41: My Breast Cancer Angel

41: My Breast Cancer Angel

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miracles Happen

My Breast Cancer Angel

Angels have no philosophy but love.

~Terri Guillemets

I sat at my desk twitching and fearfully glancing out the window. It was raining like I never saw it rain before. But it wasn’t the rain I was afraid of, it was the thunder and lightning. With tears in my eyes, I turned the page and continued pretending to read my book. However, when an almost blinding bolt of lightning shot across the sky followed by an earsplitting boom of thunder, I almost knocked over several students sitting in their desks as I ran to hide behind the nun’s long black habit. She laughed as she lovingly put her arms around me and quoted her favorite scripture, “For He shall give his angels charge over thee,” before calming my fears. I was in the third grade then, and from that day to the present, I no longer fear anything. Sister Maria’s logic always included an angel or angelic activity for everything, and before that school year ended, so did mine.

No matter where I went or what I was doing, I believed I had an angel watching over me. But as I grew older, my childlike faith and belief in their existence began to fade until I seldom thought about them.

On my fortieth birthday, someone gave me a beautiful figurine of an angel, and that began my collection. Although I no longer believed in angels, I liked to collect them.

One day while in a store browsing, I noticed an angel figurine with a light pink breast cancer ribbon on her chest and the words faith, hope and believe written around the hem of her light and dark pink robe. She was absolutely beautiful, perfect for my collection. I wanted to buy her, but I wasn’t out shopping for angels, and I didn’t know anyone with breast cancer. As I reluctantly placed her back on the shelf, I thought I heard a soft, but firm, voice whisper, “Buy her.” I quickly turned around to see who said it, but nobody was there. For weeks after, thoughts of the angel and the voice consumed me. However, I assumed it was all part of a foolish childhood belief, and I was no longer a child.

A few months later, a routine mammogram, followed by a sonogram and biopsy, revealed Stage II breast cancer. After the shock of it wore off, thoughts of the breast cancer angel came to mind. I returned to the store to buy her but she was gone. I wondered what was going to happen to me since I hadn’t obeyed the voice. I shuddered at the thought. I searched every store that sold angels but I never found her.

After my surgery, I opened my eyes for a moment in the recovery room and saw my mother, my fiancé and a nurse standing behind them dressed in pink-ribbon scrubs. The next day, although I slept most of the time, I vaguely remember a nurse taking my vital signs and giving me a shot. But I clearly remember the nurse in the pink scrubs was there too. She stood by the side of my bed, smiled and told me I was going to be fine.

When I finally became more alert, I asked my mother if she knew the name of the beautiful nurse in pink-ribbon scrubs. She said no one fitting that description was ever in my room. “Yes, there was a nurse in the room,” I said, “she was standing behind you and Wilson.” My mother said she didn’t know who I was talking about. When I asked my fiancé and the other nurses the same question and described the woman, they all said the same thing: they didn’t see or know of anyone in the unit fitting that description.

The night before my release, I saw the nurse dressed in pink hurrying by. Excited, I called out, “Nurse! Nurse!” Too groggy, weak and hooked up to too many contraptions to quickly get out of bed, I hit the call button to the nurses’ station.

“Can I help you?” came the question.

“Yes, can you please ask the nurse dressed in pink if she’d stop by my room?”

“The nurse dressed in pink? Hold please.” A second later, she said, “I’m sorry but there’s no one on staff dressed in pink tonight. Is there a particular nurse you’d like to see?”

“Yes! The one in pink, she just passed by my room.”

“I’ll be right there.” A few minutes later, a nurse knocked and entered. “Are you in pain?” she asked.

“No, I just want to talk to the nurse in the pink scrubs,” I answered.

“As I stated before, there’s no one on staff or on this floor dressed in pink tonight. If you’re okay, I need to get back to the desk. Ring if you need anything.” She turned and left the room. Disappointed and confused, but knowing what I saw, I slowly drifted off to sleep.

For months, I was in and out of the hospital, but I never saw that nurse nor did I ever ask for her again. However, I often thought about her—her beautiful smile, consoling voice and reassuring words. Not only did they uplift me, they seemed to sustain me. I felt like a third grader again. I no longer feared or worried as battle after battle raged. I now had a sense of peace and assurance in the mist of my storms.

Years after my surgery, I walked into a store and saw an angel figurine dressed in pink ribbon scrubs with features just like the nurse in the hospital. She had long, flowing light brown hair, the same bright eyes, perfectly arched eyebrows, stunning smile, high cheekbones and that unforgettable heavenly look. Without any doubt, I knew it was her—it was my breast cancer nurse. Better yet, my messenger—my breast cancer angel. I held her close to my heart and whispered, “Thank you.” I bought her, but not for myself. Since I’m now considered cancer-free, I bought her for someone who needed her much more than I did. And like Sister Maria, now I too will always believe that there are angels in our midst.

~Francine L. Baldwin-Billingslea

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