The Ultimate Mulligan

If second chances were a punch card I think mine would almost be full.

I married my high school sweetheart after 20+ years.  We found each other again and let me tell you it had nothing to do with Facebook, nope it was good old coincidence.

I had a miscarriage between Andrew and Bella that really threw me for a loop, but Bella is the silver lining in that scenario.

But my ultimate mulligan came in March of 1997.  We were living in Conway Arkansas and I was working part time as the director of an after school program for elementary school kids at our church.

Andrew was about a year and a half, and I was not feeling all that great.  I had discovered a large protrusion in my abdomen and was fairly certain it was a hernia.  So I went to the doctor and he ordered a cat scan.

I was expecting to have the cat scan and schedule an appointment with my doctor for the results and treatment for my hernia.

The next seven days were a blur.

The radiologist sat me down and said to me that my spleen was the size of a football and that can only mean that I have cancer.  The only thing we needed to figure out was whether it was non-hodgkins lymphoma or hodgkins lymphoma.

What?

I went right to my doctor’s office and he sat down with me and John and told us that the next course of action was to make an appointment with an oncologist, have the spleen removed so they can determine what kind of cancer it is, and start chemo and radiology.  I can’t remember why he said what he said next but I will remember it until the day I die.  He told me that you can’t pray cancer away.

side note this particular doctor three weeks later was arrested for cocaine possession

I remember meeting with the oncologist, Dr. Mendelssohn (yes it’s true) and doing lots of blood work tests.  He was the nicest man I have ever met.  He had grey hair, soft gentle eyes, and spoke very clearly.  Remembering him is bringing tears to my eyes.  He saw cancer patients everyday.  He saw the destruction that cancer causes everyday.  He treated me with compassion, hope, and truth.

I had to get some bone marrow taken out of my hip to determine whether or not my bone marrow was functioning.  I will spare you the details of that procedure.  It was functioning so I had to have my spleen removed.

I met with my surgeon Dr. Stanton who was a family friend (small town Arkansas).  I remember being prepped for surgery, and having to have an epidural put in my back.

side note I went through natural childbirth without an epidural so that I would never have to have a needle  put into my back…so much for that

He came in and put his hand on my shoulder and told me that everything was going to be alright.  The peace he gave me in that moment is once again causing me to tear up.

I had the surgery.

Then I had to wait.

I was in the hospital for a week after my surgery and I remember my surgeon was out of town on the day the pathology report came in so his partner came into my room to give me the results.

I didn’t have cancer.

What?

I didn’t have cancer.  I had a crazy disease called cystic lymphangiomatosis. It was a very VERY rare condition where my spleen had been taken over by cysts.

What?

I remember being alone when he came in.  I remember feeling that I was glad I was alone when I got the news.  I didn’t have anybody in the room to cheer and hug and breathe that big sigh of relief.  Only myself and my thoughts about life and mulligans.

When I found out I had cancer I never made any deals.  You know the kind…if I survive this I’ll volunteer and never eat ice cream again and floss everyday.  I found out that I was a fighter.  I vowed to beat this with information and attitude.

When I found out I didn’t have cancer I didn’t resolve to volunteer and never eat ice cream again and floss everyday.  I found out that I was a realist.  I vowed to live my life with gratitude and joy.

I remember sitting in that hospital room alone and just flat out being thankful and just enjoying that moment.

That experience taught me to enjoy moments.  To live each and everyday with a heart of gratitude, and to not take anything for granted.  Because you just never know.

I forget those lessons all the time.

I have forgotten those lessons over the past months.  I have not enjoyed the moments of my life lately.  I have forgotten to be thankful for all that I am blessed with.

I need a reminder that while I am wishing for the future my life is happening.

photo

This blurry picture helps me do just that.  This was taken days before my surgery.  I look so sick and sallow.  But that boy in my lap is concerned with only the moment.  He needed me to be happy and healthy.  He still does.  A lot of people do.  I plan on doing just that.

Our second chance punch card is very abundant, but not limitless.  Each and every day we are given another chance to do better than the day before, to take care of ourselves and others, and to live life to its fullest.

I really am no expert, but today I am going to take those mulligans seriously because you just never know.

More Later

Amy

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