Monday, March 6, 2017

A Story of Hope


An old photo from Lourdes, France - 1958

OUR LADY OF LOURDES

Mr. Clyde King, the steady sacristan at my parish here in northern California, approached me one day after Mass last year, asking if perhaps I could fill in for him for about ten days.  He might be going out of town, though this was not yet assured . . . . 

He was planning, or rather hoping, to go to Lourdes;  he has been battling melanoma since 2009.  He had had one surgery to remove a tumor from his left temple, and another one in late 2010 to remove three more tumors just beneath his jaw line . . . .  For the moment, all the melanoma had been removed.  Still, he put in an application to join an annual pilgrimage . . . .  

He was put on the waiting list.  He responded with equanimity, saying simply that Mary will decide who ends up going.  Soon afterwards, the radiologist called and somberly informed him that a routine follow up PET scan revealed the presence of yet another and severe (stage 4 melanoma) tumor - this time in his chest, on the right side of his windpipe.  Both surgery and treatment would be required.  

With no knowledge of that dispiriting medical development, the pilgrimage organizers then notified him - approximately a week before the pilgrimage to Lourdes was set to begin - that a space had opened up.

While he was in Lourdes, his doctor - quite concerned about the results of yet another test taken just before he left - contacted his wife in order to set up a new appointment as soon as possible.  He was set to return on a Wednesday.  So without her husband's knowledge, she scheduled an appointment for Thursday.  More tests were taken that day.  The results came back the following Monday - and the doctor was utterly nonplussed to discover that all signs of the melanoma had disappeared.  His regular oncologist would later tell him:  "I don't believe in miracles, but in your case, I may have to rethink that." . . . That was about ten months ago - and every subsequent test has verified his cancer-free status.


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