In the last few days that we were packing up our home in Phoenix we lived in a hotel. One night I was out rather late taking the dogs for their last evening constitutional before bed. I spied an extremely thin man sitting on the curb by the back door we were nearing. Rudi the dachshund seems to have the uncanny ability to sense when someone needs a dog. Time and again Eric and I have remarked that he would have made an excellent hospital aide dog. At our approach the man’s face lit up. (Wiener dogs tend to have that effect on people. They are joyous conversation starters.) He said “Best dogs in the world aren’t they?” By now Rudi was at his feet begging for a scratch. I try to respect that not everyone is as affectionate to dogs as Rudi is to humans so I admonished him to “Get down, not everyone wants a small dog in their lap.” The man laughed and said “Actually I would love that.” He began petting Rudi in earnest while Franz made the slow, wary approach he is famous for, soon joining in on the love fest.
It was clear to see that this man needed a dog or two.
I remarked that it was a nice evening for Phoenix. He replied that he lived in Oregon and missed the coolness but needed to be here for cancer treatments.
So there it was.
He could have just replied that it was a nice night and we may have quickly gone on our separate ways.
But he let a big elephant out into that parking lot. Some people might have become immediately uncomfortable and perhaps mumble “Oh I am so sorry to hear that” and walked away. To tell you the truth a small part of me felt that way too, but a larger part of me sensed a bigger picture.
So I remained and asked “Are you here alone while getting treatment?” somehow already knowing the answer.
“Yes, he replied. At the Cancer Treatment Center.”
“Oh, yes, I know it. (and wanting to give hope…) it is supposed to be one of the best facilities in the nation.”
Then he said, “They really are great. They arrange all my travel, all of the different doctors come to me instead of me going a million places…..I really have already been given more time than most people do when they receive a Stage 4 pancreatic cancer diagnosis.”
My heart dropped. I knew this diagnosis. I knew that the average life span of this diagnosis was 6 months. A large lump formed in my throat. I tried in vain to swallow it away. I wanted to give him…..more….encouragement….a focus. So I said “You look like you are fairly young with the strength to beat it.”
“I am 50” he said.
“My husband is 50. So to me that is young. Do you have kids?” I questioned.
“Yes, three he sighed. The youngest is just 10.”
He then went on to say that his two older kids were young adults and that they were helping to take care of him.
I replied, “Well that right there tells me that you are an amazing father.” He said, “Yeah, they’re the best kids in the world. I’ve already made it a year and a half just for them.”
I said, “An incentive to fight the good fight is so important in winning the war against cancer.” At that point I stuck out my hand and said “I am Laura.”
He shook my hand and said “Nice to meet you. I am Kurt.”
Then came the moment that is never easy for me. I said, “Kurt, I am a praying woman. I have faith and I believe in miracles.”
Kurt said, “Yeah, I am told often enough that I am walking miracle. I’m having more chemo again tomorrow.”
At that a member of my family poked their head out of the door, no doubt concerned as to why I had been gone so long.
I told Kurt that I would be praying for him tomorrow for his procedure to go well and that I would continue to pray for him.”
He thanked me and with that I walked back inside and tears started streaming down my face. This man desperately needed a friend and I was soon leaving.
The next night I was loading the car to prepare for our long journey to Texas which would begin early the next morning. I once again spied Kurt, waved and walked over. “How did it go today?” I asked.
“It was a good session. He replied. I feel better than I have in previous sessions. I also had a great conversation with another man there receiving treatment. It was such a gift. It was almost as if I could feel your prayers.”
“Good, I smiled. Because I was saying them and I won’t stop.”
“So, you’re leaving tomorrow?” he asked.
“Yes, I said, my family is moving to Texas. My husband got a job there.”
“Well best of luck to you” he said.
“Thank you. I replied. Remember, I believe in miracles and will be praying for you.”
So, I have been in Fort Worth for two weeks now. I had left Phoenix with a summer cold. It didn’t seem to be getting any better and this last week I walked around, feeling feverish and as if a 1000 daggers were in my throat. I wanted to just crawl into bed. But bed was not an option. I needed to find and set up a home, enroll Sweet Guy in school as well as a million other major moving tasks.
Finally on Tuesday I was so weary and wondering just where I was going to find the strength to rip out floors, tear down wallpaper, patch holes, complete miles of painting and make a home for my family. In desperation I called our insurance and begged for a new primary care doctor. By some miracle my new doctor had an appointment open for the following day.
The results came swiftly back. I had one of the worst cases of strep throat she had ever seen.
Relief washed over me. I knew that with a few days of antibiotics I would be back to my go getter self.
Like so many others I often take my good health for granted
At that moment I said another prayer for Kurt.
Let me know if I can pray for you.
“Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.” ~ 3 John 1:2