I met an angel…Emily Forysthe….She was placed exactly where I needed her another reassurance that the Lord’s plan is perfect.
Last week, I had to go for my Radiation planning. It takes two hours for them to measure you and set you in a cast. This cast will be what I lay in for over six weeks each time they send radiation through my left chest wall to erradiate any little cancer cells that are still holding on after two round of chemo. It was going to be a long day. A meeting with my New Lenox Oncologist first, then Radiation planning and then my final chemo treatment that I wrote about. From 9:30 am to 4:30 pm at University of Chicago Cancer Care in New Lenox…praises to Lori who patiently huffed it from waiting room to waiting room with me all day!
Needless to say I was a little nervous. I had not read much about Radiation Therapy yet, except for the side effects that I will experience. Dry skin, burning skin, fatigue…oh and the words that resonate from Dr. McCall, “we are very precise, so that we don’t radiate your heart and will do minimal damage to your lungs”. Just scar tissue on my lungs for the rest of my life…a calculated side effect to clear me of cancer.
Well before I get to Emily, let me go back to the week before when I met with Dr. McCall. Her sweet nurse, Nicole, walked me through everything that I would go through over the next two months and then entered this small stature woman with the kindest eyes. Instead of reaching for my hand to greet me, she embraced me with a hug. I instantaneously knew this is the right doctor to walk this radiation journey with me. Her compassion was only surpassed by her deep concern for my health. She patiently answered all my questions, all of my husband’s questions and all of my daughter’s questions…this is a family affair! We all walked out of her office feeling that we were exactly where the Lord wanted us to be each step of this journey.
On to Emily…
I checked in at the front desk and the receptionist brought me back to the women’s dressing room. Another pretty looking gown was to be donned for this procedure. As we entered the dressing room, the receptionist said hello to Emily who was still waiting to be called. I changed into my fashionable gown and took a sit next to Emily. I said hello and introduced myselft. In the five short minutes we had together before she was called in for treatment I was graced with the presence of an angel. She told me about her five boys, eight grandsons and eight granddaughters. One of her sons lost his battle with cancer that he got from serving in Vietnam and being exposed to Agent Orange. She also told me one of her granddaughters is fighting and surviving brain cancer. I asked about her story….and how she found herself here.
Emily is a huge proponent of mammograms. She said her family use to laugh at how often she would bring it up to her daughter-in-laws, granddaughters and friends. But she was adminent about caring for yourself. Then this spring her mammogram showed a small tumor. She had a lumpectomy and is doing radiation therapy. Her doctors are not planning chemotherapy, they are confident that the surgery and radiation are enough.
Emily got a huge smile on her face when she spoke of her children and grandchildren making her dinner. She is half way through her radiation and has become too tired each day to make meals for her and her husband. She laughed when she shared her husband said he would cook dinner. Her reply to him was “you haven’t cooked a meal in our 65 years of marriage, you’re not starting now.”
Then it hit me…Emily had to be at least in her 80’s. Married 65 years, but still full of spunk. Then she said, “I’m so blessed, so many women I meet here for radiation are doing so much worse than I. It’s like I have a hang nail compared to what they are going through.” She thought of her breast cancer as a hang nail! I sat alittle taller knowing if Emily can endure radiation, so can I.
She was called for her therapy and wished me well. I may never see Emily again, but she will always be in my heart and prayers. And then in a moment of grace, I discovered she was Catholic…as she walked out. she asked forgiveness of the nurse that if took her so long to get up, “Mea culpa, mea culpa”…now that put a big smile on my face!
As I entered the room for my planning session, they laid me on the table and I spend the next hour gazing up at the ceiling. Looking down at me was the red light of the laser that reminded me of the Lord’s love. It appeared to me as Jesus’ heart shining brightly down upon me and so I prayed for courage…I prayed for my family and friends…I prayed for Emily, the angel send by our Lord to lighten my anxiety and to rest my soul.
Grace embraced through Emily, a mother, grandmother, cancer survivor and angel. May she continue to touch others she meets and encourage their journey as she did mine.
“A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put with you” Ezekiel 36:26