All we need is a miracle

Update, July 10, 2018: My friend, her daughter (and the rest of the family) are in for a long, grueling year or more, but the doctors say that they have every reason to believe she will live. I’ll take it. THANK YOU for all the support you shared when I was in my deepest grief.

My father is a not-quite-retired infectious disease doctor. He chose this path in the late 60s when infectious disease was a research-based kind of medicine, a good fit for my logical, thorough, bookish dad. He liked identifying symptoms, looking them up in the library and finding the best diagnostic fit; disease was a puzzle to solve and he’s good at puzzles. He also liked talking to the patients, but from the stories he tells, I think that was a skill he developed over the years.

He does tell a good story, and by the time I was 10 he was a teaching doctor who was often invited to give lectures in other cities. Sometimes he would take one of us with him, and as I got older sometimes I actually listened to what he told these doctors: corny jokes, technical details that were of no interest to me, and a few stories that marked me deeply.

My favourite story was when my dad talked about a patient he treated in the early days of CT scans. The young man came in complaining of severe headaches. They checked him out and finally ran a CT scan. The diagnosis was devastating: he had brain cancer. The young man was a youth pastor and had a long-planned church retreat scheduled for that weekend. He asked if he could put off treatment for a few days and attend this final retreat. The doctors agreed. When he returned, after a weekend where his whole church prayed for him and took care of him, his headaches were gone and he felt much better. His surgery was scheduled but the doctors decided to do one more scan because the technology was new & they just wanted a clear image to be sure about what they were dealing with. The image came back – no tumor. It was just gone. They had the previous scan: tumor. They had the new one: nothing. A third scan confirmed it: no tumor. What happened? Did they make a mistake the first time? Did the prayers work? My logical father could only say, “Sometimes in medicine you have to believe in miracles.”

My mother-in-law is a nurse who worked for years in a cancer treatment centre. Just moments ago she told me a story about a patient of hers who was diagnosed with mesothelioma and was given mere months to live. He was distraught, naturally, and spent three days in a panic of fear and anger. Then he remembered that he was a statistician and he could understand statistics, so he pored over the numbers and realized that the odds that he could live longer than the median were in his favour. He lived for 20 more years.

I would like to request a miracle, please. The 4-year-old daughter of one of my best friends was diagnosed with cancer on Friday, and I would like a miracle now. She is such a vibrant, funny, smart, HEALTHY little thing. There is nothing wrong with her – except this cancer. Cancer. She is four. I am trying very hard to remember that sometimes we have to believe in medicine and miracles. People are praying for her in all the various ways that people pray, but I’m having a little trouble praying right at this moment. But stories, I believe in stories. So please, accept these stories as my prayers. And if you can add your own, we’ll take that, too.



22 thoughts on “All we need is a miracle

  1. I’ve felt the heartbreak you’re feeling now for the four-year-old in your life. We recently went through this, But that’s not the happy story you’re looking for. Instead, I will share the story of my 21-year-old neighbor with you. She had leukemia and missed her sophomore year of college. After a partial-match transplant, she resumed college the following fall. But then she got sick again. She had to go through chemo and another partial-match transplant. This summer, she’s 150 days post-transplant and she’s coaching my daughter on swim team. MIRACLES CAN HAPPEN!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Oh wow! I love that story. And I read the other one, too – it broke my heart. Today they told her family: two tumours, 6-8 months of chemo, but good overall prognosis. I am sleeping in the hospital tonight – or rather not sleeping, clearly. Watching her breathe is peaceful. It means a lot to me to imagine that you and others are out there, sending good wishes. Thank you.


    2. Stacey, I just read your touching slice. My heart breaks reading it. It is so sad when cancer touches anyone, but especially awful for children.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I believe in miracles too! It really can happen, that a cancer can go away. Remember that Terry Fox would not have died of his cancer if he were alive today because we know how to beat it now. My husband’s uncle had skin cancer that turned into brain cancer. He outlived the doctor’s projected expiration date by 5 years (and he was generally unhealthy, so I imagine if he’d been healthy except for the cancer it would have been an even better outcome.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’d forgotten that about Terry Fox. That’s a good thought. She got a good long-term prognosis today, though the next year is going to be tough. Thank you for sending good stories. I really appreciate it.


  3. Amanda,I am always saddened to hear that someone else has cancer. It is so difficult to receive news that one has cancer. I know because I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma 14 years ago. It was rough when it happened. Although I am a faith believer, when cancer strikes there are many dark days but my faith got me through along with the power of medicine. My doctor was amazing and brilliant although he was very young. Each year at my annual visit we talk about his children and my granddaughter, celebrating the wonderful things of life. Miracles do happen. I have a list of people to prayer for lately so the young little girl will be added. There is a great book written by Jessica Reid Silwerski, Cancer Hates Kisses. She was diagnosed with cancer when her daughter was one I believe. Her story is a powerful one for little ones and adults.


    1. Thank you, Carol. Thanks for your story and for the part where you are still celebrating life all these years later. And thanks for the prayers. And thanks for the book recommendation. And just, well, thanks. Thanks.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I don’t even know what to say except that, I too, know someone who had a tumor, then a follow-up showed no tumor. I also have a colleague who adopted a baby from India. When he was in about 3rd grade he got leukemia. They fought it together and he is now in college – and a local spokesperson for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Sending hope your way…and hers.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Oh, Amanda, my heart goes out to you, your friend and her family. I have no stories to share, only heartfelt wishes for a miracle for that little girl.


    1. Thank you. I’m staying in the hospital with her tonight while her parents try to sleep. It means so much to imagine others thinking about her and sending love while I watch her sleep.


  6. I’m adding my prayers to all those above. I do believe in miracles. I also believe that we don’t control ultimate outcomes. The miracle to me is when, no matter the outcome, we continue to live with hope, love, and gratitude. The outcomes we desire are certainly worth all of our faith, work, prayer, and hope. All the best to you and your friend and her wonderful 4-year old.


    1. Yes! I think what I’m struggling with is that it is somehow selfish to ask for a prayer for a miracle for her. The die is cast. Everyone will do their very best and then… well, no matter what happens we will have to go on. I want so badly for her to recover, to live a wonderful long life – and she may! – but I know that I don’t control that, none of us do. And that’s what I’m trying to deal with. Anyway – not expressing myself well, but that’s where my head is. Thanks for your wishes.


  7. Amanda. I am so saddened to read this. How devastating for this little girl and all who love her. Prayers from Wisconsin!


  8. i too have stories of miracles to share….I was a pre-tween when my dad was diagnosed as terminal…..and over 60 when he died….but the only thing i can offer for this little one is my prayers for a miracle….that you have….


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s