Just before another biopsy in 2006 which would determine if suspicious areas doctors had been monitoring were cancerous, I had to deal with several transitions. My insurance carrier changed and with it the preferred hospital. No longer would I be able to go to the facility where I’d given birth to my children, but would have to move across town to another medical center.
When I was diagnosed with cancer, it had been a comfort to me during hospital stays that on another floor just a few years earlier, I’d had my babies. Somehow, mentally, it helped balance the pain.
In addition, the nurse who’d been with me through four previous surgeries had moved to Florida. Her face had always been the last one I’d seen before anesthesia took over. I felt a little lost facing what could once more be a difficult diagnosis in a strange place with people I didn’t know.
Just a couple of weeks before my scheduled surgery, a new couple visited our church. I learned this couple, Dr. Joel Cook, and his wife Cheryl moved here because he was to be the new director of the breast health center where my surgery was scheduled--an amazing development. It turned out he would be on duty the morning of my operation, and I thanked God I would get to see his friendly face before surgery.
When I arrived that day, another dear friend was already there praying. After a reassuring visit with her, I was taken back to pre-op. The nurse said, “Dr. Cook will be in to see you in a moment. He has something for you.”
When he walked in, he held a bundle of pink and green calico fabric in his arms.
“My wife made this for you,” he said.
I took the quilt and spread it in my lap, and immediately felt wrapped in love. I couldn’t believe this gift. I knew Cheryl had only known about my surgery for days, so she’d had to work on this for many hours in a short time to get it done. She hardly knew me, and yet she’d made this extravagant gift of time, talent, and love.
Throughout the hours and days ahead other visitors, nurses and doctors added their names to the quilt. When I left the hospital, the love and prayers expressed through that quilt carried me through several difficult days of waiting for pathology results. It turned out three local pathologists could not agree about the status of the cells that had been removed. Once more, just as six years earlier when I was diagnosed with cancer, the tissues had to be sent to one of the leading experts in the world. This meant even more waiting.
At last, the results came back, and the expert’s report expressed a definitive benign diagnosis.
Benign is such a wonderful word.
I’ve often thought about the timing of the Cook’s arrival in our town. Dr. Cook’s work here has since saved the lives of an untold number of women. I know the Cooks weren’t sent here especially for me, but at the time, it sure felt that way.
Cheryl’s extravagant gift makes me think of God’s love. “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God? ” I John 3:1 God has never held back his love, even to the point of sacrificing his own son. “For God so loved the world that he gave…” John 3:16
Lying across the sofa in my office today is Cheryl's quilt, a beautiful reminder of how much God loves me and of how he calls me also to love extravagantly.