All four corners of the poster were curling to the center. Tape, yellowed with age, was slowly peeling by centimeters. If she laid there long enough, she supposed she could watch the end of the debilitating process. She didn’t intend to. An Easter lily, surrounded by splashes of purple, dominated the heart of the picture. She wondered if they realized it was October.
“The doctor is on his way in now. It won’t be long. Are you comfortable?” the technician asked.
Peg nodded her head and resumed her study of the poster lily floating on the ceiling tiles. Several words were printed across the bottom but without her glasses she had difficulty making out the letters. If she squinted the nurse might think she was crying. She had done enough of that already.
The doctor swept through the door and took his position next to her left arm. “Do you want to watch your procedure on the ultrasound?” She glanced over her right shoulder to view the screen.
Peg wondered if he was joking. Politely, she declined with an excuse that she didn’t enjoy watching medical shows. She’d rather decipher the lily’s message. Barely making out the first two words, she suppressed a sigh. JESUS IS. She knew this was a Christian office but was still surprised. Peg had called on her God but not the Jesus that her Christian friends kept telling her she needed to meet. For thirty-seven days, she’d petitioned and bargained on her knees while waiting for her biopsies. She knew He must not have heard because the weight of her fear was as heavy as when she was first diagnosed.
“You are going to feel a slight sting and a little burn when I inject the pain medicine. I’m going to aspirate the cyst first and then we will go after the nodule.”
He was accurate with his description. Peg winced slightly from the first prick willing herself to stay calm. Three irregularities within one breast. She worried about her odds. She was familiar with some of them after watching her sister struggle with her own battle. Her odds were higher than she thought she could bear.
“I’m going to insert the hollow needle now. You’ll feel a slight pressure as we go through the breast. Let me know if you experience any pain.”
“Aaaaah!” She did. The doctor quickly inserted another needle and a warm sensation flooded her shaking feet. Peg searched the lily again and thought about their last Easter. She and her husband had stayed home from the church down the street because she hadn’t bought a new dress and didn’t want to stand out. Their meal had been a frozen pizza since their daughter was visiting a friend out of state. There was nothing reminiscent of her childhood holidays.
Peg risked squinting and identified the last word on the worn poster. HOPE.
JESUS IS HOPE. Instantly, she was flooded with more warmth than the medicine had earlier offered. Could Jesus be the answer? She wanted to believe. She needed to believe.
“Now I’m going to start suctioning the nodule. We’ll get it all.” The technician leaned over her other arm and assisted the doctor with scooping the cells into a waiting container. Over and over, they repeated the process until every piece of suspect tissue was removed. Finally, when Peg decided she could no longer remain in her fixed position, it was over.
“We are going to apply some pressure on the opening and then we’ll get you up and out of here.” The doctor was already backing out the door promising to see her again in three days for the second procedure. Peg glanced back to the ceiling and squeezed her eyes shut. HOPE. A faded Easter lily had delivered her a promise and hopefully would deliver it to the next woman who would soon take her place.
She swung her legs over the side of the table.
“How are you feeling? Are you doing alright?” The technician’s waiting arm reached for hers.
“I’m fine now. Thank you for everything,” she paused, “and thanks for the flowers.” Peg eyed the poster one more time and planted her feet on firm ground.
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