Charles Horne: It shall not encumber you

When a person has a sufficient combination of things going wrong with him, he becomes what the Veteran’s Administration calls 100-percent disabled. But in July 2005, when my daughter and I went back to my home state of Mississippi for a vacation, I was feeling pretty good.

Once we got there, we found the weather to be extremely hot; I would guess about 115 degrees outside. So inside our hotel room, we cranked the air conditioner to get it as cool as we could, creating two very different climates. As a result, I developed a cough during my stay there. And I would spit up phlegm with blood.

When I got back home, in the latter part of July, I went to the doctor. My first diagnosis was that I needed antibiotics and some cough syrup. And I will say, it did subside. But in October, it came back on me. I returned to the doctor, and he prescribed more antibiotics and cough syrup.

But I was not satisfied with that. So I went to my primary-care provider, and she sent me to Community Hospital for a CT scan. It showed that there was something in the lower lobe of my left lung.

After a second, more comprehensive scan, I was diagnosed with a 16-millimeter nodule on my left lung, which they determined was cancerous. A second scan at the veteran’s hospital in Palo Alto yielded the same exact diagnosis. I took that news very seriously and decided that I would fight it with everything available.

Anyone who has been diagnosed with cancer has every right to be concerned about his well-being. My wife has survived cancer three times, and I was determined to do so myself. I was scheduled for surgery to remove the cancer. On that morning, I awoke around 5, and a message came to me in just five words: "It shall not encumber you." That’s what I received. Those were the words, and that’s all it was. In that I got my confirmation and my inspiration.

I don’t mean to dwell on the message, but that’s exactly what happened. I had the surgery, and it was of a successful nature. I did not take chemotherapy, and I did not take radiation.

I am 81 years old, an octogenarian, and I am doing very well. I am a diabetic, and nurses from the Visiting Nurse Association come to my home to take care of me every other day. While they’re here, they check my chest and they tell me everything is going really well.

I tell you, there is nothing to do but to stay with it.