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Saturday, September 22, 2007

A Friend in Need

There is an interesting dynamic that occurs in a oncologist office. People whose lives normally never cross paths are suddenly thrown together. There is no separation of classes, race, or religion. Your job and bank account are of no value when you step into the doctors office. Here life's playing field is leveled, life accomplishments are left outside the door. All you bring is your faith and the relationships of those closest to you.

After four years of this I feel I now have the awareness to look beyond myself and see those around me who are experiencing what we have already faced. God has given us this unique opportunity in our life. I know there are not many people with over four years of experience in the chemo room. Truthfully, you are finished by now one or the other .

Last Thursday at treatment God gave me an chance to help someone who had suddenly found themselves in the insanity of the oncologist waiting room. One day life seems certain, future plans are being made and life annoyances are over exaggerated beyond the level of importance they deserve. Then in a second your world is turned upside down what was important the day before is lost in the sea of confusion and despair. You feel as if life has punched you in the gut and you can't catch your breath, but at the same time you are thrown into the ocean.

Andrea and I arrived at 8am for chemo trying to fit in the 3 hour drip time before my one o'clock meeting. Andrea finished her weigh in and blood pressure check and we took our seats awaiting Andrea's named to be called as the days patients soon began to filter in. Soon Andrea was summoned back to have her port accessed. This first step in the chemo process takes place in a separate room and involves a technician inserting the IV needle in the port installed under Andrea's skin. This saves her veins from being damaged by the chemo. Andrea was soon seated in the chemo room and I went back to the waiting room to pick up her bag. As I did a woman seating there with worry in her eyes said hello. I returned the hello but felt I needed to take a seat next to her. We struck up a conversation. I learned her husband had found out he had cancer and was given a poor diagnoses.

As we talked I saw a woman who was deeply in love with her husband with a son close to my age. I could have passed her countless times on the street and would have never gone beyond a simple hello. Yet here we were both sharing our deepest fears and feelings. As I listened to her story, I could feel the pain and emotion in her words. I had felt the exact same pain, and fears and there are days that I still do. That is the reality of dealing with cancer you never fully get away from its effect on your life. The despair of dealing with someone telling you your spouse is going to die is something I can not explain. It goes beyond the dread of cancer, it is cancer in its worst form. Not to belittle hearing someone you love has cancer but hearing someone you love as terminal cancer is just different. But here I was sharing this experience with a woman who was a stranger only 10 minutes ago. We both shared the fear we faced and I tried to offer lessons I have learned and comfort God has given me over the past four years. It felt good to share my journey and faith. In a small way I was able to see God turn something awful and use it for good. It was the first time I was able to share with someone in my same position, a spouse. I realised that there are unique emotions, and issues that you deal with as a spouse. I guess I never thought about it before, not until I listened to a stranger express my deepest thoughts.

As I look back on the moment I know God brought us together and I hope to see my new friend soon. Next time you say a prayer for Andrea take a moment to pray for this couple. With all my heart and all I am I wish they did not have to face the difficult days ahead, but I know God will be there for them...He has been for me.

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