Saturday, April 9, 2016

Prescription to Gladden the Heart

Well, sadly, all the new biopsies came back malignant. I haven't yet met with my oncologist, but I am fairly certain lumpectomy is out of the question. The good news is they can now schedule surgery. The other good news is that with a full mastectomy, at least the emotional stress of wondering if every new lump is cancer will be lessened.

However, I did drown in a few sorrowful moments. Only a few. Self-pity doesn't change anything. Now the prayers shift. I need clear lymph nodes and the cancer to not be too widespread, to avoid chemo and/or radiation. They won't know that till after the surgery.

I didn't have much time to digest the new information. Soon after the nurse called, it was time for my consult with the radiologist. I liked him even before meeting him because his name was so fun: Dr. Bobo. No one on earth could not like someone named Dr. Bobo.

Dr. Bobo was exceptionally nice (as are all the cancer care people I have met.) He asked me all the standard lifestyle questions. I am frankly the last person on earth who should get cancer based on my lifestyle. Thin, eats lots of healthy vegetables and not much meat, doesn't smoke, very active in daily aerobic exercise, drinks lots of water, avoids refined sugar...I told him I do drink a glass or two red wine with dinner, and that the internet seems to indicate this is even GOOD for breast health. If he suggested I should stop doing that however, I would. I awaited his condemnation.

The somber appointment just got fun.
He agreed! (Getting drunk is clearly not good...but a glass or two of red wine seems to have health benefits.) Of course, the internet is filled with opposing viewpoints, but most folks say the antioxidants and resveratrol in red wine is healthy, reduces inflammation, and boosts the immune system. Research has been done using rats. (My, what a fun study for the rats!) The researchers found that the rats that spent more time drinking red wine not only had healthier hearts and cardiovascular systems, but due to heightened relaxation refused to engage in the rat-race any longer. (This is just my educated guess of what the results were. You will have to read the research yourself to verify.)

Back to Dr. Bobo and my radiology consult.

We launched into a half hour discussion of fine wine vs. cheap wine. I told him I only buy cheap boxed wine. He told me that the boxed wine doesn't oxidize and that makes it last longer than bottled wine...however....

Recently he traveled to Italy, and went on wine tours. He said he is no connoisseur or expert but he learned Italian wines are head and shoulders above American wines. Upon tasting fine red Italian wines, he concluded they are a whole different breed than any American wine. They use less chemicals and additives, letting them age naturally. In his opinion, that added to their incredible smooth flavor, with no aftertaste or burn.

"Hmmm," I said, "So a fine Italian wine with less chemicals might be healthier for a cancer patient?"
"Maybe," he agreed.
"Could you write me a prescription?" (I wonder if insurance will cover it...)

Interspersed in our wine discussion, he did tell me about what to expect with radiation, and it sounds like radiation would be WAY better than chemo in terms of the misery index. I also learned that if the cancer is not too large, and the lymph nodes are clear, I may not need chemo or radiation! So that is my prayer now.

The nurse asked me how I was handling everything.
"Well," I said, "God is still in heaven, and it could always be worse." She nodded.

I left the appointment chuckling over how much time Dr. Bobo had spent with me discussing fine wine. I don't want radiation ( or chemo...or honestly ANY of this) but if I must have it, I am glad I will be seeing Dr. Bobo. He made me feel like a regular person...not just a cancer patient. And when I am finished with this race I am running, I intend to get a bottle of fine, Italian Merlot to celebrate. After all, the doctor is prescribing it.

From there, I went on to teach my art class of nursing home residents. I had the biggest class yet! I taught them to draw a daffodil, and overheard one of the nurses say, "She's a REAL teacher. Look at how good those pictures are!"

That made me very happy, as did the smiles on all the residents faces. The picture above is by one of the residents with Alzheimers. She struggles to speak a coherent sentence, but look at her beautiful drawing! Life may not be fair, but there are always pockets of joy. Always.

After I cleaned up, and started out the door, I wondered if I had overdone it so soon after the brutal day of biopsies. Weary. Sore. The elevator opened to the maintenance man. He reached out his hand, to shake mine.

"I just had to meet you and thank you," he said. "All the residents came down with their art work, and they were all laughing and showing their pictures off to everyone. They were so happy and excited. You did a good thing."

Suddenly, I didn't feel so tired anymore. I cannot change the cancer, but I can change who I am as I go through the cancer. (And if I can't, God can.) Every one of the residents in that nursing home would prefer not to be there, and most have significant health issues. But all of them were smiling as they drew the daffodil.

Philippians 2: 1-4, reminds us that Christ is a comfort, an encouragement, and a source of joy, but that is completed when we look to bless and help others. This is true whether I am in perfect health, or struggling with a terrible disease. The joy of the Lord is my strength, and His love is meant to be flung far and wide to all I come near.

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, ...


 1 Timothy 5:23 

No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.

And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,

Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.

Give strong drink to the one who is perishing, and wine to those in bitter distress;

And wine to gladden the heart of man, oil to make his face shine and bread to strengthen man's heart.

On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.


  1. You bless my heart, Vicky, with your life of serving others, your talent, and now your courage. I'll be praying for you and learning from you during this time in your life. I have two friends, one of whom had a radical mastectomy this past week (Janet) and one still going through the decision-making process you're facing (Judy). My sister (Mary) faced breast cancer this past year, and "escaped" with a lumpectomy and a few weeks of radiation. Blessings to you, Vicky. Nahum 1:7.

  2. I forgot to mention that I ordered Joe, The Horse Nobody Loved. We have horses, and I know our family will enjoy reading about this one.

    1. Thank you so much! I hope you enjoy it. If you do please write a review. Reviews help a lot.