For the past few weeks I have occasionally mentioned a young woman named Heather who is battling a cancer diagnosed while she is pregnant. Some of you (including one seminarian) have kindly asked to be kept apprised of Heather’s situation (and the baby’s), and have kept her in your prayers.
Yesterday the patient liaison person at her hospital sent this:
We’ve all been praying for Heather…As you are aware, she had stage 3 cancer under her tongue. Since Heather found out about the cancer at the same time she learned she was pregnant, nothing could be done to address the cancer for several months. Although still pregnant, two weeks ago she began radiation to soften the cancer in hopes that it could be surgically removed after 6 weeks of radiation. Unable to talk or eat, her sole source of nutrition has been an IV tube since beginning radiation.
No doctors gave Heather much hope due to the severity and progression of the cancer. The plan was to complete radiation and then surgically remove portions of her tongue, throat, jaw and other areas affected by the cancer. This surgery was to be performed in St. Louis immediately after delivery of the baby, who will be 30 weeks by the end of radiation treatments.
Today, she went back to begin her third week of radiation. The technicians opened her mouth to position the equipment relative to the tumor. Only…this time…there was nothing there. No tumor. No cancer. Nothing anywhere on her tongue, jaw, throat, mouth…nothing. The only evidence that she ever had that cancer was a small cancerous patch on her lymphnode which the doctors expect to respond well to radiation.
What’s more…well, the unborn baby grew 1.2 pounds over the last 6 days. So, all doctors are thrilled.
Heather declared from the beginning that God would take care of her. She never lost hope or faith. God simply worked a miracle in her life. We serve a God for whom nothing is impossible. Please take a moment to thank and praise Him for this act of miraculous grace. May we all be encouraged and may our faith be strengthened as we consider that this God of miracles loves us and will work in our most challenging circumstances. Hallelujah to our God!
I know some will say, “well, it wasn’t GAWWWWD…it was the radiation, and the trained people, it was science!”
I suspect – because my religion has formed me in faith and reason, and in openness – that it was both. I don’t understand why anyone needs it to be only one or the other. Let us remember that the best combinations of scientific knowledge and human intent do not always achieve wonders, and sometimes they do.
Let us also remember that doctors do not always know everything – the best doctors will be the first to admit that – and that Western Medicine in its present form is pretty new in the grand scheme of things. 150 years ago, a doctor might have wiped his scalpel on his sleeve before beginning a surgery; 100 years ago, if a baby was deemed “too big” to deliver, the risk of infection and death following a cesarean section was so great that doctors would elect, instead, to crush the baby’s skull to facilitate delivery. 50 years ago Western Medicine thought baby formula was superior to breast milk.
So, before we get too excited about the primacy of medicine over faith, let’s consider that they may work best when they are applied together, and in humility?
Speaking of all doctors don’t know – and miracles – do you remember little Faith, the anencephalic infant who – defying all the odds – managed to survive her birth, and to breathe, hear, cry-when-hungry/wet, respond to touch and basically live the life she has, for however long she is given it? She’s still in there, fighting. Recall, she wasn’t expected to live for as long as 39 minutes. Her life is so mysterious to the doctors, who can’t believe all they do not know, that at 39 days old she had a CAT scan, to make sure she hadn’t simply been misdiagnosed:
We had a pretty good week last week. I guess the highlight would be Faith’s CAT scan, which was done on Thursday (her 5-week birthday). There were some doubts about whether or not Faith was misdiagnosed because of how well she is doing and because she is not “supposed” to have any consciousness…so we had a scan done just to see what was inside her head.
…On Friday we got the results. A neurosurgeon, neuro-radio-interventionologist (big word), and a radiologist looked at the photos and they all agreed that the diagnosis of anencephaly was correct. They have no explanation as to how she is functioning on a conscious level without a cerebrum, or how she is even alive. It’s the kind of miracle that makes atheists scratch their heads…
Heather and her baby, Faith and her mother, they can all use your prayers. What incredible heart they display by their very lives!
In both of these cases, the expedient people – who know so much more than everyone else and who think the government should be in charge of our health care – would have counseled abortions for these mothers. Perhaps a government that is footing the bill for medical care would insist on abortions, in service to an idea of “justice” and “unity” and – oh, yeah – “compassion.”
Such governments, such expedient people, would be very wrong.
But then, despite what some may believe, the government is not a teacher of love. We are that, to each other, and our babies teach love to us because they can’t help themselves about it. They are, after all, the very coming of Love.
UPDATE: The new (female) Dean of the Episcopal Divinity School at Cambridge: “Abortion is a blessing”. You can’t make this up.