Monday, December 6, 2010

Praising God for Answered Prayer

“Give thanks to the Lord for He is good. His love endures forever!” Psalm 136:1

Wednesday, December 1st, was surgery day, and I am thankful it is over. I knew that many were praying for me. I, too, had prayed relentlessly as I awaited this day, and I approached with a positive attitude.

Perhaps I should back up and say that I had an ultrasound the previous Wednesday (the day before Thanksgiving). The technician had a difficult time finding the tumor, partially because of a large hematoma that remained from the biopsy. When the radiologist came in, however, he repositioned me a couple of times and finally found what he pointed out as the mass. He said that it had been nearly out of range of the biopsy needle, but it looked to him like the tip of the needle had barely nicked the edge of it, which was probably why just a few cells showed up in the biopsy. I had a clear view of what he was pointing out, and it certainly looked and sounded reasonable. I was encouraged to know that it had been located. On Monday the surgeon’s office called and said that two tumors had actually been identified in the ultrasound, but they were side by side, and would be removed together.

My first procedure on the surgery day involved another ultrasound with a different radiologist. It was her job to insert a wire to locate the mass that would be removed. I could tell she was in a hurry, and she couldn’t find the tumors the other radiologist saw. I tried to tell her where they were in relation to the ceramic marker left behind to mark the biopsy area, but she didn’t want to hear it. In fact she retorted, “I don’t even know why your doctor ordered that other ultrasound. It was completely unnecessary. This one is the only one that matters!”

I told the radiologist that I wanted to be sure we had the right area because I didn’t want to go through all of this again, to which she replied, “Well, about twenty percent of our patients have to return to have more tissue removed at a later time. That’s just the way it is.” Of course this was not what I wanted to hear immediately before surgery. I was ready to back out of the whole thing! She then went ahead with the wire insertion -in a less than gentle manner- stopping at the ceramic marker. I endured several painful and anxious moments. Thankfully, John had insisted on coming in with me and was there to pat my feet and ask questions. This no doubt further annoyed the radiologist, but it was of great comfort to me!

The bright spot in that whole experience was my nurse, Terri, who took the time to tell me what a good job I was doing throughout a difficult procedure. She also told me she was praying for me, which meant a lot! She was like a cold drink of water in the middle of the desert.

Upon returning to my surgery room, my pastor and another church friend were waiting to pray with me –what a comfort it was to hear prayers spoken on my behalf, especially at a time when I was feeling so vulnerable.

I have been reading A Praying Life by Paul Miller. He speaks of helplessness as one of the most important doorways to prayer. “God wants us to come to him empty-handed, weary, and heavy-laden. Instinctively, we want to get rid of our helplessness before we come to God…Jesus isn’t asking us to do anything he isn’t already doing. He is inviting us into his life of helpless dependence on his heavenly Father.” It’s true. My pride causes me to try to get everything under control before I come to God in prayer, but in this situation it was completely beyond my ability to do so. I can testify that prayer is never more appreciated or more effective than when I am completely helpless, as I was in those moments before surgery.

I had a few minutes to speak with the surgeon, and John and I both shared some of our concerns from the needle localization experience. He did his best to calm us down and assure us that he felt confident that he would be able to get all of it, regardless of whether the specific spot was located, since he planned to take out a wider area. After the surgery, he described the area he removed as “golf ball sized.”

I came home the same evening and began my recovery.

Some friends had brought food to us, and I hadn’t eaten for 24 hours so I was hungry, but I found that my throat was extremely sore from the breathing tube insertion, so I couldn’t eat, or even drink, much. I soon learned as well that the pain medication I was given had the undesired effect of keeping me awake and wired. I didn’t sleep the first night or the next day. Finally, after the second night, I called and got a different prescription. Ah, how wonderful it felt to rest on Friday!

Late Friday afternoon I was surprised by a phone call from the surgeon’s office. The pathology report was in, and the surgery was successful! A Phyllodes tumor was removed with good margins all around it. What was seen the week before as two tumors was most likely just the unusual shape of the one. This was the best possible news! No more surgery will be required, and there is little likelihood of a recurrence, since they got a good margin around it. We are praising God for guiding the surgeon’s hand and for proving, once again, His faithfulness and love. Yes, I believe I had an excellent, skilled surgeon, as well, but his work was directed by my Father, the Great Physician.

I have a wonderful friend subbing for me in preschool until I get my strength back. In the mean time I am resting, listening to plenty of Christmas music, and doing some Christmas shopping online! My throat is still very sore, but otherwise I am healing nicely.

Thank you for your prayers and kind words. It is humbling to be the recipient of such kindness, but it is also a blessing beyond compare!


  1. Oh Sherry I could just weep with joy reading this post. Praise God for His grace and His mercy!

    Rest and let your body heal.

    Continuing to pray for you ;)

  2. All glory to the Father! Doing a happy dance. You were SO brave--and nice--I'm not sure I could have been so polite to that radiologist.

    Praying for a speedy recovery and a blessed Christmas for you and your family.

    Love you,

  3. I'm with Lisa about that radiologist!

    Still praising God for guiding the doctors and for the outcome -- what a relief!

    Hopefully your Godly and sweet demeanor touched Miss Insensitive Know-it-all Grouch!



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