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Facing Tomorrow

In January, 1986, our family faced what may have been our most difficult trial. Most people remember that month as the time when the space shuttle Challenger exploded shortly after liftoff. Our family remembers the day of the Challenger explosion as the day the world fell apart for Mom, for it was the day she was diagnosed with leukemia.

A little over one year after this event, Mom put her story and thoughts about her experience down on paper. Here, in her own words, is Mom's story.


FACING TOMORROW

My name is Marjorie F. My family and I have lived in New Hampshire for 28 years, 18 of them in our present house in a small town in the southern part of the state. My husband, Bob, and our children have had our share of good times, bad times and tragedy. Our oldest son, Alan, died of complications due to the dread incurable disease of cystic fibrosis in June, 1981. He was 23 years old. It took time to get our lives back on track. Only with God’s sustaining grace and prayer support of our friends and family, were we able to put one foot in front of the other and go on with our lives. At that time, our other son, Byron, was in his second year of college at University of Lowell in Massachusetts. Our only daughter, Sylvia, started seventh grade in a new school that same fall. A couple years later, my husband’s mother came to New Hampshire from Florida, and became my husband’s responsibility. She is a resident at a local health care center.

After Mother F. arrived in New Hampshire, our lives once again settled into a busy pattern of activities at home, school, and church. In the fall of 1985, I was quite busy with running my home and working half days in the First Baptist Church (Milford) office. I was also doing some volunteer signing for the deaf at some of our church services. Concurrent with these activities, I was chairman of the board of the Christian kindergarten which was operated out of the facilities of our church.

My various activities kept me quite busy, but there was always time for music. I was singing in a ladies trio, and one or two church choirs. I was instrumental in getting the church secretaries of the Milford area together once a month. My daughter had recently gotten her drivers license and was driving herself the 50 mile round trip to her school in Derry.

Our 1985 December was as busy as anyone else’s. Choir rehearsals, concerts, trio, solos – and a trip to the dentist. I had a routine check. They did a visual oral exam and all appeared normal. I was told I needed a tooth capped and the dentist began working on it. After Christmas I noticed my gum was bleeding a little. On January 20th, the dentist treated the gum appropriately.

JANUARY, 1986

In January 1986, I noticed a couple bruises appear on my body in places where I could not remember hitting myself. One day I took my boots off, and there were bruises on the front of my ankles. This did seem a little strange and. I pondered it. I went to the secretaries meeting as planned, and signed for the deaf man in church as scheduled. I felt fine. Then came the annual business meeting of the church, to which I always go, take notes, and report back in the church newsletter which I edit. At that meeting the church voted to hire an assistant to help in the church office – a fact which soon became very important. I figured I would go to the doctor about those bruises after my dentist appointment at which he was to finish capping my tooth.

On the morning of January 27, 1986, after brushing my teeth, I noticed the gum would not stop bleeding. At work, my gum was bleeding slowly all morning. I called the dentist and told him I didn’t think he should work on the tooth because the gum was bleeding. He said to come anyway and he would take a look at it. That afternoon at the dentist’s office, Dr. Green noticed something amiss. He said for me to relax a bit while he checked into some things. He called another dentist and told him what he saw in my mouth. They agreed that Dr. Green should not touch it, that there was some health problem there beyond the dentist’s jurisdiction. What Dr. Green saw was red blood spots on my tongue and gums. There were red dots on my legs too. Dr. Green came back to tell me there was a problem. He said he would call my doctor to check it out. He called Dr. Haas, our family doctor, in Nashua. I believe now, they suspected then what was wrong. Dr. Haas instructed Dr. Green to tell me to go to the hospital in Nashua immediately for blood tests. No, I was not allowed to go home first.

Well, I was supposed to go to a trio rehearsal, so I stopped by the church to inform everyone what I was to do. Our church music director, Dr. Donald Brown, was at the church. He prayed with me and said he would tell the others.

NASHUA MEMORIAL HOSPITAL

I went directly to Nashua Memorial Hospital for the blood tests. I was hungry afterward, so had a sandwich at the hospital, then went to Dr. Haas’ office. Upon examination, he said I was not doing too well, and he wanted me admitted to the hospital immediately for more tests. “Could I go home first?” I asked. “No, you are a walking disaster. You have a blood problem and could have a blood vessel burst anytime anywhere in your body. And further, I want you to walk to the hospital, not drive. I will see you there this evening.” This bit of news was indeed sobering. I felt it would all be over in a day or two. I called my husband and told him. He said he would visit me that night and would also tell the children.

When I arrived at my assigned hospital room, I found that I knew the lady in the next bed. She was Wendy Stotz, editor of the Milford Cabinet, the local newspaper. I had seen her many times when taking church notices to the newspaper office. We chatted. She was to go home the next day.

Dr. Haas arrived and informed me that he would have to do a bone marrow biopsy. He explained that it would feel like a horse kicked you, but then it would be all over. I’m sure now, he suspected then, that I had a form of leukemia. The biopsy was as he said. I was slightly drugged for it, but felt everything. I asked him what he was looking for. He said mono, something else I can’t remember, and leukemia. That’s when I started to cry to the Lord for peace and deliverance from this nightmare. Dr. Haas was to tell me the results in the morning. Of course I called the prayer chains in my church. My husband also knew what they were looking for. He went home and did some reading on diseases mentioned.

It was about 11 a.m. on January 28, 1986, I received the news that I had acute leukemia. In the next breath, the doctor said he was phoning the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston to get me a bed. That was the best place to go for treatment of cancer in New England. Of course I had heard of leukemia – and dreaded it. I was stunned to say the least. Dana Farber I had never heard of. I called my husband at work. He talked to the doctor over the phone, then told me he would meet me at Dana Farber that evening. I was to be taken by ambulance.

I called my friends and tearfully told them the news, and not to come to the hospital to see me because the ambulance would be there soon to take me to the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. They, in turn, put it to prayer and started the prayer chains, told my pastors and anyone else they saw.

I was sent a lunch tray, but I didn’t have much appetite. My roommate, Wendy, in the next bed, was very sympathetic. She had her own problems, having just come through major surgery. She went home about that time. I was alone. I couldn’t cry. I prayed asking God to be with me. It still seemed like a nightmare. When would I wake up? Would God please heal me instantly? I turned on the television for some diversion, and there I saw the replay several times, of the space shuttle, Challenger, blowing up in mid-air. I felt like my life had blown up too. Dr. Brown made it down to the hospital and prayed with me. Before he left, two of my friends came walking in. Then we all cried. It was all so unbelievable. My friends brought with them assurances of love and prayer for me, and a flower to carry. While Peggy and Jean were praying with me, the ambulance men came in to get me and we were stopped mid-prayer.

DANA FARBER CANCER INSTITUTE

Arriving at the Dana Farber, I was wheeled in and there I saw several people in beds, gaunt and wasted away. I remember thinking, “That’s what I’m going to look like. How can I bear it?” I was taken to a room on the twelfth floor, east. As soon as I was in the room, there were several people milling about. I remembered the words of my doctor before I left Nashua, “No matter how bad it gets, remember, those nurses, doctors, and aides are there to help you. Your stay there will be more pleasant if you keep a positive attitude.”

Howie, an aide, said he would get me whatever I wanted. He was taking my temperature, etc. My assigned nurse, Elaine, came in and organized everything. They brought me a beautiful meal which I tried to eat, but couldn’t. People kept coming in talking to me. Bob arrived and the doctor assigned to my case came soon after. Then the talk began. My doctor, Judy Garber, said, “We have to take a bone marrow biopsy again tonight.” (Two nights in a row!) I grimaced, but had to go through with it. The chemotherapy treatment and its side effects were discussed, other things were discussed and decisions made. I signed papers at this time.

I had the biopsy. Doctor Judy Garber is a small lady and she had a hard time getting the needle in far enough through my dense bones. The nurses were gathered about my bed, talking to me and holding my hand, and keeping me from panic. The needle had to go through the hip bone to the marrow, then draw out some of the marrow. This, then, is analyzed to see what type leukemia is there. The chemotherapy treatment was to begin the next day.

MEANWHILE, BACK HOME

Back home, my friend, Peggy J., graciously went to do my work at the church office. She had to reschedule the signers for the deaf, and get substitutes for all the things I was active in. I asked her to keep the cards and letters coming. My husband had to visit my daughter’s school. My husband had to inform my out-of-state brothers and sisters, who in turn put the matter to prayer in their homes and churches. The prayer net was expanding. The dear people from my church began bringing food in for my family. My children rallied to the tasks before them, to keep the home running smoothly

GLIMMER OF HOPE

The next day, January 29, I was told what type leukemia I had. I can’t recall the name. I remember Dr. Garber saying it was a type for which they had the highest recovery rate. THAT fact was a glimmer of hope for recovery. I suppose I really did not expect to get well. My mind was still in a whirl. “why me, God?” went through my mind. “Why not you?” came back to me. I was prepared to leave this life. “It’s okay Lord, I will submit to whatever I have to. Let me be a testimony to Your love and grace.” From then on, I dealt with what happened about an hour at a time.

Bob came in that evening to meet with the doctor and me. More discussion, More decisions. I accepted the decisions without question. One decision in particular was to have a Hickman line put in the vein in my neck. A tube goes in at the side of the neck and comes out the chest wall which makes it possible to receive blood transfusions, medicine, or liquid food through this line (tubing). It certainly didn’t sound very pleasant.

BRIGHAM AND WOMEN’S HOSPITAL

The Hickman line was inserted the same day. It was minor surgery – so minor, I only received local anesthesia. It was necessary for me to be taken to another hospital for this procedure because Dana Farber does not have an operating room. I was wheeled through corridors, down ramps, up elevators, down elevators, and through passageways until we came to the operating room in Brigham and Women’s hospital. It was a long wait, sitting there on the stretcher with a mask over my mouth, but they finally got to it at about 7 p.m.

CHEMOTHERAPY AT DANA FARBER

The chemotherapy began the next day, January 30. It was two drugs administered intravenously. At that point I could get up and sit in a chair for part of the day. I listened to music tapes, did a little reading, talked to the nurses, etc. Soon the drug began to take its toll. A blood vessel burst behind my eye, turning the white of that eye red. It looked bad, but didn’t hurt. and I didn’t loose my sight. At no time during the ordeal did I loose my sight.

Many cards and letters arrived daily. I could see my prayer net expanding wider and wider. I felt this net was keeping me from falling completely. I received a few phone calls from far away friends, and my brothers and sisters. It was refreshing to hear from everyone and a tangible assurance that I was in everyone’s prayers. My pastor, Dana Miller visited me. I told him to find someone to replace me at the church office. He said “You’re not going to get out of it that easy! That job will be waiting there when you get back. Peggy is filling in for now.”

Peggy J., in fact, did a wonderful job, and was later hired as the secretary’s assistant.

SIDE EFFECTS

My hands and feet began to turn red and feel stiff. My breathing began to get shallow. They sent me to X-ray nearly every day. There were at least five doctors who came to see the patients every day. Some of their questions seemed ridiculous, but not to them, of course. When I began to have trouble, a specialist was called in to examine me. My mouth developed sores, so a dentist came in. Eventually, I had to remove my dentures. I lost my appetite. (Couldn’t eat without teeth anyway.) At this point I began to have troubles upon troubles. I was also moved to a different room. Phone numbers got mixed up. I couldn’t reach the phone. All my numerous cards, flowers and belongings were moved with me. I began to develop a lung infection and was rushed to Brigham and Women’s hospital on February 26 – this time to their Intensive Care Unit (ICU). That’s when they did a lung biopsy. My body responded to prayer and treatment and I was returned to Dana Farber. The chemotherapy stopped after ten days. They were treating side effects. Chemotherapy began again a week later. I was now getting liquid food. I was trying to take my pills, but I couldn’t swallow them too easily because of the mouth sores. I couldn’t breath well, but I had no great pain. I asked God for grace and patience and to please help me get through the daily routines.

Bob came to see me every other day, missing only when a snow storm stopped him. The children came in when they could. How I treasured those visits. I was really not up to seeing much company. Two or three of my friends came in too. Once or twice I was out for treatment and didn’t get to see them. It had gotten to the place where they didn’t recognize me anymore. Bob would open and read my mail to me, and tell me news of home and work and the children.

I was going downhill fast. I had lost most of my hair by then. I couldn’t see myself in a mirror because I was in bed all the time. The nurses cared for me. At one point I was asked if I minded having a few students come in to look at my skin’s reaction to the drugs. I agreed and a few came in my room at a time. There was a total of 15 prospective dermatologists checking out the color of my hands and feet. (My hands were deep red and the bottoms of my feet were black.)

BRIGHAM AND WOMEN’S HOSPITAL – ICU

I had come back to Dana Farber March 2, and a week later I was rushed by ambulance to ICU again. Ambulance was quicker than all those corridors, elevators and passageways. When I was admitted in January, my husband had requested life support systems if needed.

I woke up in ICU, looked around and I knew where I was – I remembered the design on the drapes. The nurse asked if I knew where I was. I shook my head yes, because I couldn’t talk. I was hooked up to a respirator to breathe for me. There were tubes coming out of my nose and mouth. The nurse said I had pulled them out and they had to be re-inserted. I was being fed some things through the tube in my nose. My stomach accepted it, so I didn’t throw up. The tube in my mouth helped them collect phlegm when I coughed. The nurse would pour water down the tube and I would go into a fit. The nurse said I was coughing. They were treating pneumonia. My skin was yellow because my liver stopped working. I lost my hearing because of some other drug. When the doctors talked to me, I couldn’t hear them and that dear nurse got close to my ear and told me what they were saying. I couldn’t hear my husband speak. We tried to write notes. He would write something and I would try to write a question, or answer, but my hands did not cooperate. I was frustrated. I remember writing, “What’s going to happen to me?” Bob’s answer was, “The doctors are optimistic.”

HOPE – BUT READY TO DIE

“The doctors are optimistic.” That statement gave me another glimmer of hope. But I was tired. I took great strength from just looking at my husband and my children. I couldn’t talk, but I could feast my eyes. The prayer circles were pulsating with prayers for my return to health. My pastor was faithful in visiting and brought friends with him, which was encouraging, but now I was ready to die. I made my peace with God many years ago, and we both knew I would leave this world and go to the place He had prepared for me whenever He called. I told God I was ready to come to Him, and would he please watch over my husband and children. I went to sleep.

I woke up to more water, coughing, intravenous contraptions, doctors, etc. God answered all those prayers. He said “Yes” to the prayers for healing, and “Not now” to my leaving this world. My body began to repair itself through God’s healing touches. The bad cancer cells were dead and gone. The good healthy cells were multiplying. One day the nurse said my breathing was doing much better and they were going to take the respirator away. Fine, I was glad of it – water would back up in the tube and cause a “glub glub” noise. A day or so later, the doctors said the tube down my throat could come out. Fine, no more water and coughing, but when the tube was removed, I discovered I couldn’t talk! My voice did not come back. The Lord told me to be patient – one thing at a time. My hearing improved when they stopped the medicine that caused the deafness.

I improved enough to leave ICU. There was no bed ready at Dana Farber, so I spent a night upstairs in Brigham and Women’s hospital – THEN went by ambulance back to Dana Farber. I was treated to a few minutes outside going from the building to the ambulance. I breathed DEEPLY of the fresh air. It was March 17. I could breath deeply again, and oh, how I praised our God.

REJOICING AT DANA FARBER

You can be sure there was much rejoicing about my return to Dana Farber after a second time in ICU. The nurses came to see me with tears of joy. They hugged me and said that only God could have brought me back from what is often certain death to other patients. One of the male aides rejoiced with me, hugged me and gave God credit for my recovery.

So! I was back! All my belongings caught up to me. Nothing was lost or stolen. They even kept my cards, which by now filled two big brown grocery bags. Still the cards and greetings, good wishes and prayers kept coming. My, how that bolstered my spirits and kept my heart praising God. I had a peace that passes all understanding. Again, I asked, “Why me, God?” Again, the answer, “Why not you?” I then agreed with God to write, sing, or tell anyone who will listen, how He spared my life.

No more chemotherapy! Recuperation began. Just get better now please, everyone was saying. Well, I still couldn’t eat – no teeth. No appetite. No hair. No voice. Could only whisper. My hands and feet were in bad shape. The skin was supposed to peel off when new skin formed. One morning I woke up and my hands looked like I had white rubber gloves on. New skin replaced that old stuff which, in time, peeled off. I couldn’t open my cards, but a dear friend from my church addressed 100 (!) post cards, took them to church and asked people to just write an encouraging message on a card. She paid the postage and mailed them – all at once! I received 50 one day, and 50 the next! Well, these I could flip through and read easily and I did many times. Everyone was amazed at my volume of mail.

I was still receiving blood transfusions, platelets, liquid food, etc. intravenously. My body was being rejuvenated. The old bad cells were gone and the new cells were multiplying and I was getting better! Of course all my hair fell out. I began to wear a turban. When I felt much better, I called for a lady to bring some wigs for me to try on. I bought one and started to wear it. Of course I looked much better already. My voice came back a wee bit more.

I couldn’t walk either. I had to learn to walk all over again. A little at a time. Many people came in giving me therapy. After a thousand mouth rinses, my mouth was finally ready to receive the teeth again. I prayed they would fit okay because I had lost 30 pounds. The teeth gagged me when I first tried them. But I was determined, and finally was able to keep them in. NOW, maybe I could eat better. I tried different foods and my stomach accepted some and refused others. How I enjoyed that first drink of orange juice, that first hot dog, that first salad.

HOME AGAIN, AND LIFE AFTER CANCER

I was released from Dana Farber on April 8 and came home. I had to climb 13 steps to get into my house. There was a railing and I made it on my own. It was not easy, and I was exhausted, but elated too. My dear daughter, Sylvia, and her friend had moved all my belongings to the downstairs bedroom. There were flowers, signs, and stuffed animals to welcome me home. It was easy to settle in. Some ladies from my church came to be with me for about three days.

The local visiting nurses association sent people to see me, and help with exercise therapy. I was still using a walker to get around. It was difficult to lift myself out of a chair. I had to use high, sturdy chairs – no soft couches yet. A lady came in to help me take a shower. I still had the Hickman line which had to be kept dry. It became a real trick to do that, and we used all kinds of ways, some worked and some didn’t. The Hickman line dressing had to be changed every other day, so if it got wet, I simply changed it. The line also had to be flushed with saline solution every day. I learned how to do these things while still in Dana Farber.

We celebrated my daughter’s 17th birthday, April 13, with a lovely chocolate cake made by some friends. It was a wonderful celebration, one we had hoped and prayed that I would be home for. Both our children had remained in their respective classes during my ten week hospital stay. They maintained their grades, but it was a bit difficult at times.

The Lord hastened my returning strength. My speaking voice was doing much better, but I was not able to sing, which frustrated me. I prayed that my singing voice would also return.

At the end of April, I decided it was time for me to try to return to work at the church office. I scheduled my dressings, exercise therapy, and baths at times when I could be home. I had pain in my shoulders making it difficult to raise my arms over my head, but I did it anyway. It was slow going up stairs, but I did that too. Peggy J., the sweet angel who took over the office work all those ten weeks, welcomed me back with open arms, plus decorations all over the office. Pastor Miller welcomed me back also, and we just praised the Lord for His goodness.

About a month later, I dismissed the nurses. I was well able to care for myself. It took time, but I was pleased that I could return to work at the church office.

I thank God for a beautiful day – every day. It is great to be alive, breathe deeply of fresh air, and eat regular food again. What a lot I have to be thankful for! The work at the church office came back to me easily. Peggy had kept up with every thing, and she eased me back into my job, which must have been difficult for her. I have been working every day from that day forward. I work at the office about 20 hours a week, utilize volunteers, and have a paid assistant (Peggy) whenever I need one. The church paid me all the time I was out sick. I used the money to buy a new electronic typewriter for my use at home. What a blessing it is to use it! Thanks to God again for His love and for His people who share that love.

SUMMER

In June, my husband and I were very happy to attend our daughter’s piano recital. We also enjoyed the excitement of seeing our daughter dressed up for her school’s junior banquet. It was also great to participate in church activities again. My husband, Bob, and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary on June 16, 1986, and in July, we spent a few days at Monadnock Bible Conference in Jaffrey. My tooth was finally capped on July 14.

FAMILY REUNION

My husband wanted me to go to the Hetrick family reunion in August. While I was still recuperating I did not want to go, but by the time August arrived, I felt fine and was able to go. The reunion was for my side of the family and it was held in Pennsylvania. My parents had six children (three boys and three girls). My oldest sister, Frances became ill a week before the reunion. When we went to Pennsylvania, we visited her in the hospital. She was there because she had had a stroke. She was on the same life support systems I had been on a few short months before. It was hard for me to see her that way. She could not talk or respond well, but all her brothers and sisters were able to get in to see her. She died a week later. We were still in the area and stayed for the funeral.

We were all stunned by my sister’s death. She had been taking her high blood pressure pills only when she felt like it. We felt her death could have been avoided by proper use of the medicine. She was 62 years old. She knew the Lord and we will once again see her when we are all in the presence of God. The question had to surface – “Why did God return life to me and allow my sister to leave this life?” This question cannot be answered here. But I know this – that God wants me to tell others of His faithful presence through tribulation, disease, happiness, and good times.

SEPTEMBER 1986

September is a month of beginnings. Sylvia began her senior year in high school. Byron began work on his masters thesis in nuclear engineering at the University of Lowell (Massachusetts). I set goals for myself – daily and weekly. During this month, I was a speaker at an all day meeting of church secretaries for my church's statewide denominational organization. The subject was newsletters and a good deal of preparation was necessary, and I enjoyed every minute of it. The day went very well. It was pleasant meeting secretaries from all over the state. We had a great time exchanging news, views, ideas, information, and methods.

OCTOBER 1986

For my birthday on October 16 we planned for the family to go out and celebrate at Howard Johnson’s in Nashua. It was planned for the 15th. The day arrived and we all got dressed up. The four of us drove to Howard Johnson’s in my son’s car. Upon arrival, we were told we would have a ten minute wait. Finally, the hostess ushered us toward a banquet room. When she opened the door, I saw some friends seated at a table. I was pleased to see them, then I heard “happy birthday” said by everyone in the room. I sure was surprised! There were about 80 people seated at tables to celebrate my 56th birthday. Well, I couldn’t sit still at the head table, so I walked around to greet each and every one that came. What a grand time we had. Good food, and some entertainment cooked up by my husband and our children. My son, Byron, played “Happy Birthday” on the piano in about eight different variations, and he also did a monologue about my life, punctuated by a few home movies. I was moved to tears more than once. My dear husband worked hard for weeks putting everything together. His efforts were well rewarded by such a wonderful turnout.

I was overwhelmed at everyone’s good wishes, gifts and cards. It indeed was a memorable night! We were celebrating my birthday, but beyond that, we were celebrating God’s goodness, healing, and faithfulness to His children.

The day after the party, my actual birthday, my husband was laid off work. He found a couple short term jobs, but nothing on a permanent basis right away. Since we had made plans to return to my alma mater for homecoming weekend the day after my birthday, we went ahead with those plans. Bob and I had a wonderful time at Nyack College that weekend. Graduates from the decade of the fifties were honored at each function. We met quite a few of my former classmates. I was particularly happy to see my former voice teacher, who is still teaching. She was a great encouragement to me by giving me a few exercises I could do to help my voice return. A student complimented me on my voice after a musical concert we attended. I thanked her and was happy to tell her that right there was my voice teacher. The student was bit taken aback, and I just felt great thanks for the Lord’s healing ways.

The weekend after our trip to Nyack, we took Sylvia and her friend, Kerry, to Pennsylvania to visit a couple college campuses. On the same trip, Bob took an interview with an engineering firm whose president is a long time friend of ours. As a result of the trip, Sylvia chose Messiah College, applied and was accepted, and Bob got a short term consulting job.

I could see how God was putting goals before me to look forward to and to prepare for. My health was fine. Each month my checkup at Dana Farber was fine in all respects. A stubborn infection in the left lung finally cleared up and no more X-rays were necessary. The Hickman line was removed on October 21, 1986. Life was much simpler without that! I didn’t miss it at all.

NOVEMBER 1986

By this time I had been signing for the deaf at church on an occasional basis. Lunch with friends, secretaries’ meetings, church activities – all these were my goals. I started getting pain in my right side. It wouldn’t quit. It became necessary for me to go to our family physician. He ordered an ultrasound to be done. He also gave me a sulfa drug to clear up a “slight” infection in the urinary tract. The result of the ultrasound was that they could find nothing wrong. I had put my problems in the form of a prayer request on the prayer chains at church. One week after I started taking the sulfa drug, I woke up on a Saturday morning with an itchy rash over most of my body. At the hospital, the doctor explained that it was a reaction from the sulfa drug, and he gave me a shot. The next day I was worse. I itched and was redder than ever. I called Dana Farber and talked to one of their doctors. He assured me that it had nothing to do with a cancer problem and was in all probability a reaction to the sulfa drug.

The next day, Monday, I went to see the doctor again and received another shot, and was much better on Tuesday – even returned to work. I could function again and was very happy to do so. My fears of a cancer related problem were alleviated.

Thanksgiving day was very pleasant with all of us here – even Bob’s mother.

DECEMBER 1986

Another busy month. I was invited to join the choir of nearby Faith Baptist Church for their Christmas music. My voice needed to be used and this opportunity helped it along tremendously. I was asked to sing a short duet and did so. At my own church, I sang with the ladies' trio on Christmas Eve. How grateful I am for these opportunities, and for all the activities of the month.

At the December checkup at Dana Farber, I was fine and they started allowing me two months between visits. Each day, I could see how God loved me through the acts of friends and family. I felt that God used me to help bring joy and cheer and love to others. We must learn from yesterday, plan for tomorrow, but we only have today.

Along about this time, my church bought a computer for the office, and I started to learn the basics. One must be patient when learning and not try to go too fast. It helps if you have a photographic memory, which I do not. Practice is the key.

JANUARY 1987

A new year. One I thought I would never see! Peggy and I launched into putting the annual reports of the church committees on the computer, and we really had plenty of practice on that. My former college roommate called at the end of the month, and we made plans for her to come stay with us for a week in March.

FEBRUARY 1987

February had its share of lunches with the ladies, signing, evenings out, etc. Previously, I had been wearing a gray wig, but my hair was growing back in on the dark brown and gray side, much darker than the wig. But I could see that it was soon time to get my hair done. Finally, on the 21st of the month, I went to the beauty parlor and got a curly permanent. It turned out pretty good. I haven’t worn a wig since, but I’m not throwing it out!

MARCH 1987

What a wonderful time my former roommate, Faith, and I had together!. Her husband, Paul, was attending seminars in Boston and came back every evening. Talk, shop, cook, eat – we did it all. The week was over all too soon, but I thank God for another goal realized.

I joined the Milford Methodist church choir to sing Bill Gaither’s "Alleluia" on Palm Sunday. At my church, I sang in the choir for the JESUS IS LORD cantata by John Innes – for the morning of Palm Sunday.

Goals continued to be set before me and I thanked God for this, and the health, energy, and ability to meet them.

APRIL 1987

On Palm Sunday, April 12, 1987, I sang in two cantatas. One in my church in the morning, called “Jesus Is Lord.” I sang the first soprano part. It was great to get back into practicing with the choir on a regular basis. In the evening I sang with the Milford Methodist church choir when we sang Gaither’s “Alleluia.” I was asked to give a testimony and then sing the first verse of “Because He Lives.” It was difficult for me to relive the past trials, but God gave strength, people prayed for me, and I did okay. Actually, it was a great victory for me! It was an unsurpassed day in singing praises to my Lord.


It has been almost 20 years since this time of disease and healing, and Mom's voice sounds as good as ever.

Last Updated on 3/14/2005