When given this prompt, the first thing I thought of was my almost life-long ordeal with cancer.

cloud-1574772_1920Little did I know when I had a melanoma at age 19 that this disease was going to impact my life again and again. Luckily, at 19 I also did not understand the seriousness of my diagnosis, but I did realize that my mother had the keen eyesight of a hawk to notice the small red spot on my chin. I was one of Dr. Slate’s miracles, as he used to say.

I went on to graduate from college, get a graduate degree, get married, teach school, have a child, and do the regular things that everybody does. But right after mother died in 1998 I woke up on the morning of August 31 with my hand on a lump. That began a long and painful process with breast cancer. I had surgery and 6 chemo treatments and am here to tell you that Hell itself cannot be any worse than that. Being the strong woman type, I continued to teach during this time and received great encouragement from my colleagues. I recovered and led a normal life again until 2002 when the cancer recurred and I had to have to have more surgery but no treatments.

In 2003 I retired after 30 years of teaching, served 6 very long years on the Board of Education, became more involved in my church, spent time with family and friends, traveled, developed new hobbies and just enjoyed life.

Last August I had a gallbladder attack and was sent to the hospital for surgery to remove a stone that was lodged in my bile duct; however, that doctor said that the area was infected and recommended, or insisted that I have the gallbladder removed. Of all the amazing things that could have happened, the surgeon who removed my gallbladder was the same one who had done my stomach surgery exactly 20 years before.

You can only imagine my shock when she called the following week to tell me that my gallbladder had been cancerous and that was the first time in her career that she had seen that particular rare phenomenon. So I had to start back to my oncologist, get routine MRI’s and begin a whole new process. So far, so good.

The point of this story is that my very life has been guided and saved by God’s divine intervention (mother’s keen eyesight; waking up with my hand on the lump; the gallstone). I’m not sure why I’m still here, but I do know that this is a story of a very strong woman who is guided by faith. To those who would say that I’ve just been lucky I would say, “not that many times.”

CLICK HERE to read other poems and stories by Linda Barnette.

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