Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The power of a large group praying


I am totally humbled by the power of all your prayers, and the prayers you have generated on my behalf. And all the good karma you are putting out there (all you incredibly good-hearted non-prayer people).

I got out of the hospital on Monday and am doing well. In addition to saying thank you for helping me through this, I wanted to share specifically with you how tangible that power is. I feel like I am witness to more than one miracle.

You helped pray for a successful surgery and a smooth recovery.

Last summer, I had a smaller (but still big) surgery. That one involved one surgeon and lasted about 2 1/2 hours, the incision went from belly button to pubic bone and they removed only one body part. After that surgery, I couldn't get out of bed by myself, I could barely walk down a hallway in my house, and I was down for about 8 weeks afterwards. And skinnier than I've been since, well, junior high. Plus, they gave me injections that left my arm completely black and blue.

This time, the surgery was much bigger in every way. This one involved two surgeons and two other doctors; it took 71/2 hours. They removed the same body parts as last summer (I had them rebuilt after that surgery - those obviously didn't last long!), as well as a full hysterectomy and a few other areas where they found tumors. I woke up with a colostomy bag on my left side, more than 25 staples from above my belly button to my pelvis, and a drain on my right side.

BUT, from the first day, I could get out of bed on my own and walk the halls. My spirits were surprisingly good. Even though the news wasn't ideal (that they found more tumor than expected), I really felt a sense of hope and possibility. I got to learn a bit more about the cards I am holding. And this time, there were absolutely no bruises from the injections.

I attribute this totally to the power of your prayers. I am in awe of the tangible, physical differences this made that no one can explain. It is not my attitude; I can't claim credit for that. I was pretty bummed out going into this surgery (little rectal cancer humor there) and not even thinking that there was hope. But I came out of it with hope and more.

I asked that you pray that God guide the hands of the surgeon, and I feel like those prayers were answered and more. One of the surgeons came to speak with me after the surgery, to tell me about why she removed all that she did. She explained that some of the tumors were obvious, and for others, she couldn't see them but just had a feeling that something might be there. In those instances, she removed those parts, and turned out to be right. I feel like something larger was guiding her, and that your prayers that God work through her hands were answered.

You prayed for our little boys, that they come through this, not only stronger, but feeling blessed. The boys did fantastically well. I appreciate everyone's tangible support on that end, from their teachers through their playmates and the parents of their friends. When I returned home to see them, they were taller, yes, but also stronger and more independent in ways that are hard to describe. Totally an answer to our prayers!

Some more signs:

The priest at my church was trying to convince me that the Sacrament of the Sick is about healing. He offered to see me before surgery, but I wanted nothing to do with it. I still think of it that sacrament the same way that I did when I learned about it as a child, as the sacrament of last rites. When I was little, I looked at sacraments like Girl Scout badges, something to work toward and collect. (A type A even then, I hated that the system was set up so that you couldn't actually get ALL of them!)
Anyway, I declined. I wasn't ready to add that one to my list.
In pre-op, they let me use my phone (tee hee) and I was checking messages. A friend wrote me to say that she was going to church to say a special prayer for me. I read that message, looked up, and there was a priest. Holy crow. Freaked me out. He asked if I wanted to receive the Sacrament of the Sick. I felt like, at that point, I wasn't really supposed to refuse. And it turned out to be okay -- I'm still here!

After my surgery, I was assigned to a room with a Sicilian roommate. This was totally comforting to me, seeing the whole extended family march in at the start of the day, and out at the end of the day. Because, of course, Italians move in a family group. And EVERYONE, from the grandparents to the youngest children, go to visit the sick. I can remember doing that as a child. Lying in bed, listening to all the Italian conversation, I felt like I was five years old again at my grandparents' house, and that was cool.

A day or two later, as I walked / shuffled :-) the halls, I heard beautiful singing coming from one room. I peeked in and I couldn't see the patient. He or she was totally surrounded by a crowd of African Americans, standing so close together that their shoulders overlapped. They were singing hymns, and while I couldn't understand the words, the spirit of the songs just lifted me up. I stood there listening and hoped that their friend and relative was being lifted as well, and I gave thanks that they were there.

Thank you for your notes, your help for our family, your thoughts and prayers, your good deeds toward others, your candles. Thank you for the food, for adding me to countless pray lists, and for totally being there.

Though I do feel really good, I am clear that we are not out of the woods yet. The folks at Memorial Sloan Kettering said it directly: There is hope, but both the surgery and the follow-up chemo / radiation treatments need to go 100% right to get rid of this.

So, next up is chemo. I'm supposed to start as soon as possible. Yuck. But gearing up for it. If you want, I'll be back in touch when I know more.

In the meantime, please know what a huge difference you made and continue to make, and that you make miracles happen. And I am totally grateful.

Love, Marie

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