Friday, October 14, 2011

"I believe, help thou my unbelief"

Today was a harder day. It was great to be at work but emotional too. It is hard to look at my patients and know that I won't see them for a while. Many of them were tearful which made me tear up too. It doesn't take much these days. One sweet patient offered to help JoLynne and I fly back an forth with her frequent flyer miles, two of my friends who are dentists came up and offered to help with anything I needed. I am surrounded by wonderful people.

Early in the day I received several letters from doctors at Mayo written to our insurance company to help us in our petition for coverage out of network. I know the letters were trying to paint a worst case scenario so that insurance will pay but it is hard to read things like "high possibility of morbidity or permanent loss of function" or "High probability that this case will require postoperative chemotherapy and radiation". It may be true but I don't like thinking about it. Later the lead surgeon who will be operating on me called to talk about my pathology report. It is frustrating to us all that we don't have clear pathology. He felt very strongly that we need to operate now because of the size and location of the tumor. Sometimes they will use chemo first on osteosarcoma but he felt that we just can't take that risk. When I asked him what we will do if the final pathology shows it to be a high grade sarcoma he said "If it's a high grade tumor then we will give you four courses of chemotherapy over the next year and radiation too if we can't get clear borders." Then he told me an unpleasant story about a case last year involving a sarcoma. Yuck, I don't like hearing stories like that. Telling my office staff goodbye was hard as well. They are more than employees, they are my friends. I had some other scary emails too which I quick deleted so JoLynne wouldn't see them. By the time my friend who is covering my patients came in to talk I wasn't doing so great. I felt bad that he had to sit there and watch me cry. It was just a lot to deal with in one day.

By the time I got home I felt emotionally drained. My sweet JoLynne was gone but she got home about 15 minutes later. Somehow she always know the right thing to do. She just held me in her arms for several minutes. I don't understand it, but somehow that seems to shield me from my problems. I can understand why our children always wanted her to hold them.

I know that we are doing the right thing and that Heavenly Father has helped us every step of the way but it's still scary and it's hard not to think about "what if's". I feel like the father in the new testament who wanted his child healed by the Savior. When asked if he believed he said "I believe, help thou my unbelief." I wish my faith were stronger.

Since this whole thing began I have had a thousand thoughts running through my mind. On hard days they move so quickly that I can't even process them. There has been one thought that has come back over and over. Right after I heard from the oral surgeons that something was wrong I was driving home from BYU and having an avalanche of thoughts and emotions. At that point I didn't even know it was cancer but that thought had certainly crossed my mind. In the middle of that storm of thoughts the words came into my mind, "Be still, my son, and know that I am God" At the time I thought, "what kind of reassurance it that? That doesn't promise me anything." But for some reason those are the words have come back into my mind over and over. I just need to "be still" and watch God's hand direct what happens. I believe that, I just need a little help on my unbelief.


  1. It's nice to read this and know that you are real and human and you aren't always trying to look on the bright side. It's okay (and normal) to have bad days Eric. Just breathe in and out slowly a few times. Life will get better. We love you!

  2. Thanks for the emailed newsletter from your office tonight and thank you for allowing us to know what is going on with your right now. We will be sending prayers your way and exercising our faith on your behalf. We'll be thinking of you especially these next few days and will be praying that all goes well with your surgery. Hang in there! Love, the Cooks

  3. Dr. Vogel I am so saddened to hear the news! I live in Virginia now but still have been making appointments with your office when I'm in Provo because you are my all-time favorite dentist. Not that that should make you feel any better, but I truly appreciate your fine work. And my husband and our 2 children will pray for you that your surgery will go well next week, and that you'll have a full and complete recovery. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on your blog. I imagine it's difficult, but healing at the same time. Keep us posted - we will always have you in our prayers!!!
    Much love and God speed,
    Angela & Spencer Soffe

  4. Hey Eric, I have had those exact same feelings many times in my life. I also believe but sometimes wonder why my faith feels weak. It's so hard to be a fragile human. I know God has a purpose in our trials though. It's just hard to be patient in knowing why we have to go through some of the challenges we face. Some day we will understand. I'm so glad you have Jolynne. Thank you Jolynne for loving and caring for my brother. Hang in their Eric. We love you guys.

  5. Just wanted to let you know you're in the prayers at the Bartholomew home!