I would like to end our talk with a story of angels, of faith and of love. It is my story. It begins with the love of my wife; it ends with her love and the strength, the support, and the life giving energy that she is to me.
My story begins with a spot – a spot on my shoulder. Each day I would look at this spot and then one day, it changed. I recall my wife telling me to wear sunblock on numerous occasions, but I am a doctor, so I could never get cancer.
But I remembered ABCDE for skin lesions and my little spot met all 5 of them:
A is for Asymmetry
B is for Border
C is for Color
D is for Diameter
E is for Evolving
I had my spot removed and waited for the result. And then I got the phone call.
Many of you can remember that phone call. It changes your life. You can tell by the sound of the voice that the news is bad. I heard those words: “You have cancer”.
I had melanoma. My heart sank to the floor but my thoughts rose to the sky.
I thought of God and wondered how He was going to help my kids and my wife. Were my kids going to be left alone without their daddy? Who was going to help their mother take them to soccer games, or help them with their homework, or teach them right from wrong? Who was going to protect my baby girls from all those evil boys? And who was going to teach my boys the ways of women? Did I have enough life insurance so my wife could keep our house and still send the kids to college? And my wife, was she really going to be a widow?
And then I cried, from my head to my toes, I cried. I thought maybe it was a cry of fear but I think it was more a cry of prayer, a prayer to God to let me live so that my wife would not be alone; a cry so that my kids would still have their daddy. I realized that I had lived a full, wonderful, fulfilling life and I came to terms that if God wanted to call me home, even though I was not ready, I was not afraid to be called home. I was ready for His will to be done. But I didn’t want my family to live life without me. I was scared for them and that was why I really cried.
And you know what helped me the most? My wife’s hand – just holding her hand and feeling her love got me through it all. I realized that your lover does not have to be strong for you; your lover does not have to fight your battles for you. Your lover just needs to let you know that you are loved and that you are not alone. There can be so much power in a mere touch and unbelievable tranquility in a hug.
And then I met an Angel. While jogging one day, I stopped to speak to my brother on the phone and talk about my upcoming surgery. As I hung up my phone, a teenager in a sweat shirt walked up to me. He wore a sports sweatshirt that had a logo with wings. He overheard my telephone conversation and wanted me to know that he was going to pray for me, that he would pray that my surgery would go well, and that I would be cured. My heart felt light and I smiled. I had met my guardian angel.
The day of surgery came. There was checking in and signing forms and putting on a hospital gown and getting stuck with needles and waiting. Oh my gosh, the waiting! Without coffee or food!
And then my surgeon came into the pre-operative room and he brought some technology. I was going to have a sentinel lymph node biopsy and he needed to use a “Geiger” counter to find my lymph nodes, so he wanted to check me prior to surgery. He turned on the machine, but it was only half working. He kept hitting it and I thought, “Grrreat. Here we are with nanotechnology and robots and my surgeon is kicking a ten year old machine”. Well, technology is great, but it is the skill and judgment of the physician that wins the day.
My wife kissed me as I went off to surgery and the next thing I remembered was her holding my hand yelling at me to breathe and wake up. I have never been so happy to have my wife yell at me.
And then she held my hand, and gave me the sweetest, most loving hug that there ever was.