Wherever I go, I carry a small gray stone. It’s in my purse all day, tucked under my pillow each night. And on it are painted three simple words: Expect a miracle. I did expect one, and against all odds, that’s exactly what I was given.
A year ago, when I first had bloating and pains in my pelvis and lower abdomen, I passed it off as side effects from the estrogen I was taking for menopause. But driving home one day, the pains got so wrenching I nearly crashed my car.
This can’t be normal! I thought in fear. I’m a nurse, so I raced to my medical books as soon a I got home. Almost as if I were directed, I picked one from the shelf and opened straight to the page on ovarian cancer. A chill raced down my spine as I read the symptoms, bloating, pain, frequent urination…I had every one.
“We’ll have to run some tests,” my doctor said after examining me. “But it could be ovarian cancer.” Driving home, I felt so scared I could barely breathe. And when I walked in the door, my husband, Rich, took one look at me, and hugged me close. “We just need to pray,” he told me.
But my test results were terrifying: I had a large tumor, and a blood test that indicated the possible presence of ovarian cancer read 462, normal is 30. I’m going to die! I wept.
That night, I forced myself to stay calm as I told our two teenage daughters that I had cancer. But when I saw the fear in their eyes, my heart nearly broke in two. So I wouldn’t burden them with my fear, I said I had to run to the store and slipped out to my car, tears coursing down my cheeks.
In my mind, I pictured all the faces I loved: Rich, the girls, our five other children through previous marriages, parents, friends…
Oh, God, please don’t take my life, I pleaded. I still have so much to live for.
“Don’t do this alone,” my priest told me when I cried to him. “Let others help you.” And the next day, all those faces I pictured the night before were in my home, surrounding me with their love.
Their love carried me through my surgery to remove the tumor, along with my fallopian tubes and ovaries. But I was far from out of danger. “You still have only a 15 percent chance of making it,” once doctor told me. “Your only hope is chemotherapy.”
Half crazed with fear, I began making frantic bargains: if you heal me, God, I’ll be a better wife, a better mom, a better person. Just give me a second chance.
I had six chemo treatments, one every three weeks. Sometimes I thought I wouldn’t make it through them, they made me so weak and sick. But when I most needed a boost, a friend would show up with dinner or drop by to take the girls out.
Folks even organized fund-raisers to help us pay my medical bills!
Bouyed by so much love, I knew I owed it to others, and to myself, to stay optimistic. So I read books on healing and listened to tapes that helped me visualize getting well. I’m not giving in, I’d think. Rich was my strength whenever I felt afraid, praying with me and holding me. My daughters stayed positive, too. Lindsay, 14, and Sarah, 16, refused to believe I would die. “You’re going to be all right, Mom,” they’d say.
But after my last treatment, I faced a terrifying moment of truth. Doctors were going to take 100 biopsies, one in ever place they feared the cancer might have spread.
“To be honest, we don’t expect to find you’re cancer-free,” they warned. And if the chemo hadn’t destroyed the cancer cells, my chances for survival were slim.
I could feel terror creeping into every fiber of my being. I can’t give up hope now, I thought fiercely. So before leaving for the hospital, I opened the drawer where I kept a good-luck symbol a friend had given me, a small, hand-painted rock.
Expect a miracle, I read, then slipped the stone in my purse. The stone was still in my purse the next day, when I opened my eyes after surgery to find a pretty woman with dark hair and a white dress leaning over my hospital bed.
She must be a nurse, I thought. But she had no pills in her hand, no blood pressure monitor to hook up. Instead, she looked at me kindly and asked, “Are you the one who’s looking for a miracle?”
Confused, I stammered, “Yes.” But how did she know? I wondered. Then, before the question left my lips, she’d vanished.
The next morning, the woman in white was beside me once again. In her hand was a plaque that read: Miracles Happen Every Day. “Is this what you’re looking for?” she asked gently.
Tears sprang to my eyes, but before I could say a word, once again she was gone. As I gazed at the plaque she’d given me, I felt a funny tingly sensation throughout my body…
“Dawn,” Rich said as I groggily opened my eyes, “the results of the biopsies are in. They were negative, each and every one!” I’ll never know whether the woman was a nurse, or an angel but it doesn’t matter. She came to let me know that hopes are never foolish, prayers never wasted.
Today I’m 49 and cancer-free. And each time I hug my daughters, share a quiet moment with Rich or just watch autumn leaves scuttle across the sidewalk, I remember again that every new day is a blessing, a new chance to expect a miracle.
By: Dawn Stobbe
Access Road: A dream come true
It was a dream come true to the residents of Brgy. Anopog to see the 400 meters concrete access road inaugurated.
“Dako kaayo among kalipay nga nahuman gyud ang karsada diri, kay sa una lisod gyud kaming mga ginikanan mag baba sad mi, ilabi na mga kinder pa, dili makasugakod og labang sa lapukon ug guba ngadalan (We are happy that this concrete road is finished. Before it was so difficult for parents to bring their children to school because they would have to carry the children especially those in kindergarten,” shared Cirila Benigay a resident of Barangay Anopog and a Pantawid beneficiary.
The town of Pinamungajan is one of the several towns affected by Typhoon Auring that hit the country on January 8, 2017. The town of Pinamungajan was severely flooded and its barangay roads were destroyed including barangay Anopog, where access road to school was destroyed and buried in knee-deep mud and flood waters.
“This concrete road makes a difference in the life of 680 students in our school. It brings positive effect on them. They are now motivated to attend classes despite heavy downpour because they no longer wade on muddy road. I am hopeful that there would be an increase on attendance rate of students especially the 156 Pantawid beneficiaries, which would eventually increase their education compliance rate,” said Mr. Vianney Abellanosa, school principal.
He said that since the road is now elevated and concreted, the parents and the 25 teaching staff of the school are already assured of the safety of the students.
Meanwhile, Abellanosa also expressed with gratitude for this life-changing experience he and his teachers and students have in working with Kalahi-CIDSS.
The students and teachers of Anopog Elementary School helped the community volunteers to gain votes during the Municipal Inter-Barangay Forum (MIBF). They presented photos of teachers and students carefully and patiently walking their way through muddy paths. Their vivid presentation convinced the MIBF participants to vote for them and indeed, Barangay Anopog got the 1st place in the prioritization list.
The completion of the 400-meter access road brings joy and hope not only to the students and teachers but also to the residents living in nearby sitios.
The Php 2.6 million access road has benefited 830 households and made their dream come true.
Always Be Humble and Kind
My twin brother and I were raised by our grandparents. They have taught us so many things about life, but the one thing that has always stuck with me is to always be humble and kind no matter what you do in life. My grandpa always told us no matter where life leads you, always remember your values and where you came from. He was a colonel in the Air Force for 20 years, and then became a lawyer and owned his own law firm for another 20 years. Today, at age 83, he is a cashier at Walmart and you would never know what all he has done because he is that humble. People go to his register to see him because he always puts a smile on their face. He has taught us that it doesn’t matter what you do or have done, it’s about who you are and your character. He really does teach by example.
My Support System
Ever since I was young, my parents and older brother have always cheered me on – whether it was at a dance competition, piano recital, or an academic accomplishment. They were there even when I attempted 1 of 10 sports, only to later realize I just wasn’t that athletic. Point is – they never stopped to tell me I couldn’t do something or to quit. They encouraged me every step of the way, and went the extra mile to be the parent that was the volunteer soccer coach or would rearrange their hectic schedules for my passions and growth.
My family became a main value through these childhood moments, and are also integral to every other value I hold important – whether it’s learning persistence or respect for others. They have instilled in me these values from a young age, and continue to help me abide by them. At every major turning point in my life whether its choosing a college or a full time job, I rely on them for their advice, and consider how to maintain this value while being away. In 5 years, I know family will be of equal importance to me and will always strive to make it known to them that they are my greatest value.
Submitted by Ayeesha
Poem of Peace
Our nation’s innocence is lost,
Stolen by acts of hate.
Helpless people paid the cost,
For them it is too late.
Daughters, sons, husbands, wives,
Sisters, friends and brothers.
All of them have lost their lives,
To senseless acts of others.
New York’s city has been defaced.
Bodies lay in rubble.
They can never be replaced.
But war won’t end our trouble.
Angers only escalate,
As we point out the guilt.
Violence will perpetuate.
While we dig through the silt.
Cries of anger, cries for war,
Echo in the air.
As if our bombs and missiles soar,
It will make it fair.
People claim “eye for an eye”
Our nation wants to fight.
If their innocent people die,
Then will that make US right?
Punishment surely must take place.
These murderers must pay.
But they are groups and not a race.
Keep liberty in mind, each day.
We are people of goodwill,
Of truth and love and light.
Please give thought before you kill,
Take heed before you fight.
We ask, what do we tell our children?
How do we give them ease?
Reactions set examples for them,
Should we not teach them peace?
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