Category Archives: 100millionprayers

What’s Happening??

Sorry for my long silence, friends and readers. Last fall, I was feeling hopeful. My husband had been enrolled in one of the most exciting clinical trials in cancer. It was for one of these PDL-1 immunotherapy drugs that everyone is gushing over as a breakthrough treatment. Indeed, some patients have had a phenomenal response and have gone into a seeming remission.

Unfortunately, Felder was among the 50% of people who did not respond to the drug. He tried three more types of chemotherapy, and finally this week, he entered into home hospice. He is too weak to try anything else.

I told him I was still praying, but obviously my prayers weren’t doing a heap of good, maybe I should stop.

He grabbed my hand and said, “DON’T STOP.”

So, I told him despite all medical evidence, I will continue to ask for a good old-fashioned, “Praise Jesus,” rock-n-roll miracle.

When I think, “Well, why should I get a miracle when so many others don’t?” I just ask God to give one to everyone who asks. The world needs more miracles, don’t you think?

On the Day You Were Born

100millionlogoThe morning after his surgery, I woke up crying and puking simultaneously. What to Expect says vomiting in the third trimester is normal. (Well, I think it did. In retrospect, I was kind of out of it.)

On Tuesday, I called in sick from work. I felt spacey. Anxiety, I thought. Only five days previously, I’d been to my 32 week check-up, and everything was fine.

On Thursday, I went to therapy. What a dreary session. Talking about everything that had gone wrong and what might happen next had upset my stomach. I couldn’t eat anything, which was odd because at that point in my pregnancy, I ate like a 15 year old boy.

My husband was home by that time, lying in our room with a pain patch.

I slept in the back bedroom, so I wouldn’t disturb him. I missed our previous life. Happy in our own bed, in our own place. My mom was visiting us. She knew I needed her.

“Mom, will you stay with me tonight?” I asked. I didn’t want to be alone. I fell asleep and woke up around midnight. Mom was dozing at my feet.

“I don’t feel well,” I told her. I googled my doctor’s name, but couldn’t find his phone number.

I went to the bathroom, held my upper abdomen, and thought, “This pregnancy feels toxic.”

I gingerly lowered myself into bed, and that’s the last thing I remember.

They tell me I had a grand mal seizure caused by a sudden spike in blood pressure. It’s called eclampsia and is quite rare these days. When she noticed me convulsing, my mom ran downstairs to wake up the house and call an ambulance. When she came back, I was covered in blood. I had nearly bitten off my tongue.

(Months later, all you Downton Abbey fans will know that Lady Sybil died in childbirth from eclampsia. Who knew I was so chic and cutting edge? Most women have pre-eclampsia. I did not. I’ve told my story to several doctors, and they all say it was a weird presentation. No one could have predicted it. Yeah, we’re special.)

Anyway, we live a block from the hospital. It was the shortest ambulance ride in the history of our town. Within an hour, my husband was in scrubs, in a wheelchair situated at the foot of my unconscious body, while my doctor performed a C-section to save my and my daughter’s lives, pausing only to sew up my tongue so I wouldn’t choke on the blood.

My husband told me that little Kella—her name Irish for “warrior”—emerged from behind the surgical screens, cried and kicked the doctor before they whisked her to the NICU.

“Feisty little thing,” they all said approvingly. “She’s going to be fine.”

It would be a few days before they could say the same about me.

I remember waking up in a dark room, with a morphine drip and a nurse asked if I knew where I was. I must have said no.

“You are in the hospital. You had a seizure two days ago. You had a C-section. Your daughter is fine. She is in the NICU.”

The piece of my brain that was still functioning was like, “WHAT? OH MY GOD!!!!!”

But all I could muster was a moan, and I soon fell back to sleep.

I must have slept for days. I’d wake up from time to time and see my mom asleep in the recliner at night. My father-in-law sat there in the morning, and my mother-in-law took the afternoon shift. My husband sat with me, too, but I don’t remember it.

He told me later that I woke on one occasion, and he asked me if I was in pain. I looked him in the eyes and said, “Yes, I have blood coming out of my vagina,” or “Yeth, I haff bwood comin out o my vadyina.” Alarmed, he called the nurse.

That story makes me laugh.

For a time, my family worried that something terrible had happened to my brain. I wasn’t making any sense. I was barely responsive and when I tried to communicate, they couldn’t understand a word I was saying. The doctors assured them that I was on heavy duty meds, and my tongue injury had caused my sudden speech impediment.

Five days and a glorious shower later, I was me again. Well, a fragile, frightened me, but off all the anti-seizure drugs that had made me a shell of my former self.

And I was pissed! My doctor walked in my room and said, “Boy am I glad to see you again!”

He must have sensed by my dramatic scowl that I was feeling sorry for myself. I had missed my daughter’s birth. She was in the NICU, and would be for at least another month. My husband and I were both in wheelchairs at the moment. He was still unemployed and in terrible pain, and there was still that “curious tumor” to diagnose.

“Look,” my doc said, “You have every right to be mad about all this, but you should know, it might not seem so, but you are a lucky woman. 10% of women in your situation never wake up again. Things were very touch and go for you for a time. You are lucky to be alive, and your daughter won’t be in the NICU forever. She is going to be fine.”

I hadn’t realized how close to death I’d come. It must have been the post-partum hormones, but I suddenly felt euphoric.

“My God, WE WERE ALL ALIVE!!” I wanted to rejoice.

Funny how emotions are. Mine were everywhere.

Your 100 Million Prayers for Cancer

Lotus Temple, India

Lotus Temple, New Dehli, India

I had this idea. Why don’t I ask all the people who are praying for us to post photos with a sign that says “100 Million Prayers for Cancer.” Wouldn’t that be neat?

I can just envision all the fabulous photo opportunities. “I’m going to launch today,” I think.

Days pass. “Problem is, “ I think to myself, “I don’t know how to do it. Maybe I’ll get some student to do it for me. I’m too busy.”

I called an old college friend of mine, who I haven’t talked to in ages for advice. She’s great at social media stuff. “What are you waiting for?” she finally asked.

“I don’t know,” I thought. “To plan everything just right? To feel confident? What if I mess up? What if I look stupid?”

Then I thought, “Who cares?”

You know what? We get so caught up in how we look to others—OK, I get so caught up in how I look to others that I lose track of what’s important sometimes.

When it comes down to it, I really don’t care if everyone in the world sends me a photo or says a prayer. I just want my husband to get better. I want his cancer to go into remission. I want cancer researchers to come up with more breakthroughs. I want more patients to have access to clinical trials and new medicines. I want cancer to go away!

Today is the 10 year anniversary of when my husband and I first met. I want another 10 years! And then another, and another and another! I’m greedy for time.

I like to remind myself that all of my dad’s doctors said he couldn’t live one year, let alone the 15 he actually did. Dad walked me down the aisle on my wedding day! “Impossible!” they all said. I dream my daughter will have that same joy.

I’m calling this idea 100 Million Prayers for Cancer, but I don’t think I actually need 100 million prayers to get God to listen to me. I don’t need this to “go viral” in order to have a miracle (or not.)  Do I really need people to pat me on the shoulder here? No. I’m over it. There are more important things.

Cancer is something that regardless of what you believe or don’t believe, whatever your politics, your culture, your nationality, your age, how you look, how much money you have, or where you live— we all can agree that CANCER HAS GOT TO GO.

So, wherever you are, please say a prayer or send positive vibes, that cancer will finally get its cure. And while you’re at it, please pray for my husband’s healing and for everyone out there, whether you know them or not, who is fighting this crazy, scary battle.

Underneath it all, this is what matters. This is what we all share. Love and fear and loss and loneliness. We forget that we’re all connected, that we’re not alone.

Please post a photo in my gallery with a sign that you’re praying. I guess I’ll start a tumblr site soon. Bear with me. I’m a little technically challenged.

Thank you.

If you would like to do more than pray, please feel free to make a small donation, or heck, if you can afford it—a large one, to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center’s rare kidney cancer research fund.

Please post your photo on 100 Million Prayers’ facebook page, or tweet #100millionprayers.