Today was my cancer check-up. I get butterfly’s in my stomach every time I go. I noticed a framed article on the wall. I wanted you to read it too…
Waiting Room Angel
By Christine Baur
Last October I became an angel.
It started in a waiting room at Norwalk Hospital Whittingham Cancer Center where I sat thinking how glad I was to be there for a check-up, not another round of chemotherapy. I had just celebrated turning 35. After my year-long battle with Hodgkin’s disease, it was a big celebration. I smiled thinking of my house filled with people laughing and dancing. For so long it felt like people only came to the house with flowers and meals.
A wave of guilt came over me as I looked across the room at an older man sitting with his wife. A doctor came in and they talked about his new diagnosis: Lymphoma. He was just beginning his battle.
“You’ll be fine,” I said to him. The words came out before I could stop them. “I have the same doctor. Just listen to what he say’s and you’ll do fine.”
He gave me a long look and seemed to be waiting four more. He was scared.
“I was stage four,” I continued, “and now I’m a survivor. You will be, too.”
I left that day feeling like an intruder. How rude to invite myself into someone else’s life. And what if he wasn’t fine? A few weeks later, a letter came in the mail marked: “To my Waiting Room Angel.” I ripped it open and read:
“On Thurs. October 30, you changed my life.” The man in the waiting room was Ken, an 81 year old who had decided, that day to decline treatment for his disease. But, he said, because of our brief conversation, as he later sat on the examining table, he found himself changing his mind.
“The sound of your voice, the words you spoke overwhelmed me. I felt so strange. I shrugged and heard myself say to the doctor, “I’ll do whatever you think best.”
He went on to write that he believes our meeting was divine intervention. “My 47-year-old daughter, a total believer in angels, cried aloud when I phoned her about you.” She had prayed for God to send an angel to help him decide to go forward with treatments. Apparently, I was that angel.
Do I believe in angels? I don’t know. I do believe in God, and I definitely think things happen for a reason. I’m different now. I’m not climbing Mt. Everest or sky diving, and I haven’t switched to a macrobiotic diet or given up wine. But I see and hear things that may have gone unnoticed before. And I cherish being able to do everyday activities—with the dishes, doing the laundry, cleaning up after dinner, giving my daughters a bath, putting them to bed. It wasn’t long ago that even one of those chores would have exhausted me. Now, it’s just life. My life—moving forward instead of standing still.
Ken said I changed his life. He’s changed mine, too. We wouldn’t know each other if we say each other, but we have become friends through our letters. He recounts stories from his youth; I write to him about our family trips, or how our girls are doing in school. We are both in full remission. He says his treatment brought him no discomfort, and thanked me for the fact that he is cancer free. In his first letter to me, Ken said, “I may not have a great deal of time…but I shall certainly spend it with my family, a family that believes brought you into that waiting room.” I don’t know if I am an angel. What I do know is that Ken’s presence in my life is a blessing. And I look forward to checking the mail more than I ever have before.
Wilton 2009/2010 Holiday