My father is a doctor. When I was growing up, he hoped I would follow in his steps, so he often shared stories about the wonders of his profession. Like the day when he cracked a case that had stumped other doctors for weeks. It turned out to be a parasite acquired in the South Pacific during World War II.

"The man had a dormant worm in his gut for over 50 years!" my dad exclaimed with a victorious smile. "Medicine is amazing."

A few nights later, however, he would point his index finger at me and declare in exhaustion, "Never become a doctor. You just stick your finger up peoples' rear ends all day."

Message received. I became a pastor.

When I was 18, my father learned what it was like to be on the receiving end of a latex glove. He was diagnosed with cancer. His type was very survivable if caught early—which could only be known through surgery.

I sat next to him in the waiting room before the operation. It was odd seeing him in a hospital ...

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