Overnight, last night, it became harder to breathe and her pain worsened. A chest x-ray showed almost no air getting to her left lung. Hoping there was fluid that could be removed, she had a CT scan today; but there was no fluid, only tumor. Tumor that hadn’t been there 10 days ago.
I went in to the hospital today, to see her one last time before she went home. We watched some of the football game together. We talked about her kindergarten teacher, a brave woman who was a tremendous support before she died of breast cancer in August. She told me about the tombstone she wants – a softball diamond with a girl sliding into home plate, with a caption that reads, “Safe at home!”
But rather than complaining, or asking “why me?” the young woman and her family had different plans to discuss. Their community had raised a large sum of money to help cover medical expenses, and there is going to be a lot left over. As her father said, “The community has done a lot for us. We need to give something back.” So, on the day she was going home, my patient was deciding how she was going to help her community.
They decided to give some money to a fund established in memory of her kindergarten teacher. They decided to give some money to a neighbor who, because of sudden illness, had fallen months behind on his mortgage payments. And they talked about how they could still contribute to Ewing sarcoma research. “Just because this is happening to me, doesn’t mean I don’t want to keep trying to help,” she said.
I hope that when I am in her situation, I can show half as much grace as she did this afternoon.