Life is short. I’ve been reminded of this a lot recently. The latest iteration came a week ago when my family received word that a dear friend was diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer.
First came the shock of the news. In the last month, Miss Pat hadn’t been feeling 100 percent. She had lost weight, was feeling nauseous, and generally fatigued. It wasn’t until the mother of one of her preschoolers (who is also a nurse) noticed she appeared jaundiced that she called the doctors. That was last Wednesday. The doctor immediately had lab work done on Wednesday morning and scheduled Miss Pat for an appointment Wednesday afternoon. After seeing the lab results, he immediately scheduled a CT scan for Thursday morning. The CT scan showed a three- to four-inch long tumor on her pancreas and tumors on both lungs and her liver. The tumor on her pancreas was cutting off the ability for bile to move as needed so she was slowly being poisoned, hence the jaundiced appearance. Not good.
Quickly following that, the family internist referred her to a surgeon who scheduled time Friday morning to insert a stent into the bile duct to allow ease in movement. While there, the surgeon did a biopsy on the lymph nodes as well as cut a few nerves to relieve any pain. The biopsy results showed that the cancer had spread into her lymph nodes.
At this point, Miss Pat and family hadn’t seen an oncologist yet. However, the prognosis from all doctors wasn’t good — weeks to just a few months is the timeframe she has been given.
The amazing part of this story to me is how strong Miss Pat has been through the biggest trial of her life. She is a preschool teacher — calm, soothing, patient, sweet spirited but certainly not one prone to public speaking. In the week since her diagnosis, Miss Pat has chosen to share her testimony with all her friends, family, co-workers, church family, etc. Our prayer and her’s is for healing, but as she said to me that healing may not be an earthly one. God’s choice for healing her may be by taking her heaven and she is prepared.
Every minute of every day since her diagnosis, Miss Pat has taken time to tell everyone around her how much they mean to her, what their love and friendship has meant and what joy each person has brought to her life. She has taken everyone who walked through her front door aside and spent a few minutes alone, sharing her hopes and prayers for the future. She has asked us all to watch over her family and grandchildren. In this time of illness and pain, she isn’t thinking of herself. She’s focused on preparing those around her for her eventual passing.
The thing about Miss Pat for me is that she has always been my second mother. My mom and her have been friends since childhood. Our families always vacationed together, we spent more time with each other than most immediate families do. As I’ve struggled with my sadness at this news this past week, I’ve spent a great deal of time in prayer and seeking guidance from above for how I can support Miss Pat, Big Dave, their kids and grandkids, my mom and dad, etc. I’ve also realized that because life is so short, we all need to treat each day we remain on earth as our last — take time to share with our families and friends how much they mean to us. I hope anyone who reads this takes that to heart and takes a moment to call or visit a loved one, forgive those who need to be forgiven, restore relationships that need to be restored.