It”s Not Over
The Miguel Lopez story
On a dark Wednesday night in April 2013 Miguel was in the parking lot of Faith assembly of God in Orlando Florida. The Wednesday night service had concluded. Miguel and his brothers, sister-in-law and family and friends were in earnest prayer for Miguel. Just the Monday before he had been notified by his doctor that he had three cancerous lumps in his right lung. The doctor felt it urgent enough for him to schedule surgery Thursday, the next day. Miguel was informed by his son that his doctor told him that he could do the surgery without a problem, but due to the nature of the surgery and the threat of infection after the surgery, he could only give Miguel a 15 to 20% chance of survival. As they prayed and asked God to be with Miguel, to give his doctor wisdom, and to guide his hands, the thought that came to Miguel’s mind was the lyrics to the song “It’s Not Over”
It’s not over. It’s not finished
It’s not ending. It’s only the beginning
When God is in it, all things are new
All things are new.
By Ricardo Sanchez
In January Miguel was in search for a deeper closer relationship with God. As part of the search, he had been praying for his family to be reunited and for the division in their lives to be resolved and a better familial relationship be created. With this prayer he was also requesting from God that He would bring his family back to a relationship with God.
During this period of time the Pastor had been promoting the Daniel fast. It is a fast where one would abstain from eating meat, breads and any type of desserts. At the same time as the fast which was to begin in January, he was also encouraging the church to read the entire bible in one year. Miguel felt, since he had never done a fast of this type and had never read the entire bible, that it would be a good time to seek God in this way. Miguel’s goal and hope was that this would help him in his quest for a closer relationship with God.
As a result of the fasting and bible reading Miguel started to feel better both physically and spiritually. He began to lose weight and his personal spiritual needs were being met. He began to volunteer at Faith Assembly and after a short time he accepted a position at the church and came on staff and began working as a custodian.
In early April, Miguel and his wife went to a Joyce Meyer conference. Miguel and his wife enjoyed the conference immensely. When they left the event, his wife Diana told Miguel she was hungry and would like something to eat. He suggested they stop at the Subway on the way home and they could get her something. Upon arriving at the Subway, Miguel felt a scratchy throat and attributed it to sing too loudly or too long. He attempted to cough out whatever was causing him to have a scratchy throat, and to his surprise he coughed up four clots of blood. Though surprised at this Miguel decided not to call for medical attention at that point. He waited until the next day to call his Dr. Miguel wanted to assure himself that his decision to stop taking his COPD medication in January was not the cause of the blood clots or causing him any other complications.
He had a scheduled follow up appointment for September. However, as a result of the previous nights blood clots, he thought it prudent to consult his doctor. before his scheduled appointment. Miguel went to see his doctor. but he was not available, so he met with the nurse practitioner. He told her he was there for two reasons. One was to ask if he could quit taking the medications he had already stopped taking. The other was the blood clots. She asked him how he was doing? Miguel responded he was doing well. He didn’t have any breathing problems or any other reportable problems. She was concerned not only because of the blood clots but also because he had lost thirty-two pounds since his last visit. Miguel explained about the fast he had been on, but she still want him to have an x-ray taken and a breathing test.
The x-ray was performed Monday and the breathing test was scheduled for Thursday. Before he went to do the breathing test, he received a call from the doctor’s office requesting that he retake x-ray with dye this time, because his doctor wanted a clearer look at his lungs. He complied and had the x-ray redone and then he went to do his breathing test.
The appointment to discuss the results was the following Monday. When he arrived for his appointment the doctor said “I have good news and bad news.” The doctor said the good news is that the breathing test showed you were doing perfect as far as breathing is concerned. The bad news was there was have a 4.2 cm by 4 cm tumor in my lung and it was reason for concern. The doctor told him they needed to schedule him for a lung biopsy. They arranged for him to have the biopsy done on Thursday of the same week. Before he could have the biopsy he needed to have a pet scan. His follow-up appointment was on Monday. They scheduled the pet scan and the lung biopsy on Thursday. When Miguel went for his pet scan there had been a thunder-storm that damaged the machinery and they could not do the pet scan. So he call the Dr.s office told the nurse what happened and she told to continue with the prep for the biopsy and he could do the pet scan the following Monday.
Before the doctor did the biopsy, Miguel tells him “I know you’re not going to find anything because I feel fine. I know there is nothing in there.” However the Dr. tells him, “lets proceed just in case. So he does the biopsy. The following Monday Miguel went in to have the pet scan done. He was then scheduled to discuss the results the following Monday.
That Monday, Miguel and his wife went to discuss the results. doctor told him you have cancer. Miguel asked the doctor what do you want me to do now? He told him, “you need to make an appointment with your surgeon.” Miguel said OK, but before he can turn around the nurse came in and told Miguel. “You have an appointment with your surgeon tomorrow morning at eight a.m.” Miguel asked the nurse, “do I have any say in this?” No, you don’t, she replied go see your surgeon in the morning.” Miguel said “well OK then.”
Miguel told his wife she should not miss work, so he would go with his son. This is the son that was having the problems with his other siblings and they were not talking. So his son took him to see his surgeon. His surgeon asked him “what have you done to yourself” Miguel responded “I don’t know, but Dr Hernandez said I have a tumor.” “Did you bring the CD?” “Yes I did” responded Miguel. The surgeon left the room with the CD and returns a few minutes later. “I love Dr. Hernandez but he will need glasses. You don’t have one tumor. You have three and the are scattered. Miguel asked “ what does that mean?”
The surgeon explained “you are 59 years old and still young and healthy enough to withstand the surgery. Fortunately, your breathing test show that your remaining lung is functioning well enough to allow the surgery. All of the numbers are good. If they were not, I would not consider doing what I am going to suggest. However, if I do what I’m thinking of doing, removing the entire lung, because of the risk of infection and the nature of the surgery, the best I can offer you is a fifteen to twenty percent survival rate. But, that’s what I’m saying. I don’t know what the man upstairs has in mind for you. He has created you in such a wondrous way, that I don’t know what I am going to find when I open you up. That’s when Miguel went into la-la land. The surgeon took his son aside and told him. “I know your father is a strong man and when I finish with him you will have him back; but I needed to tell you what might happen.” They went back to the nurse station, the surgeon tells his nurse to find a time for Miguel as soon as possible. She started talking about doing it Thursday afternoon, but the surgeon did not like doing complicated surgeries that late in the day. So, they discuss doing it early on Friday Morning. Finally, the surgeon moved a late Thursday afternoon surgery to Friday morning. He rearranged his schedule and put Miguel in at 8 o’clock Thursday morning. Miguel was listening to this, thinking, “on a Thursday, this or next month I will be coming in to have a lung removed.” Finally, Miguel speaks up Thursday this month next month when? The nurse tells him today is Tuesday. Tomorrow is Wednesday, then Thursday at 8 am. In a short period of time, Miguel went from coughing up a few blood clots to having major surgery.
About sixty hours later at five o’clock in the morning, Miguel went into the pre op room. He has given his name and birthday to every nurse in the hospital, or at least it seems that way. He was in the final steps of being prepped before going into the operating room. His surgeon had told him that before he would start the surgery he was going to do a new scan to make sure the tumors were still there. He told Miguel, “I am going to enter your chest through the same incision I made five years ago. I usually don’t like to go through scar tissue ,but I think this will be best.” Miguel was rolled into the operating room and transferred onto the operating table. All of the necessary equipment was hook up. He looked at the anesthesiologist who explains “ I’m going to inject you with this sedative” and you will feel your hand get hot then you will fall asleep”. The last thing Miguel remembered was his hand getting warm.
The family was in the waiting room getting a little concerned, as it was 1pm and still the surgery was not over. Around two p.m. the surgeon arrived in the waiting room, and says “hallelujah he is cancer free! I have removed his cancer.” The surgeon explained that when he open Miguel up the three tumors had joined into one. “That is just something that our powerful God does and I am not going to question Him.” He said. He was being prepped to go into the ICU recovery room. The nurse come and take you to where he would be in about thirty minutes. By preparing, he meant that they were installing all the tubes and lines that are commonly used after a major operation. They did not want the family to be shocked by all the equipment that was being used for his recovery. However, when they arrived in his room, to everyone’s surprise he was not hooked up to every piece of equipment in the room and shortly after being transferred into his ICU room he began to regain consciousness. Shortly after that he asked for ice as well as a virgin pina colada. As he craving something sweet. It was unusual for someone who just had two-thirds of his lung removed to come out of surgery as lucid and carefree as Miguel had.
During this short period of time the Lord God started to answer Miguel’s prayer. His family was able to put aside their difference and come together and pray and support their father. Through this potentially tragic event, the seeds of restoration were planted in his family.
Even though this event had the potential of tragic results, Miguel testifies to the glory and wonder of God. Miguel believes that through his search for a more intimate relationship with God, God saw what was coming long before Miguel knew anything about it and started to prepare him for this ordeal with something as simple as a fast and reading the word of God.
Through this experience Miguel is convinced of the power of prayer. He tells of all the people all over the states that were praying for him. He is convinced that without that prayer from his friends and family the outcome would not have been the same. He is convinced and steadfast in his belief that prayer has the power to change things.
Miguel has always loved God but now he is attuned to the call of God on his life. He is no longer overly concerned with the cares of this world. He is more concerned with the cares of God.
After the surgery Miguel was fitted with a port for chemotherapy. He had to ask his doctor “Why do I need Chemo? All of the indications are that I am fine, so why do I need chemo?” The doctor told him, “you have a big hole in your chest and this a precautionary measure to insure your health.” Miguel went to get his chemo. While the procedure was being performed he would speak to other people who were being treated. It seemed to Miguel that he was not there for the chemo, but to pray with people and to encourage them and to point them toward God. Miguel still marvels at how God would put him in a place where he could share the love of God with people who were frightened, hurt and lonely.
Miguel was in the hospital for four weeks and during that time he also became aware of the needs of his providers. He began to see how hard it was for these people to do their jobs. He empathized with them and realized that the nurses and support staff and everyone that worked in this environment were in need of prayer. They needed to be lifted up to God. He recognized when working in a demanding environment where every one of their patients had demands and their job was to fulfill these demands it had to be exhausting. He decided he would pray for them and lift them up because they needed it as much as he did. He did not just pray for them silently in his time of prayer. No he prayed with them and for them.
He is aware that the miracle that has been performed in his life is not a singular event. He knows God performs miracles every day and the world needs to know that God is alive, working and well.
It’s not over. It’s not finished.
It’s not ending. It’s only the beginning.
When God is in it, all things are new.
All things are new.
By Ricardo Sanchez