101. Heaven Can Wait

101. Heaven Can Wait

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miracles Happen

Heaven Can Wait

The feeling remains that God is on the journey, too.

~Teresa of Avila

I am a forty-six-year-old mom with young kids. Due to my family history, I proactively got annual mammograms. My mammogram results in January of 2013 showed I was healthy, with no abnormalities. However, there was a voice inside me that was unsettled, telling me to look closer.

I went to see my doctor and he reassuringly said, “Sit back, let me take a look.” Then I heard him say, “What’s this?”

A mere three weeks after my original mammogram, six tumors were found between my two breasts by ultrasound and MRI. The mammogram did not show a single tumor because I happen to have dense breast tissue. Yes, I was scared. But also enraged to learn that, in women with dense breast tissue, a mammogram will miss 40 percent of potentially cancerous growths. Within two weeks, I underwent a double mastectomy where it was found that the cancer had in fact spread to my lymph nodes. Chemotherapy treatments were to follow along with the sad reality of hair loss, mouth sores and severe bone pain.

Even when I felt my worst, I always felt in God’s favor. I felt that my toil was His toil. I believe that God shows himself to us every single day of our lives. He speaks through friends and family, nature, strangers and mysteries unexplained. There is just one secret—you must be open to hear and see His messages, truly open in your heart of hearts.

I have always had a strong faith but I experienced astonishing events that felt like a frying pan to the head, with the message: “I am here. You are not alone.”

During chemotherapy and feeling my worst, I would force myself to walk to the corner of my street. One day, I found a little hummingbird on the sidewalk. She was very small and the same color as the pavement—I could have easily missed her. But she just lay there, looking up at me. We named her Lucky. She never left my side or flew away—even outside in the yard. When I kissed her, she would stick her beak up my nose. When she flew around the kitchen, she always landed right on my shoulder. I would wake up a couple times a night to feed her the sugar water she loved. One night, I woke up worrying about her. I went over to her and noticed she looked terrible. I held her in my hand as she looked up at me and then she just fell on her side. She died there in my hand. I believe that Lucky was sent to me from Heaven to help me through the worst and to remind me that I am never, ever alone.

In the weeks after my diagnosis I prayed to the Catholic saint Padre Pio, as he was a beloved saint of my mother whom I had lost to breast cancer when I was young. The day after my mastectomy, I asked the nurse to send the hospital’s priest to my room so that we could pray. When the priest arrived, he introduced himself, looked at me and said, “Padre Pio.” Then he said, “I don’t know why I just said that.” I told him that I had been praying to Padre Pio and he told me, “This is an external message that your prayers have been heard.”

I had another little miracle during chemotherapy. I was scheduled to get what little hair I had left shaved off. I woke that morning feeling low. I took a couple of photos for posterity and was shocked to see that the hair on the back of my head had fallen out in the shape of a heart—truly.

My journey inspired me to create a necklace bearing the words “Heaven Can Wait” because of the many magical blessings that had been bestowed upon me while ill. For me, the loveliest part of my necklace is that the first chord it hits is humor, which is so meaningful because there is joy in humor, and my story is about the journey of survival. Beyond my necklace, I will work diligently to raise awareness on the limitations of mammograms for women with dense breast tissue. A portion of all sales will go to this effort.

~Christine Miller

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