When my kids were babies, I remember taking them to get immunizations. Each time, I had to hold my baby down and let the doctor hurt him/her. It was awful. When they cried, I cried too.
Tonight, I called my children, one by one, to tell them the bad news about my cancer. I tried to sound assured, but calm and cancer just don’t fit in the same conversation. Each of my adult kids started crying, and I cried too. I couldn’t help it. It was especially hard to tell Heather, my middle child, who is basking in the joy of her first pregnancy. I hated raining on her parade.
I also called my brother who is five years older than I am. Roy is about to get married and seems truly happy for the first time in many years. I hated dropping a wet blanket on his joy. It broke my heart to hear my big brother cry.
Since this battle with cancer began, I have prayed a lot, but mostly for others – cancer patients, cancer survivors, caregivers of cancer patients, and families of patients who lost the fight – but not for me. Somehow I find it difficult to pray for myself. It just seems presumptuous.
On this cool night, I’m sitting at home wrapped in a shawl crocheted for me by my 80-year-old Aunt Virginia, who lives in Michigan. She sent it with a note that said she prayed for me with every stitch, and when the shawl was finished she asked the ladies of her prayer circle to lay hands on it and pray for me too. Then she mailed it wrapped in love.
Aunt Virginia knows, as I do, that there is nothing magical about this shawl. It has no power to heal. Its power is in the comforting feeling it conveys to me that I am covered by the prayers of people who care – people who are holding me up to the Great Physician.
There is one thing I have prayed about for myself – that I would find the right surgeon. Today we visited a recommended local surgeon. He was kind and pleasant but he wasn’t prepared. He was supposed to have downloaded my biopsy results and ultrasound films from the hospital, but said he had a new computer and it wasn’t working right, so he had not seen any of my test results. Despite that, he started telling me about the operation he would do on me. What? I don’t think so.
I couldn’t get out of there fast enough. It was as if an audible voice had said to me, “This is not the place, Joyce.” As soon as we were out the door I said to John, “I’m calling Moffitt Cancer Center.” And I did.
Actually, I made an appointment online for Monday, just four days away, even though I’ve been told it would take two weeks to get in.
A friend recently shared with me about her experience having breast surgery at Moffitt and about her wonderful woman surgeon, Dr. Nazanin Khakpour. I loved the idea of a woman doctor whose specialty is breast surgery, but I couldn’t see a way to request her online. Still I submitted the form.
Soon a scheduler called from Moffitt to confirm my appointment request. She said, “We’ll have to change your date to Tuesday; Monday is full. And, that means we’ll have to give you Dr. Khakpour. Is that okay?”
Okay? Hallelujah! Once again, God has paved the way. Now all I have to do is wait through another long weekend. God, give me patience, and please … hurry up about it.