Daniel liked challenges, he was fascinated by planning, as a military strategist the options to defeat them labor, study, family or even climate challenges like the frigid New England winters where he had resided for twenty-five years.
But the challenge that strained his fiber to the maximum had occurred four years ago, the providential early detection of stomach cancer that his doctor said should be operated as soon as possible.
«We have to remove part of your stomach where the tumor is, it could be twenty-five, fifty or seventy-five percent, we will decide when we are operating» Dr. Flaherty had told him.
There was no much time to think, three consecutive tests had reconfirmed the diagnosis, the haste was to prevent the disease from invading the peripheral lymph nodes or other organs.
«Do you know what you have?»-said Dr. Kemler after the endoscopy and seeing him sitting so quietly in bed. Daniel had been hospitalized for three days, he had visited doctor Bevelock for a checkup that seemed routine and following a blood test he was urgently delivered to the hospital -it’s cancer, it’s in your stomach and it’s a tumor the size of a large lemon.
-Yes. I understand, doctor, throughout my life, I have seen this disease claim the lives of many friends, including my mother and younger brother. Now it’s happening to me, I know what it is. Dr. Flaherty has told me with great serenity and integrity that God and he will do the best they can. What better hope can one receive?
-You must have warned your family.
-Yes, I told them it was a stomach disease that they had to operate urgently.
-You should tell them the truth.
-I’ll do it after the operation, I do not want to worry them too much, when Dr. Flaherty tells me how it all went, I’ll let them know.
-It’s your choice, but you should have someone to support you.
-I have someone who is with me day and night.
Dr. Kemler stop writing his notes and looked at him sidelong.
-Oh! I understand- and getting up to leave, he patted his shoulder and said -We’re going to need him a lot.
The operating room seems overwhelming, Daniel still conscious watching the assistants prepare all of the equipment and the doctor saying «everything will go well Daniel, be calm,» » I trust God and you, doctor» and the anesthetist who brings a mask to him and at the same time injected the anesthetic and disconnected from the world and memories until he wakes up and has no memory of what happened, not even a dream, just a void that he only remembers waking up from and thinking «I’m here.» And then he sees a parade of those who loved him and who somehow became aware of the gravity of the situation and tearfully reproach him who for no telling the truth and the nephew who breaks the ice, «Uncle, you look like a Christmas tree with all those cables and lights.»
«Daniel, I had to remove the whole stomach and a small portion of the esophagus, but the operation was a success and we found no invasion of the lymph nodes or organs, but as a precaution within a month you will have to undergo chemo for six months,» said doctor Flaherty.
Later, the oncologist told him that he would also have to receive thirty days of radiation, while waiting for that month, a multitude of doubts invaded him, since there was nothing left of the disease and having not lost any weight he did not want to embark on those toxic and invasive treatments. He was meditating and consulting family and friends who were doctors and they gave him various opinions. When he was most confused, the decision came from where he least expected it.
-Daniel, I am not a believer, but you are. When they apply the chemicals or radiation think that, instead of them, it is Jesus who is entering in your blood – the atheist husband of a cousin hit the spot, from there Daniel only thought about that and had almost no effect of nausea or hair loss, but he did experience much weakness and a decrease of twenty percent of his regular weight, resulting in his thin figure.
For four years, he had to learn to eat very little even when he still had an appetite, the good thing was that he did not lose weight and was able to resume all his activities including the game of soccer without restrictions.
He also lived with the doubt whether the operation had done enough and although he thanked God and the doctors, he always had the idea that something better could happen without the chemo and radiation. It wasn’t until he saw his first grandson that he remembered the words of Dr. Flaherty in his last medical check, «Daniel, stop looking for a reason, you are very well, thank God for this gift with all your heart and think that thanks to this opportunity despite losing something you have able to watch your kids graduate from college and that you’ll play with your grandchildren soon. If it were not for the operation, it is certain that you would not have done it, rejoice Daniel! »
He decided to thank his surgeon as he had not done before and he would do it with the best thing he enjoyed doing, so he wrote a short story and put it in his portfolio and went out to give it to him.