An X-ray of a twisted shoulder that didn’t heal fast.
Primary Care Physician Dr. E called, left a message, saying “You should come in and see me ASAP about your X-ray.”
Appointment next day.
We walk in, and the receptionist says “Have a seat and Dr. C (not the PCP but the husband of the PCP) will see you shortly.” “But we’re here to see Dr. E. Not Dr. C.” Yes, Dr. C will see you shortly.” Sideways glances and questions flying between us…Nurse aid calls our name…Dr. C comes in. “We see a spot in your lung that has me worried. I’m referring you to a pulmonary specialist.”
Next day, Dr. M says “I want you to have a biopsy.”
Two days later, she has a biopsy.
Two more days, and back to Dr. M. “The biopsy came back. You have cancer.” Very sullen face, very wooden expression. This doctor is worried. “I’m going to refer you to a pulmonary surgeon, who will take care of you from here. But first you need a CT Scan”
Next day, we go for the CT scan, the next day, Dr. A’s appointment (pulmonery surgeon). “I’ve seen the X-ray, the biopsy report, and the CT scan, we need you in for surgery ASAP. I can do your surgery next week. Here’s your instructions for preparation.” “What are our options, Dr. A? We’re set to fly to Asia in a month for a major family reunion. Can we postpone till after that?” “Do you realize how serious this is? If you wait, you’ll need to go through all these tests again, and the cancer may have grown. Right now, we’re looking at removing 1/3 to 1/2 of your lung. If we wait, you may lose the whole lung. If surgery goes well, I will clear you to travel.”
Resigned, we prepare to tell the kids.
Appointment with priest for annointing, notification to employers that we won’t be available for a while. Personal turmoil and lots of prayer…
Thursday morning, 6 am, hospital. Mother, daughter, me, on our knees in the hospital chapel. Praying for a successful outcome if it be Your Will, O Lord! Called for surgery. Watching helpless as she gets wheeled down the hallway…
So helpless…Daughter and I go back to the chapel, pray a while longer, then go to the waiting room. Dr. A came out four hours later. “We feel confident we got it all. It was growing. It was a good thing she didn’t wait. I removed half her lung. Let’s see how well she recovers.”
We spent 5 nights in the hospital. I was allowed to stay with her. I left only for a shower, Mass, and to bring home-cooked food in when she could eat. I slept by her side in ICU. When they put her into a room after two nights in ICU, I slept on the single hospital bed (her request) with one foot on the floor, and helping her to go to the bathroom. Every day was a little agony as they removed this tube or that one from her. The scar is about 8 inches long. She has another from the incision where they inserted the suction tubes. After 5 days she was allowed to come home. Every little bump in the road hurt her. But we made it home, sweet home. Made a bed for her in the living room on the sofa, and I slept in the chair next to her. As she progressed we moved to the bedroom.
Finally, we saw the pulmonary specialist (after our trip to Asia-yes we made it-although the trip to and from was painful), and got a full release-no chemo, no radiation treatment. We got the cancer early, thanks be to God.
Three and a half years later, her ribs still hurt where they spread them open. She still has shortness of breath. But we’re alive, much better together than we ever were before this trauma, and the one before that (which was my burden on our marriage).
God works in mysterious ways. We may not always see the how, or the why. We may never see it, until we meet our maker. But we know this:
… that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now; and not only that, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, we also groan within ourselves as we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in hope we were saved. Now hope that sees for itself is not hope. For who hopes for what one sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait with endurance. In the same way, the Spirit too comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit itself intercedes with inexpressible groanings. And the one who searches hearts knows what is the intention of the Spirit, because it intercedes for the holy ones according to God’s will. We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. For those he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, so that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined he also called; and those he called he also justified; and those he justified he also glorified. What then shall we say to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but handed him over for us all, how will he not also give us everything else along with him? Romans 8:22-32