A Life-Changing Appointment
written by Sharon Padgett (pictured below)
March 11, 2005 is a day that I will never forget. I had been having trouble
swallowing and my primary doctor thought perhaps I had a polyp. An
endoscopy was scheduled and I was at the office to get my results. Never in
my wildest dreams was I prepared for what I was about to hear. “Sharon, the
results are not good. You have esophageal cancer and you are in the fight
of your life.” To be very honest I remember very little after that. A call
was made to an oncological surgeon and, subsequently, an appointment was
made for me to see him ASAP. I was in total shock and really feeling
nothing at all.
Upon leaving the office I called a dear friend to tell her my results. Disbelief again. I hung up the phone (I
was driving home) and within seconds my pastor called. He talked with me all
the way home. I can’t tell you anything about the conversation that occurred
except I am sure that he prayed with me. I was still processing the diagnosis.
Shock was slowly being replaced with fear. God, how could this be? I hadn’t
smoked in 29 years, didn’t drink, yes I was overweight (which turned out to be a
blessing) but had always taken good care of myself.
When I got home, I went straight to my bedroom, fell on the bed and began to cry. I didn’t want to die. I had
three young grandchildren that I wanted to be around for. I had a wonderful
family and great friends that I didn’t want to leave yet. There were still so
many things I wanted to do. WHY, GOD, WHY? As I sat on the bed pleading with
God for my life I looked on the wall next my bed and saw the wall hanging that
says, “Be still and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10).” For an instant this was
so comforting. Then reality set in again. I believe that I spent the rest of
the day on the phone calling family and friends. All I wanted was to hear
voices of those that I loved. I also asked to be put on prayer chains and for
their individual prayers. At this time I was unable to pray.
The next six weeks were filled
with batteries of tests, doctor’s appointments and minor surgery. I continued
to work and went on with my everyday activities as best I could. At this point
in time I was able to pray but the prayers became very selfish. I stopped
praying for others and focused only on myself.
I opted not to have the surgical
procedure that was suggested that I have. I also refused a feeding tube. I
just had a ‘feeling’ that everything was going to be okay - not great but
alright. On May 2, I began to undergo chemotherapy and 36 bouts of radiation.
During this period of time I became extremely ill, lost 40 pounds, had no
strength, lost my hair, had insomnia and became extremely depressed. My diet
consisted only of water, cantaloupe and watermelon. I couldn’t tolerate
anything else. Even though I could not pray I know that God had surrounded me
with amazing prayer warriors. They carried me through this trying time. God
continued to put people in my life that ministered to me. Family, friends, and
neighbors began to take on my daily tasks, keeping my refrigerator stocked with
the food I could eat, taking me to treatment, cleaning my apartment, getting my
mail, sending cards and gifts, giving communion, encouraging phone calls and
most importantly fervent prayers.
All these acts of kindness
sustained me. I also have to say that I had an incredible medical team,
oncologist, radiation oncologist, primary doctor and the nurses that assisted
them. They were always there when I needed them.
On July 10, 2005, I had another
endoscopy and was pronounced CANCER-FREE. I was beside myself. God had watched
over me as he had promised. Everything would be great from now on. WRONG! My
body was still fighting all the chemicals that were in my body and I became
extremely depressed. I cried all the time. This was when I really became
angry. “God you healed me of the cancer so why am I still feeling so bad?
Don’t leave me now.” I was taking all kinds of medication that seemed to
interact negatively with each other. This lasted almost four weeks. I could
not function. I was encouraged to fly to Maryland to visit by brother and
sister-in-law. A friend came to pack for me because I couldn’t even concentrate
long enough to fill a suitcase. I needed a wheelchair to travel the airport.
While in Maryland I began to be weaned off most of the medication and began to
regain a lot of who I was before. My strength returned, my mental state
returned, the tears stopped and I began to connect with God again. My family
prayed with me, monitored my meds and just loved me when I wasn’t loveable.
The most important thing that my
sister-in-law did was send me a book ‘When God and Cancer Meet’ by Lynn Eib. It
is a great book that gives hope when dealing with the insidious disease. I have
taken this on as a ministry. Whenever I hear of someone who has cancer I will
send them a copy it (with their permission, of course). If you know of anyone
that may benefit from this book please let me know and I will be happy to send
it to them.
I returned back to work in
September and was pretty much back to a full life. Another God thing that
happened was my employer kept a position for me (although not my former
position) for five months and two individuals paid my health insurance for two
of the five months. God is so good!!!
As you can
see I ran the gamut of emotion - shock, fear, anger, disbelief, but I can
honestly say that I could feel God’s presence even in my darkest hours. I am
not saying that it was easy but I knew He was there. I saw Him in the eyes and
smiles, love and compassion of those he placed around me. Thank you God. You
are so Awesome.
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