Pregnancy is often a time of dreaming about the future, anticipating the good times you will have with child as they grow and go through life, and wondering if it will be a boy or a girl. It is usually a happy and joyful time for the soon to be mom and dad and the date of delivery, often, can’t come soon enough.
For the past 6 months all that was true for Elisabeth and Nick. She was pregnant for the first time, she was excited about feeling her baby move, they were wondering if it was a boy or a girl and who it would look like, etc. Then a month ago, Elisabeth started feeling weak, tired, and her gums started swelling making it difficult for her to eat. At a time when she should be happy and looking forward to the baby, she was wondering what was wrong with her.
Her concerns were appropriate. Today, instead of happily anticipating the birth of their first born, Elisabeth and Nick are wrestling with the news that she has leukemia (cancer of her blood) and is most likely going to die in the next few weeks to months. Instead of thinking of the future with their child, she is struggling just to live another day.
Elisabeth will never see her son or daughter crawl, walk, take their first step, go to school or get married. She will not be able to live out those dreams and desires she has been thinking of for the past 7 months. Nick will not be able to watch his wife raise their child, and instead will find the responsibility falling on his shoulders.
This is a lot for anyone to handle. I always wonder if the patients really understand what I am saying when I tell them about their cancer and their prognosis, but the tears in Elisabeth’s eyes told me she understood, all too well, what I was saying. I try not to let patients and their conditions affect me. But today with Elisabeth, my heart broke open and I couldn’t stop the tears, hers or mine. Her hopes and dreams are gone and she knows it. She is going to die, and unfortunately I have nothing, that I can do to stop it. Between the tears, I managed to pray for her and hold her as she cried.
Medicine has its limitations and this is one instance where that is all too clear. We are going to try and keep her alive for another few weeks in order to get the baby big enough to deliver and then will attempt to give her what little medicines we have to try and fight her leukemia. Unfortunately, we have a 100% failure rate with this kind of leukemia, so our chances aren’t so good. Thankfully, there is only one who gives and takes away life and it isn’t me. God has known the number of each of our days before we were born. He is the only one who can give life and both Elisabeth and Nick need life, eternal life.
They don’t go to church and don’t know Jesus. As we talked, they allowed me to share the story of Jesus with them. I couldn’t think of a better time to share with them than this Holy Thursday. A time when we get ready to think of Jesus’s death, but then rejoice in His Resurrection and the life that He gives to each of us who believe. In some ways, Elisabeth will be doing just what Jesus did for her for her child. She will be giving her life in order to give life to her unborn baby, just as Jesus gave His life for us. I pray that Elisabeth and Nick will believe and experience that resurrected life themselves. This leukemia does not have to be the end for Elisabeth she can see her baby again in heaven, pray that she will come to know Jesus this Easter weekend.