Friday, 29 January 2010

Can we make miracles happen?

As you all know, I have a lifelong friend who has cancer, the big C; the word everyone is afraid to mention and the “condition” hardly anybody ever wants to openly talk about because half the world population doesn’t know how to deal with it; especially when a loved one has it.

Most of the time, we’d rather pussy foot around the subject; whispering behind corners, feeling sorry for our loved ones and ourselves, feeling a little helpless and maybe even feeling somewhat like useless bystanders rather than approach the matter in an openly and natural manner.

We put the lives of our loved ones, and our lives, in the hands of doctors and specialists or Gods of our chosen faith hoping that someone or something somewhere will make a miracle happen. In some contrived way, I guess we hope that if a miracle happens then we’ll never have to deal with what actually is and what potentially might yet come.

We forget though that doctors and specialists can make wrong predictions. They are only human. They are not infallible. They do not have all the answers. The human body is the most complex machine there is. Even in this day and age, we still do not know how it works in a concise manner. Moreover, we still don’t know how much the power of the mind can influence the body.

Linsey gave you her story in an earlier post, last year in November, on my wall. To give you a very brief lowdown. She had both kidneys removed along with part of her spleen, pancreas, one adrenal gland and some lymph nodes. By law of average, her chances of survival were very slim from thereon in, (according to her doctors), but she’s still here. Thank goodness! She’s living proof that doctors’ predictions can be wrong. She’s also living proof that the mind and the will are stronger than any disease. That is a miracle!

In November, she told us the cancer has now spread to the liver and that time is running out. I have to question if this diagnosis is just another obstacle to be overcome. Linsey tells me to be a realist and says you can’t avoid the facts staring you in the face. She quite openly speaks about the songs to be sung at the party we’re suppose to have at her funeral. However, after her recent visit to Madeira, something in me can’t help but question whether she can continue to make miracles happen.

Linsey had always wanted to come to Madeira to visit me but with one thing and another, it hadn’t ever been possible. Yet, in a very moment when the impossible seems truly impossible, it not only became possible but very much a reality. Linsey came to Madeira with her husband Paul.

Linsey told you she’d arrived at the airport in Madeira with her pride hurt because she got here in a wheelchair; meaning with airport assistance. Yet, what I saw was a beautiful, brave young woman who’d gotten on a plane despite being warned her blood pressure was too low to travel. She’d had dialysis that morning; prior to the trip. She was warned against travelling. Yet, against all odds, she was determined to make it - and she did. That was a miracle.

Even the rain that had been falling for two months stopped in time for her arrival. That was another small miracle from up above. Or, was it the collective prayers said by a beautiful group of friends of mine who'd been rooting for Linsey to have a perfect time on the island?

I’d arranged a room for Linsey and Paul in the hotel where I work. Yet, my beautiful colleagues, without being asked, took it one step further and made her experience even more perfect by upgrading her to a suite; giving her what she describes as her “Pretty Woman” moment. The text I got said she felt like a movie star. Is it another little miracle or is it the collective wish of beautiful people who’s only wish was to help fulfill someone’s dream and make it perfect.

There were times she felt tired and needed to rest back at the hotel, but they were nothing compared to the effort she put into walking more than she’d apparently walked in the last two months. That was another miracle of mind over matter.

There were times I noticed the tiredness and frustration in her eyes that she was desperately trying to hide with a smile, but they paled in comparison to the radiant glow and the emotions she showed when she saw the dolphins around the boat we went out on. When we were given the all clear to go in the sea and swim with them, wild horses couldn’t have held her back. She was the second person off the boat and in the sea. All the apprehensions, fears, anxiety and nerves she’d felt the day before, about the trip, had gone. It was another miracle of mind over matter.

The sea may have been cold but it had calmed down considerably in comparison to what it had been over the previous two months, and we had plenty of sunshine; another miracle from above? Or, more answered prayers? Of course, we mustn’t forget the miracle itself of actually swimming with dolphins in the wild.

Within that same miracle, there was another one. Whilst Linsey and I floated there hand in hand, just the two of us, watching the dolphins swim under us, next to us and in front of our faces, the dolphins apparently were circling around us. As Linsey questions in her note, were they protecting us? Or, could it be that they knew this was her lifetime dream and that they alone could make it come true?

We heard them communicating to one another or were they actually speaking to us, as well, in their own way. They put on a show that marvelled even our gracious biologist and captain who hadn’t seen the dolphins in such a joyful mood for quite some time. Were we witnessing another miracle in the making? I believe so.

The biggest joy for me was watching Linsey eat. Seeing her eat a little more than she apparently normally manages to eat was, for me, a miracle in itself. I was willing each mouthful to go down and stay on her. I never thought I’d hear myself say that!

The bravest moment of all was when she had to face having dialysis in Madeira; with unknown doctors and nurses. It was the first time she’d had dialysis abroad. Like she said “Needs must”. She could have walked away and waited till she got home but she didn’t. No matter how scary it got at one point, she stuck it out and faced it head on.

Yet, no matter how scary it was to face for the first time, it’s also a symbol and testimony to the fact that Linsey and people with needs like Linsey don’t have to hide and be house bound or country bound simply because they need treatments.

It’s not easy. It’s painful. It’s scary. Yet, for the love of her husband and her little girls, she gets out of bed every morning and chooses to fight to live. I know she would like to climb mountains (metaphorically speaking) but just being awake and there to give them her love every day is a miracle; just like it is for any one of us.

Surviving the way she has for this long may be a miracle; then again it may not. It could just be the sheer determination, will-power and love driven resolve of a young woman who has so much to live for. My point is, when we find a window of joy that is bigger than the fears and the illnesses themselves, no matter what they may be, our mind can drive us with an incredible strength that even we’re unaware of. It can push us beyond what the physical body is experiencing and maybe, just maybe, it’s enough to hold on to to make miracles happen.

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