Compassion on the journey to Easter

By Barb Arland-Fye
Editor

Seven months pregnant, Annie, a nurse in a cancer treatment wing at Mayo Clinic cheerfully approached a patient scheduled to receive an injection of chemotherapy. Most patients prefer to receive the chemo in a five-minute injection into the abdomen rather than the IV infusion method, which delivers the drug much slower.

Arland-Fye

But Annie’s slightly built female patient shared her trepidation about the pain, based on her experience the month before. Annie’s expression turned to concern. She decided to consult with her supervisor to see what could be done to eliminate the pain. They returned to the cubicle to plan strategy with the patient. Their ideas were simple and effective. A pillow was placed behind the patient so that she was sitting up straight. Annie stood by her side, at an angle, to administer the drug, pausing occasionally to ensure that her patient wasn’t hurting.

The patient felt nothing but gratitude. She begged Annie to record every step she had taken so that next month’s shot would be equally pain-free. Annie’s patient hoped that Annie would be able to administer the drug next month. Annie, perhaps reading her patient’s mind, said: “I’m not due until May 25, so I should be here next month.”

I was Annie’s patient, and you can be sure I’m praying for her to be present for next month’s shot! The shot is one of two different treatments I receive to tame follicular lymphoma.

God has placed many “Annies” in my life on this journey toward healing and hope as Easter approaches.

Robin, my nurse practitioner, is another compassionate companion I’ve encountered on this journey. Last month, after she said I would need another PET scan to determine the effectiveness of the chemotherapy, I responded: “I don’t particularly like PET scans.” She said, cheerfully, “Have you ever had a ‘happy’ PET scan?” She was anticipating good results from the next test.

Her instincts were spot on! The chemotherapy has been effective in treating the cancer, which means I’ll require just one more round of chemotherapy at the end of April. Prayers are answered in the way that God believes is best for us, and I am grateful for such a straightforward answer! Robin said she loves to deliver good news to her patients, and the warmth of her personality makes the delivery so genuine.

A few hurdles remain. A biopsy of a suspicious node on my thyroid will be taken next month to determine if it is benign or cancerous. Another bone marrow biopsy will also determine whether lymphoma remains or has exited my bone marrow. My mother reminds me, “God is looking out for you; he gets you through it!” My mother has always given me excellent advice!

A week before my last chemo treatment, I stopped at my local doctor’s office for the weekly blood tests necessary to monitor my total blood count. Generally, I don’t have the same nurse from week to week because it’s a drop-in visit. But I had grown close to one of the nurses, who is around my age, and has befriended me. Like a blessing, she happened to be available and drew my blood. She gave me a big hug afterwards to carry me through treatment.

Through my discombobulated Lent this year, I sometimes feel as if I have let God down, but perhaps not. God has allowed me a fresh perspective on Lent through companions of compassion along the way to Easter.

(Editor Barb Arland-Fye can be reached at arland-fye@davenportdiocese.org.)

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