I haunted the hallways, waiting for the doctors to finish their regular morning meeting in the corner room. For days Pedro’s life had hung in the balance while a yeast infection in his blood ravaged his cancer-weakened body. The chemo treatment he had received shortly before the yeast started colonizing had killed off his white blood cells, and his body had nothing left to fight the newest onslaught.
The day before, the doctors had discussed giving Pedro a white blood cell transplant, and had asked about possible sibling donors. I had called Pedro’s only sibling and he stood by, ready to fly to San Francisco and do whatever it took to help out.
I let everyone back home and all of the people on the update email list know about the special prayer request—that Pedro’s brother be a match and that the white blood cell transfusion would turn the tide.
When I saw the resident on call walking towards Pedro’s hospital room, I rushed over and exclaimed, “Pedro’s brother can be here in four hours. Does he need to do anything before he comes to see if he’s a match?”
The doctor shook his head, “A match for what?”
“The white blood cell transfusion!” I exclaimed. I knew everyone discussed each patient every morning, so surely this doctor knew what Pedro needed.
“No one told you?” he asked.
“What?” my heart wavered between my toes and its usual place. The doctor’s stoic expression didn’t reveal much.
“He won’t need the white blood cell transfusion!” A smile broke out on his face. “He’s producing his own white blood cells.” His face sobered. “Now we wait some more.”
I stood there, stunned, as he hurried off down the hallway, muttering something about miracles under his breath.
A miracle of epic proportions, indeed. Pedro’s body had started producing white blood cells again two days earlier than it had at any other point during treatment. The prayer warriors had prayed for a successful transplant, and instead God had provided something even better—he had given Pedro the ability to fight on his own without another procedure.
Looking back, I don’t understand the reason for the miracle (maybe I suffer from a bit of survivor’s guilt by proxy). Thousands of others have prayed for healing and for miracles, and God has answered their prayers differently. My own grandpa suffered a slow death from mesothelioma (lung cancer caused by exposure to asbestos).
But this I do know. God has a purpose for each of us. Our lives do not happen in a void. (tweet this)
Maybe that doctor needed to see a miracle in order to believe in God. Perhaps a nurse needed to know that the selfless way she poured herself out each day on the cancer ward really did make a difference.
Maybe I needed to realize that my arranging and organizing and control had little effect on the outcome of Pedro’s journey—God would perform miracles in his own time and of his own choosing. I needed to relinquish the driver’s seat and concentrate on prayer.
Almost thirteen years have passed since that incident, and Pedro is living out his God-sized dream as the principal of a mission school for Native students. The work never ends, it seems. I don’t mind, though, because I know that God saved him for such a time as this.
Today is World Cancer Day, and I’d like to thank God, first of all, for healing Pedro. I would also like to thank God’s hands and feet—the doctors and nurses at the University of California, San Francisco Parnassus campus who work tirelessly in the Hematology Oncology clinic and in the trenches on Eleven Long. Thank you. Your dedication to healing and helping thirteen years ago makes a difference in the lives of troubled kids today.
What about you? Is there anyone you want to than