I just recently lost a patient, and I’m taking this one especially hard. She was only 38 years old with a husband and two young children. She was one of my first primary breast cancer patients. I treated her. I encouraged her. I loved her. I fought with and for her in her battle with cancer. And she died. She wasn’t supposed to die! What did I do wrong? What could we have done differently? In the last few weeks of her life she started complaining of a headache. I documented it. Treated it. Gave her new meds, took away meds, encouraged adequate hydration and maintained her blood counts. She still had a headache off and on. She had been receiving a particular chemotherapy regimen in treatment of her breast cancer and we were right at the end where we’d order a PET/CT scan to see if the cancer had decreased or gone away completely. We never got to do that scan because before we knew it she was being admitted to the hospital due to the onset of seizure activity. Brain MRI revealed the cancer had spread to the meninges of the brain. With this knowledge, her already guarded prognosis (outlook) immediately took a nose dive. I was devastated. I’m still devastated to be honest. My heart literally aches at the void her death leaves for her family, especially her husband, children and mother. Lord, why?
Our God is in the heavens, and he does as he wishes. (Psalm 115:3 NLT)
Though it was not clearly indicated nor was it “standard of care” to do so, what would have happened if I had ordered a scan when the headaches first started? Would the situation have turned out differently? However, the end result would have been the same, as it was God’s will. But it still stinks. I thank God that I had the opportunity to positively impact her life and share God’s goodness with her. I wanted God to heal her. I prayed for God to heal her. I didn’t want her taken away from her family. Yet, I know that you never know when it is your time to go and it behooves you to be ready.
“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42 NIV)
She’s gone now. Her family is left to pick up the pieces. This takes me back to the place when my mom died…heart wrenching, gut tearing pain. I have learned a lot from this situation and I know it is cultivating me as a health care provider. But God, does it have to be this way?
“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9 NLT)
Glad to be girded up in scripture to help me in times of weakness, grief and sorrow. I’m praying so hard for her family right now. I wish the outcome could have been different but God didn’t ask me. Nevertheless, He is the only one to turn to and lean and depend on. His love endures forever.
Grant us peace in the midst of the storm. Help us find solace in knowing we did all we could do. We know nothing comes as a surprise to You in Your omnipresence and omnipotence. Thanks for reminding us that You alone are in control. Help us to accept Your will. In Jesus’ name, amen!
Ladies, I EMPOWER you as I EMPOWER myself to stay in the race and to not lose hope. I EMPOWER you to help all you can while you can. I EMPOWER you to do what you can while you can. I EMPOWER you to make your life mean something today because tomorrow is not promised. I EMPOWER you to continue to look to God even when it seems He’s not doing what we want. I EMPOWER you to trust Him and to trust that He knows what He’s doing no matter how it may seem.
Mrs. Coretta Collins is a wife and mother who enjoys reading, writing, movies and spending time with family and friends. She is avid about health, healing and helping which serves her well as a Family Nurse Practitioner in a hematology and oncology practice. Striving to be led by the Lord throughout life and having overcome significant challenges, her favorite scripture is Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. Coretta is a member of St. John A.M.E. Church, Birmingham, Alabama. She resides in Calera, Alabama with her awesome husband and two wonderful sons.