Dad has successfully completed seven of fifteen prescribed radiation treatments. His oncologist guaranteed that he would suffer fatigue and a sore throat before it’s all over. So far, he has experienced varying degrees of fatigue which intensifies as the day progresses. Since the radiation beams are targeting a tumor located close to his esophagus, a sore throat will likely develop over the next two weeks.
The small, Katy branch of MD Anderson is a mere 2.4 miles from my driveway to their front door. Yesterday we made the round trip in 45 minutes. We frequently voice our gratitude about not having to travel to the MD Anderson main campus for treatment. It is a non-stop, swarming hubbub of activity and people, while the Katy branch exudes peace and quiet. We usually have the waiting room to ourselves.
The entire appointment doesn’t last long enough to finish a short, Reader’s Digest article, and every appointment has been timely, except for last Tuesday. For once, the waiting room actually held some waiting patients. One man slumped in his seat and stared at the floor. We half-listened to a CNN newscaster give tips on how to find a job in a poor job market, and what to do about the value of your house when it’s worth less than what you owe on it. I sensed that the man wanted to talk, and commented that a steady diet of CNN news could be disheartening.
After a two or three minutes of silence, the man stated flatly that he had twelve tumors in his head, and that it had all started on Thanksgiving Day with such a terrific headache that he had to go to the ER by ambulance. I moved nearer in time to hear him whisper that he had six to eight months to live. Dad walked by, and nodded his permission to continue my visit. I introduced myself as a cancer survivor. I told him that we might not see each other here again, and asked if he minded if I prayed with him. He replied that he knew Jesus and quickly bowed his head. I asked God the Father to sustain my new friend, Ricky, to comfort him, and grant him peace.
During the trip home, Dad and I talked about Ricky’s challenges and the challenges in general that cancer brings into one’s life. We both agreed that we are grateful for medical professionals who dedicate their lives to preserving life.
I recalled how Uncle Richard would enthusiastically begin his prayers by thanking God for “life.” As a teenager I wondered about his thanking God for life. I took life for granted. Now I know that he was thanking God for the gift of “life with Jesus,” thanking Him for the One who gave His life to bring us life.
It was a priviledge to share Uncle Richard’s prayer with Ricky, “Thank You, God, for life!”