Recently I underwent a surgical procedure for skin cancer called Moh’s. My first thought was, “That’s the name of a hardness classification for rocks and minerals!” True, but trust me it is not what my surgery involved. Moh’s is microscopically controlled cancer surgery developed in 1938 by a general surgeon by the name of Frederic E. Moh and is known in the medical world as CCPDMA: Complete Circumferential Peripheral and Deep Marginal Assessment.
It is a fascinating technique (more for the doctor than the patient). First, a skilled physician removes layers of tissue in the area deemed to be cancerous.( Ah, I thought, that is the connection to rocks and minerals, this doctor is on a “dig.”) Immediately, a cross section of the tissue is stained and made into a slide. A highly trained histologist (cell specialist) then examines the slide under a powerful microscope looking for cancer cells. By repeatedly removing layers of tissue and creating and examining slides, the doctor is able to determine when no more cancer cells are present. Samples of tissue are classified as “ positive” or “negative.” A positive sample means cancer cells are present, and more tissue must be removed until all the margins are declared free of cancer cells, and then the slide is labeled negative.
Mind you, just for the record, this procedure is done under local anesthetic so the patient is fully aware of what is going on, and the site has to be re-anesthetized with each additional tissue removal. In the event of a major bleed, said patient is also aware of that! My doctor was expecting a quick shallow resolution, but it turned out to be a 5.5 hour CCPDMA. This was not at the top of my list of fun things to do this summer…just saying.
Naturally I requested copies of the slides. The Histologist kindly came in and briefed me on everything.—after all it is not every day a crazy science teacher comes into her world and genuinely appreciates what she is doing. The picture above is an actual slide of tissue taken from my site. I think it is stunning. The detail is simply incredible. We truly are fearfully and wonderfully made. The very dark blue cell on the lower right is especially beautiful. As I examined the slide, the histologist pointed to my “ beautiful blue cell. “It’s pretty isn’t it?” Then she said, “That is the cancer cell!”
My mouth dropped open. “Yes! It is BEAUTIFUL, but, it is DEADLY” I replied.
Wow! Right there in that slide is a powerful lesson for all of us!
From teaching Biology, I understand to a certain extent how that deadly cell showed up in my skin, but the details of cancer cell reproduction are beyond the scope of this blog. Suffice it to say that for years these cells went undetected deep within my tissue. When a surface symptom revealed an abnormality, only a harsh treatment removed the deadly disease from my body.
Sin is just like that cell. It festers deep inside our souls, and only the harsh death of Christ on the cross can cleanse us from it: “In Him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses…” (Ephesians 1:7). We have to come to the great Physician and ask him to remove our sin by His blood, shed on the cross. Once we have been saved from eternal death, we each need a daily check up to see if there are sins trying to take root and lead us away from our Savior. That is no more comfortable than my surgery. Sin may appear BEAUTIFUL, but make no mistake—it is DEADLY. Once allowed into our lives, it takes hold and grows roots deep into the core of our being. If we do not take action and allow Christ to cut out the cancer of sin, the disease will spread. As my Pastor, Johnny Hunt, says,
“Sin will take you where you do not want to go and keep you longer than you want to stay”
“There is a way that seems right to man, but it ends in death. (Proverbs 14:12)
The night after surgery when sleep eluded me, I definitely spent time praying and asking God what spiritual surgery He still needs to do in my life. Are there deep rooted areas that need to be removed? (Only pray that if you mean it, because He will put His finger into hidden corners.) I invite you to ponder this seriously.
Take another look at the beautiful blue cell. It spells death. It had to go before it was too late. I am so thankful for the surgery (although it was not fun) because that EVIL is no longer in my body. However, I am even more thankful that Jesus paid the price for my sin and removed a far worse penalty for me. Now I can focus on living every day for Him. How about you?