At 2:45 pm on Monday afternoon I got the call. “Mrs. Barron?” “Yes.” “This is Trudie from Dr. Albares office.” “Yes?” “We got the results back from your ultrasound and there was an obstruction in your liver and they couldn’t see in the left lobe completely. The radiologist recommended a Cat scan but Dr. Albares wants to do a MRI.” She said it all without taking a breath.
Maybe she could make me believe the next words were the most important. “Which hospital would you like for us to schedule the MRI? Flowers or the Medical Center?” “Uh…Flowers I guess. That’s where I had the chest x-ray.” I heard my voice say. “But what did you say about my liver? I didn’t know you tested my liver.” “Oh yes ma’m. The ultrasound to test your gallbladder also checked your pancreas, kidneys and liver. We just need to set up an MRI for you.”
I took a deep breath. Enunciating every syllable, “Okay, and exactly what is wrong with my liver?” A slower response followed. She knew I had caught on. “Yes ma’m, I’ll read you the report.” Papers shuffled. “There is a hepatic mass in the left lobe 3.6 cm long.” Or did she say 6.3? At this point I wasn’t listening. Mass on my liver. I’d heard enough. But I managed one more question. “Does Dr Bennett know? I’m in his office now.” “No ma’m, not yet, we just got the report. Dr. Albares wanted me to go ahead and schedule the MRI.”
Moments later Dr. Bennett walked into his exam room where I sat shivering. I was at his office for a headache. Let me repeat that, a headache. I have a history of unsuccessfully treating the flu, strep throat, poison ivy, a broken bone, and an intestinal parasite for weeks before making the trip to a doctor. Now here I was for the second time in twelve days. I only went those days ago for chest soreness accompanied by the 101.8 faulty reading of a fever strip at the school.
The fever didn’t register on the thermometer at the doctor’s office. Despite the discomfort in my chest, with no fever, I’d felt silly for being there. However, I dutifully reported every accumulated symptom (I save them up) I’d had in the last two years. Dr. Bennett wanted me to see a gastroenterologist. “Sounds like you might have an inflamed esophagus. We need for them to check you out.” He patted my knee. “Miss Jan we’ll get you fixed up and feeling better real soon.” he said before walking out that day.
Now Dr. Bennett stood before me with chart in hand. It was almost 3 pm for a 1:30 “never made before” headache appointment. God’s timing. My doctor, my deacon, a fellow prayer warrior, and Christian Brother asking me what could he do for me today.
In a quiet voice, I said the unbelievable words. “Garrett, I have a mass on my liver. Dr. Albares’ office has just called me.” His eyes narrowed and face stiffened as if the air had suddenly left the room. It was only a brief millisecond. As quickly as the shock came, it was replaced with reassurance. Thumbing through my chart he explained that my blood work earlier looked good. There was another thing it could be that wasn’t so dangerous. Hemo something. He was kind and calming. More importantly, I knew he would pray.
Driving away I was in awe of God’s Grace and Mercy. How in the world did He put me in the exam room of this doctor, with my phone on of all things, (I normally put it on silent in the waiting room) at the exact moment I was to get the news? I said, “God, if it wasn’t so serious, this could be funny how you pulled this off. Me all aggravated that it is 2 and then 2:30 and I hadn’t seen the doctor. All the while, on your timing, for MY good, I was there.” Mental note: Be patient. I can’t ever see the big picture.
I’ve gotten “the call” a couple of times before. A lump in the breast requiring another exam, followed by a biopsy which proved clear. A pap smear with abnormal cells 3 times in a row followed by a “procedure’ to fix it. Both incidences frightening. But Monday’s call was different. You don’t hear of people walking around with a mass on the liver. Well, at least not for long. Typically the end to cancer of the liver comes much quicker and more assuredly than the other types of cancer. Suddenly, I was Tessie Hutchinson in The Lottery. I reminded God that I was not afraid of dying in the least. I would be so happy to be with him but it was being sick that I didn’t want do. Not the suffering.
There is never, ever a good time for this news. But some weeks are worse than others. Tyler, my nephew, was having his Eagle Scout awards ceremony Tues night in Atlanta. My Daddy had been a Boy Scout leader for 16 years for many young boys. I knew he and Mother were beside themselves with pride. We are all so proud of Tyler. There was no way I was going to put a blanket over this occasion. Deborah, my sister’s birthday was Wednesday. Ashley, my youngest, was having a MRI on Wednesday for a “test”. Not that anything had been found, but still. Allison, my oldest was too far from home to hear this news. Andrew’s preschool Grandparents Day was coming up Friday. Secretly, in my heart I planned to catch an Iowa bound plane to go with him.
The one thing I knew I could count on to comfort me would be my Bible Study, perhaps something about the healing power of Jesus. But that was not to be. Tuesday was “Be ye perfect, even as your Father is perfect.” Wednesday: “we were created for God’s purpose and glory and not our on.” I swapped devotionals, it didn’t help. No amazing healing verses were the devotional for the day. I didn’t want to look up the healing verses. I wanted God to show me. So I tried just letting the Bible fall open to the words of comfort. I would have even been happy with the Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego story but nothing doing.
I went to work Tuesday and Wednesday while the Holy Spirit whispered “Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things..” To have clear direction of what to concentrate on when you absolutely cannot think is amazing. God is so good.
On Thursday, MRI day, my devotion was about suffering, “a servant is not greater than the Master”. Tearfully, my apprehension started climbing. Yet that day blessings flowed all over me. The MRI staff was so kind and compassionate. Jack and I had lunch together and found the perfect flooring for the den. Allison chatted on about getting ready for her yearly closet stuff sale. Jack’s mother’ surprised me with a visit at the college that night. She had no idea. Carter’s prayer Ashley overheard on his monitor. “God, thank you for mommy and daddy, and tigger” (his stuffed animal) and some other stuff she couldn’t understand. But I believed it was for me. Each little thing helped me get through that hour.
Friday was the day I was to receive the news.
Friday’s Devotion. Jesus’ Road to Jerusalem. He . . . said to them, ’Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem . . . ’ —Luke 18:31
Nothing ever diverted our Lord on His way to Jerusalem. He was following God’s will. He was going to suffer and die despite His follower’s belief that He was going to be crowned King.
. there they crucified Him . . .” (Luke 23:33). That is what happened when our Lord reached Jerusalem, and that event is the doorway to our salvation. The saints, however, do not end in crucifixion; by the Lord’s grace they end in glory. In the meantime our watchword should be summed up by each of us saying, “I too go ’up to Jerusalem.” My Utmost for His Highest
Me on the road to my Jerusalem. How would I go? Absolved to His perfect will or wavering in my faith? What once seemed so unbelievable, I could now at least slightly entertain as perhaps my road. After contemplating these words, I needed someone with me. I finally called Deborah.
She was leaving her house for a meeting in Dawson. “Can you stop by the house for a minute?” I asked. She hesitated, “well I can but I need to leave right now to be at the meeting. What do you need?” “I have a mass on my liver.” ‘I’ll be right there.” I don’t remember saying bye or hanging up. I just knew I hated the heaviness she was feeling right then.
I dreaded when she would walk in the door and our eyes would meet. But Deborah being Deborah I didn’t have to worry. Immediately when the door flung open, running past me she threw up her hand and said, “I am so sorry but I am so sick. I’ll be right back.” The bathroom door slammed.
I remembered the time when I was called to the emergency room because her son, Tre, had nearly cut off his big toe. Tre came out by himself hobbling on crutches through the double doors followed by his mother slumped over in a wheelchair being attended to by two nurses. One was holding her hand. There have been many, many occasions like this with her. She doesn’t do emergencies very well. The memory made my heart laugh that some things are constant.
Deborah called the school in Dawson. She was going to tell them she would be late for the meeting but before she could, they said 2 of the people for the meeting were not at school that day and the third person was so swamped. Could they possibly reschedule? So the Lord gave us that time to be together.
We prayed, talked, went over events leading up to the week. And then we just moved on. We looked at paint samples and headed to the paint store. Early afternoon, my phone rang. Trudie from the doctor’s office said it so quickly. “Mrs. Barron, we have the results from your MRI and it is a mass of blood vessels. A hemangioma. Dr. Albares will talk to you about it Tuesday but it is not malignant.” I don’t remember hanging up from her either. Gratefulness flooded my soul.
Later that night, I was thanking God and praising Him with every breath. I could not thank him enough! After several hours of this I felt His spirit speak to me. “Nothing has changed. No time has been added to your clock. Your appointment is still the same. My will for you is the same. You are still on your road to Jerusalem. Walk faithfully.”