MUNCIE, IN–On July 12, the cancerous growth imbedded in the brain tissue of Warren Lenders got the news no tumor ever wants to hear: chemotherapy. Facing the prospect of cancer-killing radiation, the six-month-old malignant brain tumor could have cursed the heavens for dealing it such a cruel fate. Instead, it chose to be grateful for the time it has left, viewing each new day as a gift from God.
"God put me on this Earth for a purpose: to attach myself to the parietal lobe of loving husband and father of three Warren Lenders," said the tumor, speaking from the left hemisphere of Lenders' cerebrum. "But if He says it's time to go, then it's time to go. It is not for me to question why."
"As it says in the Good Book," the high-grade cerebellar astrocytoma continued, "'If you have received God's Gift of Grace, rejoice. Enjoy it every day.'"
After tragically losing most of its mass in a June 28 operation, the tumor is now in the midst of 12 grueling weeks of chemotherapy, a procedure doctors say it has a less than 20 percent chance of surviving.
"This has been the greatest trial of my entire life," the tumor said. "Operations, radium bombardment, cesium. You name it, I've been through it. But just as He did with Job, the Lord is presenting me with these hardships as a way of testing my faith."
According to doctors at Indiana University Medical Center, where the tumor is being treated, malignancies of its kind generally have a 60 percent survival rate. But because the tumor was detected early, its chances are far worse.
"Statistically, the odds are against it, no question," chief oncologist Dr. Irwin Patel said. "But this is one tough little tumor, and I wouldn't count it out. It's showing unusual tenacity for a supratentorial growth of its size. We thought the surgery would be the end, but when we got in there to debulk it, we found it had spread all over the place."
Throughout the ordeal, the tumor has found comfort in its strong Christian faith.
"Going into that surgery, I thought, 'Well, this could be the end of the line for me,'" the tumor said. "But, by some miracle, a few of my tendrils had adhered to the occipital lobe without the doctors realizing it, and I made it through the operation. I know in my heart it was God's hand guiding that surgeon's scalpel to the wrong place that day."
After the surgery, the tumor's weight had dropped to 9.8 grams.
"Some tumors might have thrown in the towel right then and there," it said. "But I'm not the type. I need only remember the trials that Jesus went through while in His earthly form to realize that my trials have been nothing."
The tumor sees the fact that it is still alive as "part of God's great plan."
"May I quote The Bible again? 'For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord,'" the tumor said. "I guess I'm so calm because I know that when it's my time to go, a better life awaits me in Heaven, where I will be rewarded for my faith with a glorious bounty of ganglion and glial cells, the likes of which a mortal being like myself cannot even conceive."
With its time possibly drawing to a close, the tumor reflected on its life.
"Honestly, I've been lucky," it said. "I could have been born an easily detectable epidermoid cyst and been destroyed swiftly. But instead, I was hidden by the bone matter of Lenders' skull and went undetected by X-rays for months."
The tumor also draws comfort and strength from its offspring.
"In my life, I've been fortunate enough to metastasize three dozen beautiful little cancerous cell masses, which I've sent off into the cerebrospinal fluid," it said. "Right now, they're just imperceptible growths on the spinal cord and medulla. But, God willing, when I've gone to my maker, they will be there to carry on my work. Praise the Lord."