Error at the hospital

March 1, 2019 -- Living City

Error at the hospital
A young mom diagnosed with cancer deals with news of a mistake made during her surgery

It was in May of 2017, in the middle of purchasing our new home, that I was given the news that I had Stage 1 Cancer. Strangely enough, my mom had cancer at the same age I was, and so did my sister.

“No, it can’t be. It’s not the right moment. I’m still young.” That was my first reaction. Then I began to ask myself: “Why me, why now when my kids are still young, 9 and 11 years old? What about my husband, and my work?” This “cancer” thing is going to be a big obstacle, an inconvenience in my planned-out life.

Yet a phrase resounded in my soul. Could all this be part of God’s plan? Is God asking me to slow down, not to get too attached to anything, including my health?

With the support of my family and friends, I decided to take a step and say my “Yes” to whatever was the will of God for me. I followed the advice of others to not get too tired and rest well before the surgery in July. As I was going to the operating room, I was at peace and felt the love and prayers of everyone. Everything seemed to go well after the surgery, too.

Unfortunately, when the surgeon came to talk to me and my husband in the recovery room, he told us that the pathology reports showed that the cancer wasn’t taken out, only the benign cysts. The hospital had made a serious error.

This was such upsetting news I literally felt sick to my stomach. It was especially hard to tell this news to the children. I was to go through the same surgery again a month later to remove the cancer and postpone my vacation plans.

In this mistake, after the initial shock died down, I felt that it was all part of God’s plan somehow. With my husband we decided that rather than getting mad and suing the hospital, I should forgive them and help them improve their system. I met with the head doctor and head of the department to explain my disappointment. They then decided to change their way of diagnosing where the tumors are located, being more precise in their paperwork so that the same mistake never happens again.

I tried to lessen all the negativity that was happening and keeping a more positive approach, which is an important part of healing. In this way, I tried to imitate Mary in her virtue of patience and fortitude.

 For my second surgery in August, everything went well and the cancerous part was taken out. I was on my way to recovery. Being able to spend precious time with my family was the added bonus.

However, I still had to go through radiation for 5 1/2 weeks just to make sure all the cells were destroyed. I tried working but I soon had to take a leave of absence.

The one thing that I hate doing is being in the hospital because I feel for all the sick people. But I knew that regardless of the place I’m in, there’s always an opportunity to love. I started greeting the receptionist with a smile. I joked around with the technicians and they in turn made the whole process more comfortable.

One time in the waiting room, an elderly lady began talking to me. She started complaining about her husband criticizing her driving and being so cranky. I listened to her patiently. Then she told me that her husband had stage 4 cancer and was finishing his chemotherapy, then possibly radiation after.

Her face suddenly got sad and there was a bit of silence. Then I tried telling her that I hope and pray that everything works out for her husband. She looked up and we continued our conversation, as I tried my best to cheer her up. Before I left the waiting room, she said how nice it was to talk to me and also wished the best for me. This experience helped me realize how hard it must be also for other people who have a bigger load to carry.

I realized that God truly gives us the grace to love and embrace the suffering in each moment. There are still many other challenges ahead. But I try to stay rooted in the present.

N.A., California

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