serious health crisis that fear is the seed of faith. It is only when we have something to be fearful of that we can take a step of faith. If there is nothing to be afraid of there is no need for faith and no opportunity to grow. None of God's people have been rebuked for fear but instead were comforted and strengthened supernaturally. I am praying that comfort for you and your family.
Luan Vinson
By Luan Butler Vinson
Steve, Thank you for your willingness to share your difficult journey so freely with those of us who care about you and who are praying for you and your family. Your family, friends, colleagues, even casual acquaintances or those who know you only by reputation or your affiliation with Columbia Seminary are all surely blessed by your words of faith, hope, courage and yes, even fear. Please know that prayers are rising for you from Pawleys Island, SC. - daily prayers for healing, for tolerance to the effects of treatment, for strength, and hope, for good times with friends and family and of course, for joy.