Back in October of last year it was discovered that my wife Rosanne had developed Mantel Cell Lymphoma, possibly as a result of drugs she had been taking to counteract Inflammatory Colitis. "What else can go wrong for this poor girl?" I remember thinking at the time. We were devastated but I was bolstered by the degree of acceptance and determination in Rosanne's demeanor. Cancer in the form of non-Hodgkins lymphoma, it seemed, was just one more health setback for someone already so sick yet characteristically optimistic and full of life.
Her case was referred to Oncologist Dr. Selay Lam, at the London Region Cancer Centre. Dr. Lam, who has a reputation for thinking "outside the box," pinpointed a 25-centimeter tumor on the left side of Rosanne's bowel and was quick to prescribe chemotherapy treatment consisting of seven-hour drips of Bendamustine once a month, followed by two hours of the drug riTUimab within 24 hours the next day. We were told that while Mantel Cell Lymphoma was treatable, it could not be cured.
A second full-body cat scan was ordered recently for Rosanne following her fourth two-day chemo treatment and a smiling Dr. Lam broke the news to us two weeks ago that the tumor in her bowel had completely disappeared and her latest blood test was clear of any signs of lymphoma. Stopping short of the word "miracle", Dr. Lam said: "The tumor is gone and Bendamustine obviously did its job. I am so pleased with how well you have responded."
"I prayed every day for a miracle!" Rosanne exclaimed, adding "You can't expect a miracle if you don't ask for one! Thank you doctor for the role you have played in all of this!"
As ordered by Dr.Lam, Rosanne had her fifth series of chemo treatments on Tuesday and Wednesday of last week and she has a sixth scheduled for the month of May... After that she will have a different type of chemo administered once every three months for the next two years as maintenance to make sure the lymphoma stays away. In recent days she has been extremely tired and relies totally on oxygen for her COPD affliction. When the lymphoma reared its ugly head Rosanne was summarily dismissed by her Gastroenterologist and Colitis has flared up again but she is buoyed by the knowledge that her cancer is gone and that she has one less thing to worry about.
I have delayed in writing about Rosanne's remarkable story, almost like I could not believe it myself -- had I not lived it with her. Many of our friends and family have prayed along with Rosanne and there is no doubt in my mind that that too has helped.
Curious, I asked Rosanne what she had been repeatedly saying to God in her prayers. She explained that she always begins her prayers by expressing love of God and being thankful for the blessings in her life, especially the members of her family. She mentions, in particular, those who are in poor health or in need comforting in any way...It is then customary for her to end her prayer by saying: "Dear God, the last prayer is for me. I am asking for a miracle in curing the tumor in my bowel. Please help me God...I need you. I need a miracle. I love you. Thank you Lord. --Amen."
Just a simple prayer by a woman who heretofore has asked for very little in life outside of love -- for herself and others. On this occasion she got a miracle and it was deserved. For that, I too thank God.
As Rosanne has said more than once, "You can't expect a miracle if you don't ask for one!"