Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Behold, I Will Bring Health and Healing: Phase One of Cancer Journey Ending

It is getting real. The first phase of my cancer journey (waiting) is coming to an end. I went for my pre-op appointment and found myself in a crowded parking garage. I was overwhelmed by how many sick people must be in this hospital based on how hard it was to find a place to park. I had to go up several levels to find parking. Then, I got lost trying to find the main entrance of the hospital. I had to ask several people for directions. I ended up going up or down three different elevators. I wended my way down a convoluted path following signs to the main lobby.

At one point, I ended up in a spooky basement with two doctors engaged in muffled consultation. I mumbled an apology and scurried back into the elevator. Finally, I found the pre-op room. No one in that room looked happy. Including me.

I settled into my seat and began reading the bible on my phone. I turned to psalm 143 which happened to be perfect. Oh Lord hear my plea, listen to my cry for mercy.

The receptionist gave me a form to fill out which made me nervous. Something about listing all the things that are wrong with you or your family makes you think about your mortality. As I checked in, feeling increasingly jittery,, the receptionist asked me how much I would be paying today. I hadn't planned to pay anything. We are considered self-pay, though we belong to a Christian share pay group, and they would cover everything.

“How much do I have to pay?” I asked, worried that I would have to leave them my car as collateral and thumb my way home.
“Whatever you want,” she answered. Really? That is almost beyond unbelievable. Blessing #1.
“How's $40?”
I paid, grateful they wouldn't require my non-cancerous breast as liquidity to pay for the mastectomy hospital bill. I asked the receptionist if there was an easy way back to the parking garage after I was done with my appointment.  I explained how hopelessly lost I had been finding my way there.

Despite a busy room full of people, she smiled and said, “Let me show you.” She led me outside and pointed out a much simpler route. I was much heartened, not only by a simpler trek back, but by her simple act of kindness making me feel like I was not just a faceless number on a roster. Blessing #2.

Finally I was called back for my pre-op barrage of tests and questions. To begin, a nurse took my blood pressure. 148/80.
“What! That's really high for me!”
“Would you like me to take it again?”
“Why not?” I quietly tried to think tranquil thoughts while wondering if I would have a stroke then and there from high blood pressure.
She took it a second time. “126/70.”
That's more like it! Blessing #3.

So all I'd needed was a do-over!  I'd like a do-over on this whole cancer diagnosis while we are at it.

Next on the agenda, the nurse who was responsible for my vital signs weighed me, told me I had an excellent BMI (body mass index) and marched me to the next room. Here, a nurse hooked me up to a bunch of electrodes to do a resting EKG.

"I've never had an EKG before," I said, as she pasted electrodes all over me.
"Really? Well you are pretty young."
No, I am not. Still. It was nice of her to lie.
"Nice," said the nurse, reading my EKG results.
Blessing #4.

Now the anesthesiologist came in. I had a passel of questions for him. I am very sensitive to drugs, all drugs. Would I die from the anesthesiology? Probably not. He made notes of my concerns, and explained how careful they would be.

Then he explained the process. "When you arrive, we will give you a sedative. It will be like having a few glasses of wine but without the hangover." (Blessing #5, and #6....maybe even #7.)
"That sounds GREAT," I said, perking up. Maybe this operation was not all bad.
After that, I go to sleep. He assured me they monitor me carefully, and can handle any emergency.

The anesthesiologist left, and in came the surgical nurse. She went over all the meds, vitamins, allergies in my life and told me which to stop until after surgery. Then she asked if I had any questions. I DID have one big nagging, haunting question...and felt stupid voicing it. But I must voice it. So I did.

"Will they start cutting off my breast without seeing if the cancer is still there?" What if God works a miracle and removes the cancer? Friends, I want you to know I am not counting on this, but I won't discount it either.

No. First they will inject a dye, once I am asleep in lala land, and they will determine the size and extent of the cancer. Then, and only then do they begin whacking. If God works a miracle, they will scratch their heads, wake me up, and say, "Our bad. You can get dressed and go home."

A world of peace overcame me. Now I can enter surgery without fear. Blessing #8.

On to the lab nurse for my blood work.
"We are going to check your hemoglobin now," said the nurse.
"Do you know what hemoglobin is?"
"My blood."
"What part?"
"My red blood cells."
"Wow!!! Very good! And do you know what we are checking for?"
"Oxygen levels I think."
"You are very smart!!! And who do you think cares about that?"
"The anesthesiologist?"
"Are you in the medical field?" The nurse squinted at me.
I felt like a star. Blessing #9.

As I left, I realized I was no longer afraid. I still would MUCH rather not have cancer, but there are really competent, nice people who seem to really care watching over me. And most importantly, God is watching over me.

This morning, the oncologist who will do all the follow-up care called me. She is very into an "integrative" approach which focuses on life style and nutritional support to reduce cancer reoccurance (yay!). I mentioned I had a strong faith, and that was what was sustaining me. She also told me that based on what she could tell thus far from all my tests, it was a "low grade cancer" (OH PRAISE GOD, that is the first I have heard this!) and that chemo was NOT at all a definite.

Pray friends that it is not in the lymph and that the tumors are indeed as small as they think!

 As our conversation came to a conclusion, she said, "You said you were a woman of faith?"
"Well, I just want you to know I am praying for you."

Lord, thank you for your gifts! Eternal blessings.


Jeremiah 17:14 

Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved, for you are my praise.

Behold, I will bring to it health and healing, and I will heal them and reveal to them abundance of prosperity and security.

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.

But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,


  1. You are wonderful woman of faith. A prayer warrior. Defender of the weak, you care for 'widows and orphans'...your love for God knows no bounds! I'm still praying for a miracle. God is working many physical miracles all over the world, many for Muslims. We in the Western world,mostly don't see Him as the same unchanging God who works miracles...His ways are not our ways nor a His thoughts our thoughts. And He does as He chooses. I know this. Praying for you and thanking God for who you are and what you do. I love you, Vicky.

  2. Praying without ceasing for your healing and for God's continued peace.