I hung the phone up and stood there, unable to breathe, and then, collapsing on my bed, I wept. Terrifying thoughts were racing through my mind as I found myself reaching for grace through prayer.
Pulling out my datebook, I saw the visit where just fourteen days ago I had scheduled a mammogram and other routine checkups. I am diligent and proactive about my health, but at my age, I knew I fell into the high risk category for breast cancer…
Cancer was a dreaded disease which had taken the lives of many of my friends, so I knew just how merciless it could be. But I had tried not to dwell on the negative and go on about my life as usual. That was until just yesterday when I received that terrifying call from my doctor. She said she needed to see me, stressing it was urgent and to please make an appointment as soon as possible. The test revealed something that concerned her.
It just so happened that my husband was on a six week overseas mission trip with some other men from the church we attend. It would have been great to have him by my side for this visit, but I knew I had his love, prayers and support. I remember thinking, “Just you and me, God,” as I made my way nervously to the office that morning.
My heart grew heavy, reminiscent of the time I received a similar call about my father, who later died of this terrible disease. I was trying not to worry, but the burden grew heavier and that old smothering feeling was creeping around me. As I drove, hardly noticing anything along the way, I shook my head and again found myself thinking, “The one thing I have always feared most may have found its way into my body.” All I knew to do was pray. So, I prayed and wept all the way to her office.
I was taken to an examination room and the doctor came in immediately with the mammograms in her hand. She greeted me in much the typical way of doctors, with the exception of the look of concern in her eyes.
I swallowed hard and deep in my innermost being I whispered, “Oh God, help me.”
Then my eyes became fixed on the x-rays. There was no mistaking the image in my left breast; it jumped out at me like a hideous monster snatching at me from some darkened shadow. My eyes filled with tears again as my heart sank a little more. The dark area was the size of a small child's balled up fist. As if drawn by an unseen magnet, I raised my hand, placing it on my chest in the vicinity of the mass.
The doctor interrupted my despair when she gently placed her hand on my shoulder. She informed me that she was very concerned, but wanted a second look before determining any course of action.
I nodded in agreement as I was sent to take another mammogram that was more in depth. After the procedure I was asked to sit in the waiting room until the results could be examined.
The burden I had felt now seemed so much heavier, as if I was lugging a huge slab of marble on my shoulders. It was a struggle just to make my feet move as I found a quiet, desolate corner where I sat down. I knew my doctor would suggest a biopsy after the x-rays. Once again I could feel the fear crawling on my skin as I dreaded what might be the possible outcome.
It was then that the comforting words of a Bible passage came to my mind: “Be not afraid, only believe…” I closed my eyes tightly, took a deep breath and prayed once again.
"Excuse me, Miss," a man's gentle voice said. My prayerful concentration was broken as I glanced up nervously... Standing over me was a rather distinguished looking gray-haired man. Noticing his uniform, I assumed he was a volunteer, so I relaxed.
Smiling, he said, "Ma'am, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to startle you. I know I'm a stranger and wish not to intrude, but I couldn't help noticing that you seem rather upset.”
His face seemed to glow with certain warmth and the kindness in his eyes brought a sense of peace to me.
I hesitated before saying anything… then in a voice just above a whisper I said, “I’m waiting for my doctor to review some x-rays, and I am worried.”
He said, “I have found that in times of trouble and when doubt is flooding our souls, seeking help from the heavenly Father can help.”
I answered honestly, "My faith is so weak right now and I am somewhat concerned."
He replied, "You know the Good Book tells us that if we have faith the size of a mustard seed, then it can move mountains!"
I had heard about "mustard seed faith," yet somehow I didn't feel too hopeful about my mountain being removed this morning. Still, I smiled and agreed.
He then asked, “If it's all right with you, I was wondering if I could pray for you?"
I remember being a little surprised by his offer, but at the same time, I also felt pleasantly relieved. How could he have known that prayer was just what I needed? I smiled as I hesitantly answered, “Please do. I think I would like that very much."
He sat down beside me and as we bowed our heads to pray, he gently took my hand.
Although I have heard many prayers and witnessed many spiritual accolades, there was something uniquely different about this old gentleman's prayer. As he interceded for me, I felt such peace sweep over my soul. Warm tears of relief began rolling down my cheeks, dropping onto our hands. I could sense the presence of God, and I didn’t want him to stop.
I felt a bit disappointed as he softly said, “Amen”.
I mumbled a grateful, “Thank you,” and through tear-filled eyes I read the name “D'Angelo” on his name tag, which was pinned next to a little smiley face that read, “Smile, God loves you!”
Amazingly, that simple little slogan, “Smile, God loves you”, seemed to be a message just for me.
I turned and reached for my purse, fumbling around until I finally found a tissue. By that time, my face was wet with tears and my mascara had to be a mess. But, it didn’t seem to matter to me how I looked outwardly, for inside I felt a calming peace for the first time that day. Quickly I dried my eyes and patted my face a little. Then, when I turned back around, the kind old man was gone. I looked around the waiting room and out in the hall, but it was as though he had just disappeared.
I was still pondering this strange event when a nurse suddenly spoke, jarring me out of my state of awe.
“The Doctor will see you now,” she said.
I grabbed my papers and purse. Anxiously I followed her down the hall, my feet feeling like lead. This time, instead of an examination room, I was led to my doctor’s office. I entered and sat down as the nurse closed the door. Sitting there alone, I closed my eyes to again pray. But this time my prayer was different. I felt more prepared to receive the news I just knew I would hear. So, I asked God for the grace and guidance I would need to tell my husband and kids.
My prayer was interrupted by a light knock and my doctor’s gentle voice, “Hi again.” She came in, closing the door behind her and quietly sat down. I identified an unmistakable expression of concern on her face, which again caused me to tremble.
She looked directly into my eyes as she said, "I am a little puzzled. When studying this second mammogram, I was shocked that we could not find any spots at all. I could have sworn that we were looking at a large mass on your left breast, but the test has revealed nothing at all!"
I was stunned by what she was telling me.
She continued, "Even though I am perplexed, for your sake, I am very pleased with this report. My colleagues and I have checked it thoroughly and believe our analysis to be accurate. I am happy to inform you that your x-rays are as clear as any I have seen! So thank God, now you and your family can relax."
"Are you absolutely sure?" I questioned in total disbelief.
Looking over the spectacles perched on the end of her nose, she replied, "As certain as we can be. It sure looks like someone up there is looking out for you. We are going to keep an eye on things, but I would suggest that you put this behind you and enjoy your new lease on life.”
Befuddled, as I left her office I thought, "Thank you, God. I will not take my life for granted anymore.”
Suddenly, I remembered the old gentleman who prayed with me. It was imperative that I find him to share this wonderful news and thank him once more.
I walked up to the nurses’ station and asked, "Please, could you tell me how to find one of your volunteers? His name is D'Angelo."
"Who?" the puzzled nurse asked.
"I think his name is D'Angelo," I said. "He had on a blue uniform and had a little yellow smiley face pinned next to his name. He had to have been in his late sixties."
She said, "Ma'am, I am very familiar with all of our staff and volunteers and we have no one by that name. I have been here all morning and have not seen anyone fitting that description. Besides, because of the personal nature of the problems we handle in this section, the only men allowed back here are the doctors and their staff.”
Driving home, all I could do was thank God. I thanked Him for the results of the test and for the wonderful medical care that had been given me. But most of all I thanked Him for the good news on my condition and for that kind old gentleman who had appeared in my time of despair.
I have never really believed too much in miracles. That is, until that day when a total stranger prayed for me.
Since then, I've had many opportunities to share my story and I know people may listen in disbelief, but it's hard to dispute what happened to me that day. I have kept copies of both x-rays for proof to others and as a reminder to me of the power of prayer.
I would encourage anyone who is going through a difficult situation in their life to pray and trust the heavenly Father, know that He loves you and will be there for you. He may not deliver you of the problem, but He will be with you in it. You may not have a miraculous story to tell, such as mine, but He will get you through.
I’ve heard it said so many times throughout my life, “God works in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform…” and I must say that looking back on these events and my special experience, my life has changed so much. I appreciate life so much more. Living has taken on a whole new meaning since that day a kindly old gentleman, D’Angelo, took my hand and sweetly prayed.