27 Oct Why We Do What We Do: Survivor’s Story
Last month, we celebrated the grand opening of our newest cancer center, Northeastern Oklahoma Cancer Institute in Claremore, Oklahoma. One of our first patients, a 38-year old woman named Ashley, shared her personal journey with breast cancer. I was so impressed with her candor, her strength and her willingness to share her story to help others. Ashley, and patients like her, are the reason that we do what we do.
Ashley gave me permission to share her speech with you.
On a gray, rainy February morning, I was working my son’s Cub Scout pancake breakfast. I’d spent four hours mixing endless bowls of batter, doing my best to keep busy while making small talk with the other parents. I’d surreptitiously check my phone, because I was waiting for The Phone Call.
It came as we finished washing three electric griddles and what felt like 14 mixing bowls. The church kitchen was noisy, so I took the phone and went to the back door, which was propped open. Rain drops bounced off my jeans as I answered the phone.
The doctor dropped the news swiftly, as if he knew it would be less painful if he got it out of the way. Like ripping off a Band-Aid, I suppose.
“The biopsy came back and it is, indeed, breast cancer.”
I didn’t feel anything. Not the rain, not the cold wind blowing in the door, not the heat from the kitchen behind me. I was numb. Shocked. I stood there silently and listened to the doctor talk about surgery, radiation, chemotherapy.
He was leaving town the following Monday, on a church trip to Israel. I asked him to say a prayer for me, as I figure Holy Land prayers must count for extra credit. Also, my little boy’s name is Canaan, so maybe THAT would give me some bonus points, too.
The doctor said, “I’ll do you one better. I know you’re on Facebook a lot. When I got to the Wailing Wall, I’m going to write your name on a piece of paper and put it in the Wall. And I’ll go live on Facebook. You watch for it.”
I knew then that I was in good hands.
He told me that I would be fine. I responded with, “Do you promise?”
Then we hung up. The Phone Call that changed everything lasted exactly sixteen minutes.
To be continued next month…
Thank you, Ashley, for sharing your experience to help others. You very poignantly brought home to me the importance of our mission to bring radiation therapy to patients in rural, underserved areas. We are grateful for the opportunity to serve.