"There will be no gloom for those who are in anguish...the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light."
~ Isaiah 9. 1 - 7
Another beautiful Christmas Story is playing itself out at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston Texas where our friend and colleague Adriana is being treated for Osteosarcoma. Since October she has chronicled her journey, filled with hope and peace and thanksgiving, but this story which came recently was too beautiful not to share. So with her permission, I offer you entrance into Adriana's mighty battle with cancer in which her weapons are Love and Peace. Please keep her in your prayers because she was hospitalized yesterday with what is called a neutropenic fever, a result of the chemo. Her family has moved to Houston to fight this battle with her, including her precious little Daniela who is not a year old.
At MD Anderson Cancer Center waiting for my weekend lab results, waiting to see if I need a blood or platelet transfusion. The waiting room of the sarcoma center is packed. Everyone here waiting for the same thing - do we need fresh blood today? Volunteers come by to offer hot coffee, tea and chocolate. I chose the chocolate even though it will likely upset my stomach. Sometimes you have to live a little. Mom’s home with Daniela getting her ready for music class. Today is “wear your Christmas outfit” day. She’ll go in one of the new dresses I bought her for our photo shoot. Juan got in last night. I miss him so much during the week. He’s a blessing- up with me twice last night while I was sick in the bathroom- then up at 7:30 feeding Daniela before helping me get ready for the hospital. He’s a great dad. We’re lucky to have him. Today’s just a typical Saturday at the Sarcoma center. Yet today I notice more than usual. The young man - looks about my age - with a large growth on his face. He’s with his parents and wrapped in a nice cozy blanket. Then there’s the older gentleman. He’s already lost a leg. He’s here with his wife and nurse. Barely hanging on. But he’s a fighter - I can tell by his Dallas Cowboys hat. The poor nurse looks exhausted. But she doesn’t let her spirits down. She’s wearing a headband with a Christmas tree on it. What a trouper. She’s cheerful as she calls out names and asks patients to go to the second floor to get blood. It takes a special person to work with cancer patients. We aren’t easy, or simple. Meanwhile Juan still hasn’t eaten, but he’s not worried. He says we’ll go pick up Kolache’s when we’re done here. I can’t eat much of anything these days. The chemo kills my stomach and my tastebuds. I’m happy to keep one meal down a day. But I’m doing well so far. I’ve only lost 10 pounds so we’re not worried. Some folks lose 30,40,50. I eat enough toast with peanut butter to keep my thighs happy. As I sit here an ponder life I wonder a strange thing. How many of us will go through this holiday season absolutely oblivious to our blessings ? Myself included. I am no stranger to victim hood. Goodness knows I’ve had my fair share of “why me?” moments in the past three months. But the truth is not one of us is promised tomorrow. I may be sick today and healthy tomorrow. You may be healthy today and - God forbid - sick tomorrow. But we’re not all just cruising through life, through Facebook, instagram, etc. Many of us are truly grateful for our blessings. We must hang on to that spirit. This holiday season be grateful. Be thankful you don’t have cancer. If you do have cancer be thankful for your treatment. Be thankful for your meals, your hair, your eyelashes and eyebrows... I’m so thankful for what’s left of my eyebrows. As a girl I hated them. I over plucked them. Now I am so grateful I haven’t lost them. A silly thing - eyebrows- totally irrelevant in the scheme of life but at a moment like this nothing connects you back to yourself like those little hairs above your eyes. I’ll end my musing here. The fire alarm is going off in the sarcoma center. None of us move to evacuate. No fire will stop us from getting our blood. The nurse keeps us calm and tells us to ignore it. Easy to do.