A shining light with St. Pio holding the torch.
Monday night my stomach was in a heap. I knew I was meeting my medical team the following morning (Tuesday). Not easy to do but the 5 days of waiting since my CT SCANS were taken, I had to compartmentalise my mind. Anything else and it would drive a madman insane, I said that last piece on purpose, think about it. I had to look at it like a change in meteorological conditions during a balloon flight. How ? Well in that this has already happened and regardless what I do, think or say, it will NOT influence the end scenario. Just fly the balloon Aidan, as best and as safely as you can. That's exactly what I did. Keeping my sanity till I got Tuesday mornings scan results.
Alison drove me on the 40 minute drive to the Bons Secour Private Hospital in Glasnevin, Dublin. My stomach was without a doubt totally knotted. A trip to the toilet before leaving confirmed it. All the days of not thinking about today had vanished. My mind was now locked in results mode and it was not going to let me discount it anymore. As Alison weaved us both between the mid-morning Tuesday traffic, I said a quiet prayer to Padre Pio:
"St. Pio, I know you are with me on this journey, please be with me today, for the love of God, please".
Walking up the steps into the Hospital was like walking on cushions. I was quietly composed to anyone I walked past on the way to the 2nd floor 'Day Oncology Dept' but to the trained eye I was having kittens. Quick and shallow breaths were the order of the day. We were just in about 3 minutes and I spot my Oncologist 'Dr. Oscar Breathnach' with the corner of my eye (my good eye with its adaptive wide angle field of vision). He comes over to me, wearing a big smile and as cool as ya like, just taps me on the shoulder and becons both myself and Alison to follow him along with his senior Oncologist staff nurse Jakki into the onsite glass meeting room, a room within a room if you like.
Within seconds, the Doc (as I affectionately call him) opens up:
"It's good, We have considerable shrinkage so things are definitely moving in the right direction". I ask him if he is happy with the progress? "Absolutely Aidan, very much so".
The clues were everywhere this morning
My good friends, Helen & Barry Colgan captured this one.
I glance over at Jakki, his 2nd in command. I spot Saint Jakkie (as I christened her) looking straight at me and wearing a beautiful smile. Jakki is one of the most experienced Oncology staff nurses in the Bons Secour. Here's the twist, I have alluded here to this before: I know Jakki over 20 years. Ironically, It's Jackie's front garden we land the Santa helicopter in every year to pick up a larger than life white bearded man in a flash red suit before flying him directly into Aoife's school to the screams of 500+ kids.
Dr. Breathnach continues, "I'm very happy with your progress Aidan but we are still going to continue with the same regiment of treatment. It's working well and you appear to be able to cope with it but we must watch out for you too. I understand your positive outlook on this and that's great but we must be mindful that you are only human too".
Undoubtedly, wise words from a tenured and seasoned Oncologist who has been around the block or two.
Am I biased? Absolutely, of course I am 😊
My closing words was to thank Dr. Breathnach for 'working his magic'. I announce:
"I just show up here every 3 weeks but you guys make it happen".
Everybody in the room is now wearing a smile. I'm probably wearing the biggest one.
Acutely aware and respectful of the massive support I have, I manage to fire off a handful of texts to those closest to me, giving a heads up that it's all good.
Michael Glen (Arizona USA), a close and trusted friend
and he who became the World's First Licensed Paraplegic
Hot Air Balloon Pilot offers his quick witt reply via text this morning.
After the delivery of the fantastic news, I'm taken to a side-room. It's not my Chemo Day but it's good airmanship, oops, I mean 'nursemanship' ??? to take bloods from me to check my cell count. It will give my medical team a heads up if my white blood cells will be high enough next week, for the day I've come to call 'Murf's Toxic Tuesday'.
As I'm waiting for the results to come back, a lady 'Ann' one of the embedded hospital admin staff pops her head around the corner, "Hi Aidan, are you receiving Holy Communion today". I usually (always) say no, but the word "YES" quiet literally jumped out of my mouth before I could stop it. Within seconds, the most surreal thing happened...
Fr. Owen O'Sullivan (a Capuchin Priest), the same order as Padre Pio whisked around the corner in his vestments and presented me with the host to receive. I immediately felt St. Pio's presence in the room. Instantly, I could (somehow) feel lots of love in our side room. This was so strange to me but it felt so normal too, how strange is that eh? As Fr. Owen placed the host in my hand, it just all became too much for me. I just burst out crying. The tears streaming down my face. Here's the thing, I didn't feel embarrassed, I felt I was among close friends and family. I have a private deep thought moment to myself "St. Pio, you beautiful Person, you didn't let me down".
Poor Fr. Owen didn't know what to do. I'm sure he thought I had just received horrible news when it was of course quiet the contrary. Myself and Alison shared a quiet moment of humour amongst ourselves on this. I owe Fr. Owen an explanation on this and he'll get one via a letter I will post to the Bons Secour tomorrow. Myra, my lovely Myra gets in on the act and gives me a HI-5 as she's hands myself and Alison a much needed coffee and kit-kat. I instantly remember the tag line, 'Have a Break, have a Kit Kat'. That's some break I got this morning I tell myself. Go Myra !!
So things are going well. This tumour is shrinking. With the strength of today's result, I now will be trying twice as hard. More ressilance, more gusto, more focus and of course more thanks and prayers to St. Pio. I'm also pretty sure my dear late Mum 'Ann Murphy' was keeping an eye on things today too, no surer thing.
For my part, if you, a family member or friend are going thru similar to me right now and you want somebody to vent to, to cry to, to ask, to talk to, to walk to, I'm here.
My email, phone, text, messenger and WhatsApp were buzzing non-stop all day with messages of support, support of the good news. Thank you each and every one of you. Having this kind of support means a massive amount to me. I can't emphasise that enough. This fight can be very lonely and indeed for some of, it must be. But then comes the part where the company is wanted and very much needed. That's where you come in. THANK YOU.
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