Sunday, September 02, 2007

When Life Gets In the Way and the Wonder of Baptism

Health issues are always a bit of a quagmire to approach with anyone, on any level. And yet they do occur,whether we are ready for them or not. And so it is, with me, an issue of the health variety.

Almost a month ago, I discovered two lumps that seemed to just show up one day [monthly exams are part of my health routine]. They had not been there previously so it caused my eyebrows to knit [what? my eyebrows can knit and my fingers cannot...the unfairness of life!!!]. So, I make an appointment with my doctor to see what she thinks. She thinks I need the routine imaging I do once a year and an ultra sound.

I go; tests are done; I wait. The next morning my doctor wants to see me...fine, I go and not only does she confirm the two lumps I had found but a third is found, discreetly tucked further back against the chest muscle. A fine howdy-do, don't you know. So we decided that a biopsy is needed. No big deal; common routine procedure.

Finally those results come in and they are "bizarre" as the radiologist describes them. Turns out that he only biopsied one of the lumps and not all three [in 2002 I had a similar procedure except that the radiologist then biopsied both lumps in that situation; they were benign]. Well, needless to say I was not happy about that and neither was my doctor. So, there we sat, a bit peeved at the lack of thoroughness. His report had said that since the one was benign then most likely all three were the same way. Kim and I did not agree. She felt that a second opinion should be considered.

Not being one to sit on a fence and doddle, I said let's to it, and she seconded the motion. We decided on my previous surgeon, a good "breast man" [VBG!] to obtain the second opinion so she made the call and an appointment was made.

During that appointment, he and I discussed things and it was decided by both the surgeon and myself that a more involved biopsy be performed. He said, however that he would excise the lumps completely and then biopsy them afterwards, giving me peace of mind and the knowledge that these offending lumps of renegade tissue were out of my body.

SO...the big day is this coming Friday, September 7th, 8:30am sharp, PDT. I am actually looking forward to the procedure with much relief. I went through this in 2002 so I know what to expect as far as the surgery, the pain and discomfort. And I won't be going through it alone either.

My priest, Anne+, my spiritual mentor Shirley, our deacons, Carol+ and Meredith+, several retired clergy, and a bevy of Trinity women will be lifting me up in prayer that day especially. They have been for about a month now anyway but more have joined the ranks as well. I also have some far-flung friends across the nation who have also been praying and will continue to pray for me. A few of them asked me today after church if I had blogged about this yet and I had to say, in all truthfulness, I had not even considered it until they had mentioned it. And so here I am this evening, writing about it, sharing it with my cyber-Episcopal/Christian family.

And today I was so thankful to be present in church. I just love it when we have a baptism! And it was a grown up. A young grown up who is willing to proclaim her faith in front of not just us but her peers who will --as Rev Anne put it in her sermon --think that Colleen has lost her mind! But it was so beautiful and church was packed. You see, we don't usually announce baptisms [at least I didn't know about it]; they just get sprung on us and the excitement is palpable. And for the church to be packed on a holiday weekend? Well, that was even more hot coals upon our heads! Anne's+ sermon said it all really and that will be another post to follow this one. But the blessing part for me personally was that it was a great service to be at and in [yes, every Sunday at Trinity Ashland is like that--amazing!], the Sunday before my surgery. As Colleen is sealed in her baptism by holy oil, I am sealed in the prayers of those who care for me and trust in the healing power of Christ risen from the dead.

The oneness, the solidarity if you will, of a parish congregation that surrounds the newly baptized as well as the afflicted, is a glorious and humble experience. It is a congregation that stands as a shining example of what Church in the Episcopal tradition really is: all encompassing, strengthening, nourishing and supporting. It is "Christ Alive!" in those who have and do receive Him as Lord and Savior. Its' spiritual life is life-giving and life-affirming. That is what Trinity is to me. It is home, my spiritual home. It is my family. And it is because of this reality that I go forward in faith to meet my appointed medical procedure with confidence and assurance that all will be truly well.

And because I care for friends and strangers alike, I urge you all, men and women, to perform monthly breast exams and report to your physician any changes you find, because you might be saving your own life. And YES, men can get breast cancer too. So be diligent and be aware, physically and spiritually, as you continue your life journey.

Thanks for listening, and for all the sweet, little prayers...



Anonymous said...

Dear Catherine, as one who has lived through biopsies and the anxiety of result-anticipating, and has been blessed both with excellent "cancer care," and grace abounding, my prayers carry no extra "weight," but do come with understanding and genuine compassion. Mine will continue for you, lending to the rich geographical mix. In my times of special need I used over and over the wonderful prayer from prayers for use by a sick person written by Theodore Parker Ferris that begins "This is another day, O Lord I know not what it will bring." I'll bet you do too. I rejoice that you are going through all of this well-loved and well-supported.

Morgan +

Anonymous said...

Beautiful words, rich testimony of the spirit's presence at Trinity and the family it is to you and so many. And your cautions to us all will be heeded.
You will be surrounded and sealed in prayer just as Colleen experienced. And washed anew.

Ann M

Anonymous said...

You are with me in heart, mind and soul as I pray for you this week and especially Friday!
Peace and Love, Carolyn

Anonymous said...

So glad to read the blog. You have written beautifully about Trinity. You are loved, Meredith+

gartenfische said...


My prayers are with you.

You have a very healthy attitude about all this.

I really appreciate your comments about your parish. It gives me further food for thought as I contemplate my "church issues."

Jan said...

Catherine, you and your doctor are taking action and that is good. I am saying prayers. I love hearing about baptisms--such joy! Thank you for sharing.

Catherine + said...

I don't know or think there are words in existence to convey my gratitude and emotions at reading these comments thus far. God, I love them all and thank You for them...


Anonymous said...

Were moved to tears by your lovely words about Sunday's service and the stunning baptism of Coleen - it was truly glorious! And thanks so much for your words about what Trinity means to you - we concur completely!

Thanks for your passion about really important things, and for inviting us to join you in this pilgrimage to and with Our Lord. We will be especially in prayer for you this Friday - we're sure all will go well!

Huberta & Tom+

eileen said...

((((Catherine)))) My prayers will be ascending tomorrow morning!

Cecilia said...

(((Catherine))), you are in my prayers. My mom had a modified radical mastectomy in 1990 and lived another 16 years, in good health most of the time.

I will miss your voice in the blogosphere. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Love of God and the Sweet Communion of the Holy Spirit hold you close.

Pax, C.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Catherine, I join with the others in prayer that:

All Shall Be Well;
And All Shall Be Well;
And All Manner of Things Shall Be Well

Anonymous said...

Dear Catherine+ I too have lived through the anxiety of breast biopsy's with the infernal waiting. My prayer's will be with you in the morning. Go with care and know a whole bunch of folks will be winging prayers your way.


Lisa said...

Sounds like you're receiving good care. I went through almost exactly the same thing in March this year, so I understand that waiting for the surgery and results is the worst part. But, stay busy so you don't dwell on it, and before you know it the time will fly over.

Anonymous said...

"Tomorrow morning, Catherine+ of Come to the Table fame will undergo a surgical procedure to remove and biopsy several lumps in her breast.

Keep her in your prayers, peeps!"

posted originally by Eileen at Episcopalifem

Mad Priest