My Network

My Network

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Stories of Faith

My Network

One doesn’t know, till one is a bit at odds with the world, how much one’s
friends who believe in one rather generously, mean to one.

~D.H. Lawrence

I have always known that building a strong connecting network was the secret to my career and business success, but I never knew it would help save my life.

On a Thursday at 5:00 P.M., my doctor called. “Sarah—the routine chest X-ray you had this morning revealed a tumor—between your heart and lung—it’s the size of an orange—you need to have a CAT scan ASAP.”

A fear I had tried to deny seized me. Twelve years ago my brother had died of Hodgkin’s disease. Four years later, my mother died of it, and on the day of her funeral my sister was diagnosed with the same cancerous demon. All three had tumors in their chest—like me.

My panicked mind raced as fast as my fingers on the phone pad. Knowing we’d need pre-approval, my husband, Fred, and I spent the entire next day, Friday, trying to convince my insurance company to approve this desperately needed test.

They finally agreed at four o’clock and we rushed to get it done that evening, only to be told that the radiologist couldn’t read it for a day or so. We wouldn’t know anything until Monday morning.

I knew that these lymphatic tumors could double in size in seven days! Waiting three was not an option. I did the only thing I knew to do in times of crisis. I prayed. “Please, God, connect me with the right people to help me.”

Suddenly, a friendly client came to mind whose stepfather repaired radiology equipment for the hospital where my CAT scan was done. I knew it was a long shot. But after one phone call, he drove fifteen miles in a blizzard to meet us at the hospital and introduce us to the doctor, who then spent an hour showing us the scans of my fast-growing tumor. He said I needed a vascular surgeon to perform the biopsy confirming the cancer type. There were only a handful of these surgeons in town.

On our fourth call, we found one who took my insurance and agreed to do it on Wednesday. Our relief was short-lived—twenty-four hours later I was bumped off his schedule for a week due to an open-heart case that took priority.

Once again we turned to my network for help. We called an old friend and colleague of my husband’s, an internal medicine doctor in Denver whom we hadn’t talked to in five years. She immediately called a vascular surgeon, who agreed to see us that afternoon. Forty-eight hours later, I was on the operating table having my biopsy. However, again it was a Friday—no results until Monday afternoon.

Yet again, we turned to my network for help. We called a friend in San Antonio who had a friend who was a pathologist in Arkansas who told us what to say and do to get the on-call pathologist to come in and meet with us.

Forty-five minutes later, on a snowy, cold Saturday morning, Fred and I were looking through a microscope with the pathologist showing us my tissue biopsy confirming classic Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

When we met with my doctor on Monday morning, we told him what my cancer was... he hadn’t even seen the report yet!

After three surgical procedures, a nuclear PET scan and several other diagnostic staging workups, three weeks after my diagnosis, my chemotherapy began.

For five months, over seventy people in our network—including clients, coworkers, colleagues, friends, neighbors and parents of my children’s classmates—brought meals to our home during my chemo weeks. I’m the only person I know who gained twelve pounds on chemo!

My two daughters decorated a three-ring binder to hold over 250 cards, e-mails and letters I received from my vast network. The cover simply read, “Mom’s Cancer Blessings.” I dragged this thirty-pound book with me to chemo every week for five months to read the inspiring and uplifting words from my network of encouragement.

My network also connected me to over one hundred prayer chains throughout the world. I will never really know how many people prayed for my recovery, but I can tell you I felt the power of prayer. I’m convinced I would not be in remission and completely cancer-free today without them—and my Divine Connector!

~Sarah Michel

Chicken Soup for the Christian Soul 2

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