Tag Archives: Patient

Recovery from Cancer. Diagnosis #3. Age 31 Years Old

The years 2001-2007 were not dramatic for my health. I was in college until 2003 and applied to be a part of the St. Jude Children Research Hospital professional oncology education program. Being in an environment where the fear of cancer had built up over the years, made me unable to perform at the level I should have performed. Physical recovery had been such an issue that I had not dealt with my emotional recovery.

I continued to have surgeries for lumps in 2001 and 2002. By choice, I avoided the doctor in 2003 because of a strong desire to become a mother. In the ten months between my son’s birth and my daughter’s conception, I underwent a mammogram and some testing but no surgeries. While pregnant with my daughter, I found an operating report note from 2002 that had somehow escaped my notice. The report was very interesting.

The cause of my many cysts/lumps/tumors was never explained to me as I am unsure anyone knew what was the cause. A genetic test was suggested before I left St. Jude hospital but because I was no longer a child and in their age range it was not done. The alumni doctor told me she would get back to me with an appointment to see a geneticist at another hospital and for almost two years I kept emailing and asking her to help. I eventually gave up and moved on with life and my kids then I found this report from that time period in 2005.

Whoever wrote the report knew genetic conditions very well. It was suggested that if I had colon polyps, and I did, (St. Jude hospital knew I had colon polyps) then a diagnosis of Cowden Syndrome needed to be entertained. I will be fair in saying my doctors at St. Jude hospital asked if there was a family history of people like me and there was not. Cowden Syndrome can be spontaneous as can any genetic condition. A genetic test should have been done.

When I read the word Cowden Syndrome, I went to the Internet. I am not a very good writer so it is difficult for me to put into words what I felt when I looked at the symptoms and almost every one of them fit me perfectly. For years, I had felt like a freak and an outcast. I thought I was the only person in the world who grew lumps and bumps like I do. At the time I learned about Cowden Syndrome, a support group existed and it was wonderful speaking with people who were just like me.

I immediately went in search for a doctor to refer me to a geneticist. The problem with being a patient at one of the most renowned medical hospitals in the world is that it isn’t believed they can make mistakes. One doctor claimed there was no way I had all those problems and had never been genetically tested. Another doctor thought that because I did not have the mental retardation component that is sometimes but not always seen, I could not have the condition. The third doctor listened to me and whether he believed I had been genetically tested previously was not something he mentioned. He set it up for the referral department to find me an appointment and be checked out. I demanded it because I then had two children who were nothing more than babies and had 50-50 odds of having my same problems. After a few month period, the lady in the referral department finally made an appointment with the only adult geneticist in the state. It took almost two years to get in to see him.

My son had an appointment with a geneticist before I did. The geneticist was in the same town mine was and said there was no reason to test my little boy until I was tested and I agreed. He decided to do a cheek swab on me so that eight weeks later when I finally met my geneticist the answer would be in.

At the age of 28, I began having bumps come up on my face and when the geneticist entered the room he looked fascinated at the bumps (these are a part of Cowden Syndrome). After seeing them and my thyroid scars he said he didn’t have to look at the report from the pathology because he knew it would show positive. He asked me how the doctors at St. Jude hospital could possibly have missed it. I did not give my opinion then or now and I will not. I am thankful for the chemotherapy that saved my life and I do not expect perfection but yes, there is some upset in my thoughts on this especially since I now have children who could have this same condition.

My geneticist went to retrieve the test results. He brought the paper into the room and I saw all kinds of conditions listed in black that had the words neg. for negative out beside them. One of the conditions was in red and it was the one we both knew would be positive. I had the PTEN mutation in Cowden Syndrome. My cell overgrowth was caused from there not being enough of the protein that controls cell death.

Learning what I suspected was the truth brought the strangest emotions. I felt grief because prior to this point I had hope cancer would no longer be a part of my life but then knew it likely would be (I just did not understand how soon), confusion because it could have been caught years before as a test was available when I was within St Jude hospital’s patient age limits, and happiness. I no longer felt quite as much like a monster. Only one in 250,000 people have Cowden Syndrome but others do have it.

When the test came back positive for Cowden’s, I elected to have a bilateral mastectomy. My odds of breast cancer were 35-50 percent for the rest of my life due to atypical hyperplasia in 2001 and now Cowden Syndrome. Though my mammogram looked normal (for me), I knew cancer cells could hide. I was very afraid because within the two years previously, I had began to be able to secrete blood from one nipple. Because it could never be done in office, I was dismissed and told to come back when it could. I felt the need to have surgery to clear out what was in there because a part of me just knew.

Surgery was scheduled for February 28, 2008. The last thing I said to my husband was, “what if something is hiding in there?” One week later while still at home attached to drainage tubes, my doctor called to tell me we made the right decision because early cancer cells were found in pathology.

Emotionally this was a huge setback for me that I have yet to recover from. For so many years, I had been afraid to live life in fear of the dysgerminoma coming back. I accepted it being gone and had a family and a life. Physically the surgery was the most painful I have experienced. I cannot compare it with childbirth because my labor with Owen stalled at 4 cm and Hannah was a planned C-section but I can compare it with Pitocin induced contractions up until that point and it hurt worse. The drains caused a constant burning sensation and the skin stretchers having been placed inside open wounds were a nightmare. These contraptions were so tight I could not breathe and morphine did not begin to cover the pain. The first two nights following the mastectomy I wanted to die because I could not imagine a pain any worse than that and at least it would be over with quickly.

Treatment for ductal carcinoma in situ (my diagnosis that is also known as DCIS) is a mastectomy. Some doctors treat with chemotherapy, especially when the grade is a 3-the most abnormal looking cells and closest to the invasive ones. Grade 1 means cells look abnormal but are closer to looking like normal cells. I had grades 1-3 with 2 being the most dominant. All grades were throughout both breasts at 60 percent and 70 percent.

Reconstruction was painful. It took three weeks for me to have an injection of saline into the skin stretchers because I had to keep the drains that long, Each injection felt as if it broke the incisions open again. I was happy going from my previous DDD cup to a B cup especially knowing the nipples we tried to save in my mastectomy had cancer cells in them. I was ready for implants and to be rid of all cancer cells.

Waking up from the mastectomy, I was protected somewhat from the psychological effect of no nipples or breasts. I had small mounds that were the skin stretchers. The implant surgery caused a relief of the physical pain from the stretchers but the emotional pain became uncontrollable. The loss of my nipples and gain of red gashes across my breasts was almost too much to bear. I felt like a monster. My medical coverage will not pay for nipples so I continue to adjust to my new body. It is difficult to be so reminded of mortality more of less constantly.

Physical recovery has been bizarre. I continue to have phantom pains throughout my breasts at times. The effect of the loss of breast tissue from under my arms took a lot of adapting to because it feels like I have nothing but deep pits there now. Dimpling and scarring were both complications of the surgery but due to my medical coverage, I cannot have it repaired. After almost two years, I finally feel fine physically on most days in regard to pain in my breasts but the emotional recovery has been hell.

A Cancer Tale

I am a survivor of that killer disease, cancer. Though not nearly as much a “survivor” as many others who’ve been ravaged by such a heart-rendering, destroying beast.

Thirty years ago, while I was working on my bachelor’s degree at a small Texas college in the Big Bend of Texas (Sul Ross State College), my wife (at the time), Lucy, also a student, had a bad case of the flu (t’weren’t no flu shots back then). So we were visiting the college’s infirmary. The college’s doctor (so many years ago I just can’t recall his name) casually noticed a dime-sized lump on my left wrist where I normally wore my wrist watch.

“Doc” looked at it, rubbing it gently with his thumb and said, “When you bring Lucy back next week I want to look at it again.

Thinking little of it, I dropped Lucy off at our little college apartment and back to the college to run a printing press as one of my part-time jobs to supplement my GI Bill income.

Next week I took Lucy back to the infirmary. The lump on my wrist had grown to the size of a quarter. “I want to do a biopsy,’ Doc said. I had no idea what he was talking about, asking my new wife, “What’s a biopsy?” as we headed for classes. At 26 I’d never had a need for a doctor (other than childhood mumps) and knew virtually nothing about cancer or any other ailment that “old folks get.”

A week later, the lump had grown to almost the size of a half-dollar. By the time Doc had sliced out a piece of the lump using a local anesthetic (I watched with fascination as he removed a small piece of the lump, grayish matter and a lot of blood, but felt nothing but giddy).

I wish I could remember his name. I can see his face, even today, mindful of some Normal Rockwell painting of a family doctor. I only remember that he did needlework to keep his fingers nimble, and had framed needlework all over his office.

A few days later, at around 5 a.m., Doc’s wife was pounding on our apartment door urging us to “get up, get dressed, and go see Doc.”

Bleary-eyed and confused, we dressed, jumped into the car and found Doc at the infirmary. “The biopsy came back,” he said. “The report is that you have a cancer called fibrosarcoma, We need to get you to a cancer hospital as quickly as possible. There are two,” he said, the Mayo Clinic in Rochester and MD Anderson, in Houston. I’ll call and make all of the arrangements. Which one do you want to go to?

Alpine, Texas, where the college is located, is a long-mile from nowhere, so I chose MD Anderson, in Houston, thinking that at the very least, it’ll still be in Texas. “Good! Go home. Pack. And hit the road,” he said. This was on a Thursday. I’ll schedule you for intake Monday morning.”

Driving from Alpine to Menard (my home town and the residence of my parents and Lucy’s parents) is 300 miles. From Menard to Houston is 350 miles, so we had a 650 mile trip to make in four days. As students we barely had enough money for gas to reach Menard. I called my parents and they agreed to loan me $1,000 (“just in case”).

From Menard to Houston we made it Sunday evening after a couple of stops for watermelon … Lucy was pregnant with our first child and she craved watermelon… to my sister’s home in Houston. She was a stay-at-home mom with a young child. Jay, her husband, was a Coastguardsman.

Monday morning we gathered what I thought I’d need “for a couple of days at the hospital” … little did we know how long it was actually going to be.

By the end of the week I’d been through two surgeries. One to remove the cancer, and another a “prefusion” of mustard and nitrogen gas on my left arm. The process, I think, is still being used today, but it was “new stuff” back then. The process, basically, is to isolate my arm from the rest of my body with a heart-lung machine and pumping the mustard-nitrogen mixture through my blood vessels to “kill” any malignant tumor still possibly in my arm.

It was an amazing experience for me. I had an anesthesiologist from England, a Japanese doctor, a doctor from Tennessee, nurses from Mexico, Texas, Colorado, and New York.

I had many room mates during the three months stay at MD Anderson. An older woman (at least she was “old” to me at the time, probably about 50), with lung cancer who smoked constantly when she wasn’t in her bed (there were smoking areas at the hospital back then), and a young man, a truck driver, with a lump the size of a football on his leg. And his young wife. He’d been treated at the Hoxsey Clinic in Dallas (an alternative medicine clinic that treated cancer patients with herbs and such). The young couple has spent all they had on Hoxsey treatments, he lost their house, his truck, and now was losing his life.

I read, played checkers, and had numerous visits from my wife, Lucy, my sister and brother-in-law, and roamed the halls of the hospital bored to tears wearing a plaster cast from my chest to my left shoulder and down to my finger tips. My left arm was plaster-frozen in a perpetual semi-salute, but above my head. But, as hard as I’ve tried to remember, I don’t remember any pain, just boredom.

After about thee months I was given an out-patient status, having to stay with my sister’s family and returning to the hospital once a day for observation and consultation. That was miserable for me, for Lucy, and for my sister’s family. There was only one bed available for the two of us in her home, a single-wide bed on which both Lucy and I would sleep at night.

For the first few nights I’d roll over and conk Lucy with my hard plaster cast, but we finally worked out a system so she didn’t get beat to death. And because it was so difficult for me to dress myself in regular clothes, Lucy bought me a brand new red swim suit I could wear around the house. And that was a total disaster! Without thinking, Joanna, my sister, washed the bright red swim trunks in with her husband’s snow white Coast Guard uniforms. They came out pink! Would you believe a Coast Guardsman in a pink uniform?

After about a month of that the cast was removed and I was free to go home!

When we first arrived back at Sul Ross I was amazed at the number of faculty (and some students) who’d heard of my cancer. There was virtually mass hysteria as they went to get checkups for possible “cancer” afflictions. Thankfully, none showed up “diseased.”

Also, thankfully, the college gave me a reprieve form my course’s finals, except for my public speaking class. I’ve always been deadly afraid of speaking in public, so with a squeaky, chattering voice my final was a speech about my “cancer.” I passed. I know not how, but I passed.

After graduation I took a job teaching at a high school in Winters, Texas, and for the next five years traveled to Houston twice a year for a check up, then for another five years once a year. From Winters to Houston is a long 380 miles. And at a teacher’s salary of only a little over $3,000 a year, the trips were costly. I made twenty 12-hour trips to Houston by bus reading and sleeping.

On my first bus trip to MD Anderson, I didn’t have enough money for a hotel room nor money for a taxi so I had to take a bus that put me in Houston at about 3 a.m., walking the ten miles from the bus station to the hospital and walking back to catch a bus back to Winters. That was the last time I’d ever try that. From that day forward I swore to save enough money without having to walk that ten miles at each visit..

I read a lot on those trips. The two I most remember was The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, by William Shirer, a 600 page tome, and The Story of Philosophy by Will Durant.

After ten years of poking and prodding, I was declared “90% cured,” and sent home for good.

The cost for those years of care? A few pints of blood thankfully donated by friends of my sister. And that was it.

Not another reoccurrence. At least not on my wrist. I was again diagnosed with a small cancer on the left side of my right eye about five years ago. It was removed in Columbia and I’ve had no occurrences since.

Perhaps the strange part about all of this is that I not once was frightened by the cancer nor concerned that I wouldn’t be “okay”. It just seemed to be an “is” and a “was.”

Doctors and hospitals come and go, I guess, but memories remain. MD Anderson and its wonderful nurses and doctors and all of the other staff will, forever, be a part of me.

But I was one of the lucky ones.

How I Have Survived Cancer for Over 20 Years

Quite a few folks have asked me to elaborate on something I’ve only mentioned in passing in a spot here and there around the site. I’ve put off doing so because my hard-core views on the subject of the Big C tend to cause constipated expressions on people’s faces as they decide whether or not to agree, or get very defensive with me. Some wish to immediately give me my Comeuppance.

This article is on my views. I am not a medical doctor. What works for me may not work for you. If you sue me over this, all you will likely end up with is a cute puppy that pees on the carpet. I’m guessing you’d rather have the Cancer.

Warning: Some of this is pretty graphic

When my 26 year old daughter was 5, I stayed up all night one night. Not that I wanted too, but I didn’t want blood all over my new satin sheets and it just would not stop… I went through an entire 40 count box of super tampons that night. Come morning I was to the point of passing out from blood loss. This was not menstruation. This was hemorrhaging.

Once at the to-capacity ER, they immediately took me back in a wheel chair and plopped me on a table. The resident on duty managed to stop the flow, but completely misdiagnosed me… as usual. My life is a series of misdiagnosis. He said it was a tubular pregnancy gone awry. I said oh hmm at least it ain’t Cancer then. heh. A week later the phone calls started. Bad Pap smear results. So I went in for another Pap. This one was even worse. Things were progressing rapidly.

Aug 6-ish, 1986 I had a cone biopsy in the hospital. This is where they remove your cervix and send it for biopsy. They wheeled me in the next morning and removed my uterus. Now, this was quite awhile ago. Vaginal hysterectomies were a new procedure, and this was the first time my doctor had ever performed one. I was never in my life, nor since, in as much pain as I was that day after surgery. It felt like they just reached up in there and yanked, which is what she later said she basically did. Morphine brought the pain to the level that I could finally scream, if that tells ya anything. I seriously wanted to die right then and there to end that pain. That surgery was a fiasco in my eyes, and helped set the stage for my stance on future cancer care.

So, after enduring that mess…. at my 6 week check up she said she needed to take my ovaries, that the cancer had spread. Well folks, I was not about to let them touch me again. No way no how. That memory was one I absolutely was not going to relive for any reason. The Cancer was not near as scary to me as that pain was. She told me it wouldn’t be like that. I say they lie daily and I wasn’t havin’ none of it. I also refused Chemo. She said that without further medical intervention, I had 2 years to live tops. I said fine, I’ll make them 2 good years then..told her to piss off and I left. I did not go back.

In fact, I didn’t see another doctor until about 7 years ago when I had too… was kinda doubled over a bit you see. I even put that off til I could barely walk. By the time I got into surgery my appendix was on the verge of exploding. oops. That’s the extent to which I despise and mistrust the medical community though. I think for the most part they are a bunch of self-righteous fornicating flim-flam men (or women.) Here it is 21 years later and I’m still alive. The cancer went away. Why? Because I believed 100% that it would. Yes, it really is that simple.

Now, the majority of folks have been lead to believe that Cancer kills. They have been lead to believe this by MDs. They scare you to death into procedures that mostly make things worse. The main cause of deaths in my family is suicide because of Cancer, and Chemo. The two relatives who shunned Chemo and refused to be afraid are still alive. The many who listened and became terrified are all dead. Do some folks live after chemo? Sure they do… but I believe they do so in spite of Chemo, not because of it… and I think they would have most definitely lived without it too, only without the pain, nausea and hair loss.

One of the men I was able to meet and study in college was Norm Sheeley of the Sheeley Institute. He is all about pain management, but he also has very strong feelings on Cancer. He goes so far as to believe that if you die from cancer, you have committed suicide via cancer. It is his feeling that there is no good reason for anyone to let themselves succumb. I agree to a point. We can heal it ourselves, but the folks who die from it do so because of being misinformed. They die because they don’t know any better, not because they really want to die.

Five years ago they told me I had about 6 months to live due to Colon Cancer. I was not about to walk around wit one of those bags on my hip, and we’ve already established how anti-chemo I am. Again I walked out. Again, here I still sit annoying the general medical population with my refusal to just keel over.

Four years ago I went through a stereo-tactic core biopsy for breast cancer. I’ll never do that again. This supposed 10 minute procedure lasted over 3 hours. Three excruciating hours of having my tit in a vice while a needle dug around inside my breast. I never went back to those doctors.

Three years ago an MD told me I have Lupus. A second opinion said no, it’s Rheumatoid Arthritis. I went to a third MD for a tie-breaker diagnosis. Guess what the third guy said. Go ahead… You have neither Lupus or RA. you have cancer somewhere which is causing all of these symptoms. He looked quite confused when I burst out laughing.

Now, I’m going through it again. Am I upset? Oh hell no. To me, Cancer is a minor annoyance at best. But the American MDs are, once again, acting all hystrionic because I won’t just jump up on their little OR table immediately. This time I am going to let them remove my ovaries. Does this make me a hypocrite? Nope. This time it’s causing severe abdominal distension. I look like I’m freakin 7 months pregnant. I already resemble a trailer park Sleaze-bag because I can’t wear my dentures over other health issues… I don’t need all this extra baggage too. heh. So yeah, they can have it so the distension will go away. I have no need of my ovaries now anyway. Insemination has long been a sport rather than functional anyway. I certainly have no use for those eggs.

So yes, maybe they can operate this time, but not because I fear the Cancer, but because I hate the look. It really doesn’t go well with my outfits. But Chemo? Nope. They can cut and then get the hell out. End of that story. Hell, I’m not sure I even believe I have what they say I have, I just want the weight loss benefit. I am awaiting an appointment with Swedish doctors first, though. The US was at 36th place on the Infant Mortality Rates list in 2002 (a huge factor in determining health care quality..) They have now dropped to 57th. I do not trust US doctors at all. Sweden is ranked the second highest in the World. We’ll see what they say.

Now I know that my feelings are polar opposite of the majority. I’ve never much cared what the majority thinks on anything. Mainly I find a majority is only such because of sheep mentality anyway. Perhaps I’ll build a statue in the front yard… a big ol’ sheep with an American Flag painted on it. Oh wouldn’t the neighbors love that!

I figure that this article will make quite a few people angry. I’m indifferent to that. I’m sorry, but I am. You fear cancer? fine… fear it. I refuse to. When I have it, I change my eating habits. I find that I crave artichokes mainly, but also broccoli and brussle sprouts. They say it helps fight cancer… I just know I love them and it can’t hurt… but also that my body craves them. Listen to your body, it knows what it needs and will tell you if you pay attention.

Moderate exercise helps too. The main thing though is attitude. You must believe completely that your body is capable of healing itself. You must trust it to do so. This means bucking the entire medical community and everything you were brought up to believe.

I’m not telling anyone to drop all their doctors. I’m telling you MY experience. Period. I suggest nothing. Now you understand why, when told I have cancer, it’s pretty much an eye-roll event for me. I’m sure I will die eventually, but not from cancer.

Barbara’s Battle with Cancer

The Ups and Downs

I was in shock when my best friend called to say that she had cancer. I was dumbfounded as I listened to her telling me that she had ovarian cancer and would be having surgery in a few weeks. Numbness struck as I thought it is the week before Christmas; her favorite time of the year.

She survived the surgery and the prognosis was good. She would have to undergo radiation and chemo, but they were optimistic that they had gotten it all. I looked at her when she came home and was amazed, she was ashen and her bright eyes were dull. As usual, she was optimistic and raved about how she had lost so much weight. We joked as this was a constant battle for her.

Our lives changed drastically. We had always done shopping trips, lunches, get togethers and so much more. Little did we both realize that our lives for the next two years would revolve around doctor’s appointments, meal preparation and anything that had to do with this damned cancer.

The chemo treatments started. I took her to the treatments as I worked nights and her husband worked days, so it was easier. The chemo made her violently ill. She dreaded them as she started feeling good the day before the treatment and felt lousy the rest of the time.

Her appetite shrank as did her weight. She had no strength to cook and no interest in food. No problem, I would make extra when I fixed my families meals and bring over dinner. I tried everything and anything to tempt her appetite – nothing seemed to work. Every night I called and it was always the same, “it was good, but I just wasn’t hungry”.

The doctor’s decided that perhaps radiation would be better since the chemo was making her so ill. it did seem better she was not so violently ill, but there was no appetite. She said everything tasted like tin. I learned not to fix her favorites, to try other dishes and combinations. This seemed to work, but then nausea set in, everything made her sick. The doctor’s prescribed a pill for her that was supposed to lessen the nausea. These were like gold – $60 a pill and not covered by insurance.

During this time she developed a problem with her leg – it always ached and she never felt good. She had back problems due to her being so overweight. The leg and the back problems just added to the difficulty of her treatment.

So many times we would go for her radiation treatment to be told that the bed was not working, could we come back later, which we did. This took its toll on her as it was always the chore of getting there and having the treatment and leaving, when we had to wait or come back, it made it so much worse.

When the radiation was finally over, she went for her examination and the results were good – they could not find any trace of the cancer. It had been 6 months – we were overjoyed. Life started to get back to normal. Barbara’s appetite increased, she went back to work part time and all seemed well. We went on day trips, we did shopping and everything seemed to be back to normal. This was short lived.

I went over to take her to work one morning and she said that she didn’t feel well. I asked what was wrong and she said it wasn’t anything in particular, she just didn’t feel good. She made a doctor’s appointment and we went. They took more tests and could find nothing, maybe she was just tired. It didn’t change, she never felt good. We started going to her regular doctor, the cancer specialist, her allergist and an internist. No one could find anything. Yet, she didn’t feel good.

July 4th of 2000 came and we spent the day together. She and her husband came over for a barbecue and despite me having all her favorites, she barely ate a thing. We did a lot of laughing and enjoyed the day. The next day, she was vomiting and just didn’t feel good. Once again, we went to the same doctor’s and they could find nothing out of the ordinary. A blood test revealed that her levels were a little low. A liver scan was suggested for July 20th.

Barbara and I talked about everything, but for some reason we just could not talk about this liver scan. We did as much as we could in the two weeks before this scan. We went shopping, watched TV and just enjoyed being together. Going out was difficult as we now had a walker, cane and a pocketbook full of pills. We laughed and acted like this would go on forever.

July 19th came and we both thought that a special day would be appropriate. It was pouring that day, but we vowed not to let the rain dampen our spirits. We went up to the local farm and got some fresh picked corn on the cob and proceeded to the grocery store to get her a salmon steak – her absolute favorite. She suggested that we go to Stewart’s for lunch as she was craving their fish sandwich. As we were driving there, a deer ran in front of the car. We commented on how unusual it was to see a deer and how beautiful it was. Lunch was a disaster, nothing tasted good and she was too tired to eat. She asked if we could go home – this was not “my Barbara”.

Barbara, her walker, cane, pocketbook and I made it up the 19 stairs to her apartment and she laid down. Soon, it was time for me to go to work. We hugged each other and didn’t want to let each other go. I got called into work during the day on the 20th and could not go for her scan. She told me not to worry, her sister-in-law would take her and she would call me the minute it was over.

I called her the night of the 19th, but her husband said that she was asleep. The 20th came and I called her to wish her good luck and gave her my love. She reassured me that I would hear from her by 10:30 since the test was at 9:00. We told each other how much we loved each other. 10:30, 11:00, 11:30, 12:00; 12:30 came and went and no phone call. I called her husband at work and was told that he left and went to the hospital.

Panic set in. I called and got a wonderful operator who put me through to the emergency room where she was. She had an effect from the scan, and was not doing well. Her heart rate was not good, her breathing was shallow and she was in pain. I called again and spoke to her – she was so weak, she said “thanks, sorry I didn’t call you – I love you”. I told her how much I loved her.

Finally, her husband called, when they did the scan she had been full of cancer and the scan released the cancer into her system. She had about 48 to 72 hours. I was in shock. I went to the hospital and after much hassle finally was allowed in to see her. I was not family. I looked at her – gone was the radiant color in her cheeks, the bright, sparkly eyes never opened. I held her hand and told her that I loved her and I felt a slight squeeze on my hand. It must have been a reflex I was told, she was in a coma. Barbara left us on July 20th at 1:14 a.m.

A Healing of Cancer and a Faith in God

Her cancer treatments began seven months ago when she was diagnosed with lung cancer. I remember coming to her home last June and seeing her with her daughter, sitting on the couch.

Tears filled her eyes as her broken words filled my ears. I heard her say, “I’m going to die.”

Being set back for just a moment, I replied with, “ok… We all are going to die one day… What’s going on?”

That’s when she told me about the cancer. I took a breath and assured her that she wasn’t necessarily going to die. It was in Gods hands as to the pending results.

I told her my twin brother had Lymphoma cancer and he was supposed to be dead 20 years ago, yet he is still running around the beaches on the gulf coast.

I think what I said to her made her feel a little better, still I know her heart was filled with unknown fear. Her future was uncertain and being a widow of cancer and loosing a son to cancer, she cried outwardly and deep within her soul.

She asked me if I would leave her as her friend. I answered that when I make a friend, it’s solid through thick and thin and I would be there for her through the whole ordeal.

I told her that she had to promise me something from the get-go. I asked her to put it completely into Gods hands. To let God work through the doctors to heal her. I asked her to believe this and for argument sake to just believe she was already healed. She again asked me to help her through and to help her believe.

Immediately, we began to read the New Testament and pray on an every day basis. It wasn’t much longer when she asked if she could be baptized at the local church. We contacted the preacher of the church, told him of her situation, and requested him to fulfill her wishes. After he discussed the mater with her, he set it up and that alone brightened her outlook to a new, positive one.

She began her treatments as required by the doctors and I encouraged her in her daily treatments of Gods word.

Time went by slowly for her and soon her fears of loosing her hair began to surface. I, being the comic I am, made jokes about it and kept her laughing. I said she could be a female Ko-jack, a GI Jane, or a real chrome dome. I volunteered to polish it for her so she could let her light shine. I know it all was stupid or silly but it kept her mind off of her problems.

She still refused to totally drop the hair thing and so soon enough we were visiting wig stores. That was fun! Have you ever gone into one of those places and just tried them on for the fun of it?

It was the visits to the cancer center that saddened me as I stood by my promise to go with her. I saw people with all sorts of cancer, people who had a cancer and refused to quit the cigarettes, people that cheerfully went about their lives and being torn up on the inside didn’t let it show. I saw people that looked like and acted like they were already dead. Still mostly, there was laughter and friendships being made as each person waited on their turn to be treated.

They compared their treatments with each other and encouraged each other as the days turned into months. Some people didn’t fair well throughout the process and some did very well, yet I saw a bonding between the center staff and the patients, a bonding of friends who shared a common foe, a bonding of Christians and Non – Christians alike.

It amazed me how even the staff and the doctors encouraged prayer. It was said by one doctor that he could only point the radiation at the cancer but it was up to God if it was to do any good. I heard another doctor say that he had done all that he could but the rest was in Gods hands.

It amazed me that each and every person working in the center felt that strongly about their faith but I didn’t stop to think that they see and go through the demons of cancer on a daily basis; that they made a career doing it.

I smile at this thought and a twinkle enters the corner of my eye. I am so thankful to have made this journey, to see and hear what I have. I am truly grateful to have been a part of these peoples lives.

My friend has finished her treatments now and after her last pet scan, she was told by the radiation doctor that there was no evidence of the cancer on the x-rays. Today, the cancer doctor told her she was doing well and that her cancer had gone into remission.

This time I saw her with tears of joy as she praised God.

It’s not over yet, she still has to follow up and be monitored for the coming years because unfortunately cancer can rear its ugly head again.

Now she feels Gods hand on her life and she knows the rest of the journey will be a good one and made with smiles. “Ain’t God Good!”

Cherished Wishes: A Cancer Patient’s Prayer

My friend Buck has a post on Facebook that says, “Every person has 1000 wishes, a cancer patient only has 1, to get better.” Reading his post my thoughts turned to how much I take for granted and how seldom I give thanks for the things in my life that really matter. I live with my daughter and son-in-law and their two children and they love and nurture me. I have a job two and a half blocks from my back door that I love. My pastor once told me to get a roll of cash register tape and start writing down the things that I was thankful for on it, re-rolling as I went. I filled the tape and had barely scratched the surface. I wish now that I’d never quit writing.

At church one Sunday evening my pastor asked for testimonies of thanksgiving. A big, burly man stood to his feet and with tears streaming down his face began to give a list of things that he was thankful for. He said, “Thank you Lord for eyelashes that protect my eyes. Thank you Lord for fingernails that I just take for granted. Thank you for the hair on my head and for two strong legs to carry me. Thank you Lord for hands that can take a glass of water to my lips, or hand a bouquet of flowers to my wife or a kitten to my daughter. At this point he paused for half a moment as the entire church sat in silent awe. This was a tough man, huge in stature and this was a side of him that few of us had ever seen.

With a great sigh and a valiant sob he continued, “Thank you GOD for the dirt beneath my feet and the grass I complain about when it comes time to mow. Thank you for the rain, and the sun, and the stars, and all that you have provided for me, for butterflies . and starry skies. OH ! Forgive me Lord for taking all of this and so much more for granted.” It was as if he slid down the back of the pew. Once seated he took his face in both of his big work roughened hands and wept.

Our pastor started giving thanks and asked each of us to stand and thank the Lord for all that we each individually had reasons to be thankful for. It is an hour in my life that I will cherish unto death. The man across the aisle was giving thanks for his babies life. She had been born with multiple holes in her fragile, tender heart and saved by a surgeon’s GOD guided hands. The man in front of me was giving thanks for surviving the truck that he was under, working on, that fell off it’s jack and landed on his chest without killing him. The little girl behind me was thanking God for bringing home her lost kitten. A woman at he front of the church was giving thanks for her wonderful, loving husband and two precious, honorable sons. The pastor’s wife was giving thanks for GOD’s mercy and forgiveness.

I gave thanks for being so loved by GOD that I was allowed to be present and witness this big, burly man be called to stand and share some of his reasons for rejoicing and a church that boldly spoke out expressing their thanksgiving. Buck I;m thankful that I don’t have cancer and that my children and grandchildren don’t have cancer. I have faced death on more than one occasion. You know of the brain tumor that should have ended my life and you know of a magnificent FATHER who spared me. Your posting made me realize just how little I express my appreciation and how few look at me an recognize my love for GOD.

I complain of being hot instead of giving thanks for the sun. I whine when getting wet instead of giving thanks for the rain. I cry when I am cut instead of giving thanks for GOD”s healing power built into my cells. But right this instant I am thankful for a friend who provided me with a wake up call and in so doing gave me an opportunity to give 1000 thank yous to my savior and creator. My wish is GOD’s blessings on your life for giving all that would receive it “Such a Special Gift.” I told your son that the way I felt about you was that GOD had carved a special shelf in my heart and tucked you away inside. So I am not at all surprised that he opened up your shelf and used you to speak to me. Borrowing my daughter Steph’s words I say, Isn’t it just like HIM?