Today’s scribbling isn’t about sex or relationships or some eye-popping news story: It’s about courage in the face of what looks like impossible odds.
My older sister is a breast cancer survivor (just as my mother is). She had some pretty bad moments with chemo at times but she hung in there and was pronounced cancer-free; anyone who beats the big C deserves major props.
But, it seems that being cured of that cancer might have set her up for the cancer she has now, something called multiple myeloma and, from what I’ve read, if it’s not a genetic defect, the usual cause of this blood cancer is radiation… like cancer-killing levels of radiation. We know this now… but when my sister was going to the hospital almost every two weeks with all the symptoms of congestive heart failure, no one had any idea what the hell was going on with her.
The girl was in pretty sad shape but even though the doctors were baffled by the way she was presenting, they were able to get the fluid from around her heart by inserting tubes to drain it to actually cutting a window in her pericardium. They said all of this should take care of the problem, along with the appropriate medications… yet she wound up making four trips to the ER, resulting in four stays; a couple of days after she had the tubes removed (again), she was back in the hospital again for the exact same symptoms.
She’s been there for two months now (give or take a day). The family prayed that she’d get better and that the doctors, who were baffled beyond belief, would get that inspiration that would lead to what was really wrong with her; for anyone who doesn’t believe in the power of prayer, yeah, it works because one doctor had a hunch and did tests to confirm the presence of amyloids in her heart tissues and multiple myeloma is the reason why.
There’s no cure for this although it can be put into remission. The doctors, now aware of what they were dealing with, were confident they could make her better and started on what I’d call an aggressive set of protocols to back up what they were saying, beginning with cracking her chest open and removing the pericardium from around her heart and then starting her on chemo… but they wound up putting her on dialysis because on top of all this other stuff going on with her, her kidneys weren’t quite up to snuff and had to be ‘jump-started’.
Instead of fluid building up around her heart, it started collecting in and around her lungs; back in the day, she suffered through a case of shingles… and it cropped up again; Mom, who was a nurse at this same hospital system for over thirty years, believes that since the chemo tends to whack the body’s immune system, this is why my sister’s shingles made an appearance again. She’s been poked, prodded, scanned nine ways to Sunday as well as enduring heart surgery and a few other things…
And, yet, she’s remained calm in the face of all of this… well, her pulse was quite high the day she went to surgery but that’s understandable. She said to our mother, “I’m not worried about this because I know who holds my hand…,” speaking to her faith in God.
When my mother and I talk about what’s been going on, we both admit that if all this had happened to us, uh, we would have freaked out at some point until we got our heads around it. And maybe my sister has somewhere along the line… but you wouldn’t know it to talk to her. She’s lost so much weight – we think that’s because the doctors were very aggressively getting all that fluid out of her and, sometimes, she still has problems breathing because of small amounts of fluid around her lungs.
Still, the last time we visited with her, she was smiling and joking and being a bit fussy because she didn’t want to take something for her acid reflux, which was bothering her that day. The family has rallied around her; I don’t get a chance to go see her every day but our mother has been there almost every day as well as my nieces and my sister’s friends.
I love my sister and give her all possible props for the courage she’s displayed throughout this ordeal and to say that her bravery in the face of all this adversity is commendable just doesn’t do what’s she’s doing any real justice.
And we’ll continue to pray for her continued recovery. Big-time props also go to the doctors who have attended her – God has truly guided them in this. They refused to give up, kept digging for answers and, who knows, maybe they did some praying as well.
And if y’all want to add your prayers to ours, they’d be very much welcomed.