“Mr. Smith, your esophagus is cracked. We can do surgery but you will not survive it. Or we can keep you comfortable”. The doctor’s words cut like a knife. Through an incredible swollen face, dad said, “Well, you have to do the surgery”. The dr. took me out in the hallway. “Ms. Smith, with your father’s age and his history of esophageal cancer, he will never survive surgery. Do you want us to make him comfortable?” My mind began to whirl as the realization of what he was saying began to sink in. “No! He said he wants surgery, you have to operate!” “Are you sure?” “Yes!” I replied. In a blur they were all gone, running for the operating room. I ran outside to call my sisters: Tammie in Oklahoma, Mary at work at the prison, and Pam at work at the daycare. I asked Pam to pick up my kids from school, and called to alert the school as to what was happening. Then I called people to ask them to begin praying.
In August 2002, a year after losing his wife to pancreatic cancer, Herman Smith was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. He underwent chemo and radiation. During a follow up endoscopy he was told the cancer was gone, and the family rejoiced. He still had to have periodic endoscopies. I accompanied him to his appointments and was allowed to sit in the room while they completed the procedure. However, one day they changed his appointment at the last minute, from 11 AM to 8 AM. I had to drop my children off at school, so I was late getting there, and they had already taken him in. I waited in the waiting room, and it became a longer wait than normal. I went up to the window and asked: The nurse told me I could go back there. I would not have recognized him if I hadn’t recognized the shirt he was wearing. His face was incredibly swollen. The dr. came over and said we had a little problem, and he might need to have a “little surgery” to fix it. A nurse put him in a wheelchair, and took us across the street to the hospital. As soon as we came into the emergency room, the staff swung into action.
Now, waiting alone in the waiting area, I prayed. “Thy will be done. But if you choose to take him now, at least let my sisters get here in time”. Periodically I would think of someone who hadn’t been called yet, and I would go out to make that call. My sisters arrived, and together we sat and waited. I lost track of time: How many hours had he been in there? Finally, the dr. emerged. “Well, he survived the surgery, but he will never survive the recovery period. He is in the recovery room, and he will be going to ICU from there.” He was still alive. That was all I needed to know at that moment. When we saw him in ICU, he had tubes everywhere, and his face was swollen beyond recognition. Later that night, I went on my computer at home. I belonged to several groups: a cancer support group, a dachshund owners group, a Christian ladies group. I began posting in every group, letting them know what the situation was and asking for immediate prayer. I posted prayer requests everywhere I could think of to post. My internet friends from across the country began praying. I wish I could say the healing was instantaneous, but it was not. Dad spent a total of 40 days in the hospital, most of which in ICU. He developed a MSRA infection. There were many ups and downs along the way. Today, if you ask the dr. about it, he shakes his head and says dad should not have survived. He lost his battle 16 months later to esophageal cancer. But we had 16 more months to say “I love you” every morning.
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