Struggle with Cancer
By Albert Gutierrez
Hello, my name is Albert Gutierrez. I started chanting on New Years of 1972. I became a member and accepted my Gohonzon on 2/26/72, one day after my birthday.
I have received tremendous benefits, such as a great job with aerospace industries, doing layouts, and designs as layout inspector, and doing top secret work.
I have many experiences, but I would like to share the most recent experience that I received a month ago.
A year and a half ago, I was working in a company and I was having health problems. I had an HMO and I went to see a doctor because I had internal bleeding. The doctor said that most likely I had hemorrhoids and prescribed many medications.
I visited the HMO about every month or so. Each time I saw a different doctor and had a different problem. A year later, my condition worsened.
I went to the Martin Luther King hospital and asked to see a gastrointestinal specialist. The doctor's office refused me because I didn't have a doctor's reference. They told me that I couldn't just see a doctor whenever I felt like it. I had to wait at least two months.
Nonetheless, they told me to sit in the waiting room. At that time I started chanting to be able to see a doctor. After half an hour, the nurse asked me what kind of problem I had. I told her and she said, "It must be your lucky day, because someone just canceled an appointment."
The doctor said that he would do a colonoscopy. They inserted a tube in my stomach and found a tumorous growth. They took biopsies and said to come back in ten days to find out if it was malignant.
When I went back, the doctor said the results were inconclusive, but that he was 99% sure that it was cancer. They made an appointment for May 17th. I spoke to my leaders about this. Their guidance was to chant three to four hours a day.
So, I started chanting three to four hours a day. Five days later, a doctor called me and told me that he had the results from the biopsy. He said that I needed exploratory surgery as soon as possible. Somehow, my daimoku paid off, because it takes most people three to five months before they can get surgery. He said that he would speak to his colleagues and urge them to speed the process for me.
A week later he told me to go in on a Tuesday at one o'clock for surgery. I went there with a lot of confidence. The doctor said that exploratory surgery was major surgery. There were many things that could go wrong. You could even die. The surgery is from the midsection to the bottom of the stomach. They would be checking all of my organs for cancer. He asked me to sign all of the paperwork.
I asked him if I could think about it or get a second opinion. He said that if I didn't get the surgery that I could be dead in less than six months. I was admitted that same day to the hospital. The next day, on May 23rd, two doctors performed the surgery. It was twelve hours long. I was constantly chanting.
I lost a lot of blood and was put in the trauma center. Two days later I was moved into intensive care. I was injected with morphine every three hours.
It was hard for me to chant. I got an infection. My surgery was ruptured and was bleeding internally again. I had a mild heart attack. My symptoms were out of control, to the point where I couldn't breathe anymore. This was during the night, when none of my doctors were there. I kept calling the nurses and they said I had to wait for the doctors to come in the morning. I didn't think that I was going to live to see the morning.
The next morning I was taken to the trauma center. They had to open the surgery and put a suction tube inside. I was given medicine for the heart problems. One surgeon said that I was going to have a colostomy bag put in. He said that it may be permanent and that I may be disabled for the rest of my life. At that time my lungs started to collapse and I had pneumonia. I couldn't breathe. He told me that I could die from this surgery because I was in such a fragile condition. Even though I was chanting, I was discouraged. I didn't want to go from being self-reliant to being disabled.
I signed the authorization form, even though I didn't want to.
The doctor said that he would first give me a CAT scan and then he would take me directly to the O.R. At that point I felt confused. I started asking the Buddhist gods why they weren't giving me protection.
I was given the CAT scan and then taken to the O.R. I was chanting the whole way there. One doctor stayed behind checking the CAT scan. The anesthetist took me to the O.R. He asked me what was wrong. I told him that I didn't want to go through with the surgery. He said that it would be okay and gave me a shot to relax me.
They tied me up to the surgery table. They put a clear mask over my face. I was still asking the Buddha gods for protection. I could still not believe that this was happening to me. I saw a clear mist coming into the tube. The anesthetist told me to relax and take a deep breath. I didn't take the breath; instead, I held my breath. At that moment, the other doctor came through the door and screamed to take that mask off my face.
She came to me and said, "Mr. Gutierrez, how do you feel.Ē I said, "I feel okay." She said, "We just got through checking your CAT scan and we found no rupture." I felt a great relief and thanked the Buddhist gods for the protection.
They kept me twelve more days at the trauma center. I had suctions coming from about every part of my body. I was in the hospital for thirty days without food or water. I lost sixty pounds.
During that time my son, daughter, and many SGI members from the menís and women's division visited me. When members came we would always do Gongyo. I was so weak I couldn't even get out of bed. Two days before I was discharged, Mr. George Williams, the vice president of the SGI came to visit me. He told me to read the Gosho on the Lotus Sutra. It was the same one that he had used when he had cancer.
The doctor released me because he said he couldn't afford me anymore. I had to go home to recover. I still had a wound that was six inches long and one inch thick. Sitting in front of the Gohonzon, I couldn't even raise my hands but I still chanted as much as possible. In a period of one week, I was able to walk by myself.
My wound closed quite a bit and I was able to put absorption pads on by myself.
I went back for a check-up and the doctor said that I would have to have six months of chemotherapy to completely wipe out the cancer. He told me to sit in the waiting room while he made appointments to set up the chemotherapy. Then the doctor told me that he had checked my records and I didn't need to have chemotherapy after all. There was a big smile on my face.
This has been an experience that I will never forget because it was as if I had gotten a second chance to live. I am fortunate to have had all of the members chanting for me, even though I was near death.
I'm back to normal now and I feel I have a mission to accomplish. I'm healthy. I feel good. Wherever I go, people ask me how I am and I tell them that, with the Gohonzon, I was able to change poison into medicine. Every morning when I chant, I pray for wisdom and confidence to propagate this Buddhism.
Everyday, I tell someone new about Nam Myoho-renge-kyo. Even though not everybody listens, I know that I am planting seeds of Buddhism.