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Archive for September 20th, 2010

I Believe

Two weeks ago, as I was still caked in mud and blood from my trail race, I sat on the floor of my kitchen, a sobbing mess as my mother told me about her latest health issue.  She had spent the night in the hospital aftercoughing up blood and after blood tests and x-rays the doctors had told her she had a mass on her lung.  They told her that four of them had gone over her x-rays and were all in agreement that this was BAC Lung Cancer.  She would need to have a biopsy to confirm, but they had no doubt.

For the past week I have chosen not to worry. Instead, I prayed every morning when I woke up and every night before I went to sleep but contrary to my normal reaction, I chose to let God take the worry.  The biopsy was scheduled for this morning and though I woke up with a heavy weight on my chest, I immediately started praying.  But my prayers were interrupted by a memory of another time I prayed for my mother.

I was 22 years old and I was in France with my class for a mandatory winter term trip abroad.  The other girls around me were, as you would expect, excited by the prospect of being in a new country and seeing it with two professors who knew the country so well.  Even though I had never even imagined visiting another country, I found it hard to be excited.  Instead, I found myself worrying about my mom and my brother and sister.  On the second day of the trip we were at Mont St. Michel.  As we walked through the village to go to the large monastery at the top I spotted a small chapel built into the side of the hill.  I told my roommate to go ahead of me and I ducked into the chapel.

January in France is cold.  That day was bone chillingly so.  And even as I entered the chapel I knew it would offer no reprieve from the cold.  It was dark inside.  So much so that I had to stop and let my eyes adjust.  The only light came from the candles sitting on the far side of the church.  I made my way to the candles, lit one and knelt to pray for my mother.

At the time, I was not yet Catholic.  To be honest, I was not religious at all.  I didn’t attend church and I prayed when it suited me.  I didn’t spend time being thankful for the things I had.  Instead I prayed when I needed God’s help.  I did believe.  I believed that God would help and so I prayed.  I prayed with everything I had.

Only two months before, I had sat holding my mom’s hand as a young doctor told us her cancer had spread more than they had first thought.  When they had removed her breast, they had also removed some lymph nodes to be tested and eight of those had tested positive for cancer.  The doctor told us as gently as you can tell a mother and her daughter that she might live a year.  He told us they would do everything they could do to give us that year but she should start making arrangements for my younger brother and sister.

As I knelt in that chapel at the bottom of Mont St. Michel, I prayed with my whole heart.  I begged God to spare my mom.  I told Him that I knew I could survive but I didn’t know how my brother who was only fourteen and my sister who was only sixteen would survive it.  I begged Him to please let her survive at least long enough to finish raising them.  For the longest time I knelt there praying for my mom and my brother and sister and then I heard, “Ann, she’s going to be okay.”  I turned around expecting to see one of the professors who had come back looking for me but the church was empty.  I was all alone.  Except, I didn’t feel all alone.  Suddenly, I was no longer cold and I was no longer worried.  I had really handed it all over to God and He had really heard me and yes, he had really answered me.  I had no doubt.  I knew it.

Twenty years later I still have my mom and as though God wanted to show me he meant what He said then, I received a call from my mom this morning, when she should have been in the hospital for her biopsy.  “I’m alright,” she said, “They made a mistake.”  When she arrived at the hospital this morning they performed another CT scan and were able to get a better picture of what the four doctors had seen.  The new views showed more clearly the scar tissue left over from her bouts of radiation treatment.  They have asked to see her again in four months but right now, my mom is cancer free. And I am not alone.

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