New Life Through Cancer

- A testimony of Mr. Kuo Li

Faced with the life-threatening disease of cancer, most people will be overcome with fear and helplessness, but there are a few exceptional patients who find love and new meaning of life despite this adversity. Such is the testimony of 77 year-old Mr. Kuo Li.

Mr. Li is from Toisan, China. He met his wife in college while studying chemical engineering. They both graduated and served in the Beijing Chemical Engineering Plant in the Technical Cadre. They had children and raised a family, living a comfortable life. In 1997, China opened up to the outside world, and Mr. Li took advantage of the opportunity to emigrate with the family to Hong Kong, seeking a better life for the family. After running a family business for seven years, he took the family to San Francisco. Despite being in a foreign land and unfamiliar environment, Mr. Li managed to provide for the family. Then in 2007 during a routine physical checkup, he was diagnosed to have stage 2 lung cancer.

“I don’t drink and I don’t smoke, and I always maintain a positive attitude to work hard.” Mr. Li recalled how he reacted to this bad news. “I felt that it was very unfair for me to have this disease. But what could I do but to follow the orders of the doctor.”

In Jan 11, 2008 Mr. Li went through surgery and underwent chemotherapy. Side effects of the treatments caused him to lose his hair. He began to feel very depressed. To make it worse, he lost his appetite. However, he did not feel sorry for himself. He kept up with his positive attitude to face his illness. The main reason why he was able to do so was because of the power of love.

“I was not expecting much, but Mr. Lam (Herald Cancer Care coordinator) reached out to me.” Mr. Li recalled. “He cared for me and helped me unconditionally. I had never experienced such love from a total stranger in my life.”

Mr. Li did have some prior knowledge of the Christian faith. He had been invited to church meetings, but often found them to be dry and uninteresting. His atheistic background growing up in Communist China also biased his thinking, quenching any desire to know anything about God. Nevertheless, the unconditional caring he received began to change his thinking.

“Joe (Herald Cancer Care volunteer) took me to the meetings in his church.” Mr. Li said, “I felt different this time, possibly because of my cancer condition and needed the support of others. I felt very much at home going to church, and I enjoyed talking to people and listening to them talking about their faith.” Although he did not make a decision to accept this new faith, he continued to receive the caring and love of his new Christian friends.

“On Dec. 28, 2009, I woke up at a little after 5 am and could not go back to sleep. I thought of the caring I received from the church and how it has helped me.” Mr. Li remembered. “I decided that I might as well open my heart to receive Jesus. In making this decision, I also write a poem to commemorate the occasion. When I told Joe about it, he was overjoyed.”

Mr. Li was baptized on July 12, 2009, and continued attending the Friday night fellowship as well as the Sunday worship service regularly. He wrote another poem to honor his church:

Bathing in the grace of Jesus,
I joyfully receive the love of Christ,
Lights are turned on while dusk is approaching,
And I found myself bathed in the warmth of my fellow men.
Washed away are my sins as testified by my baptism,
My eternal life is now assured through my faith in the Lord.
Serving henceforth with God’s people,
How sweet are the fruits of our labor.

The doctor discovered recently that Mr. Li has cancer metastasized to his brain, but due to his suppressed immunity caused by radiation therapy, he can only receive oral chemotherapy to control the disease. Despite this setback, Mr. Li has peace and hope, not fear or resentment.

“I hand over my trouble to God, and do not dwell on it.” Mr. Li said. “I have faith that God will take good care of me.”