No More Fear

No More Fear

From Chicken Soup for the Breast Cancer Survivor's Soul

No More Fear

It is the knowledge of the genuine conditions of our lives that we must draw our strength to live and our reasons for living.

Simone de Beauvoir

I’ve always been terrified of needles. I am one of those people who faint at the sight of blood. All my life, every time I had a shot or had blood drawn, I passed out in the doctor’s office—even when I went for my blood test to get married. So I was really worried about all the needles I would have to face during surgery and chemotherapy.

My sister Barbara and my husband, Don, came with me to surgery. I had scheduled my same-day lumpectomy for the first thing in the morning. I felt that if I was early, there would be fewer chances of being pushed back by emergencies and delays, and I would get to go home rather than spend the night in the hospital.

All three of us were very nervous. It was 5:30 A.M., and we hadn’t eaten anything—me because I wasn’t supposed to, they because there hadn’t been time. We arrived at the reception area, courageous but sleepy.

The nurses took me in, and Barbara and Don were allowed to accompany me. I was settled into a small cubicle surrounded by medical equipment. A nurse came in to prepare me for the IV. I tried not to look at the long tube attached to the needle that she was preparing to insert in my arm.

Suddenly, Barbara said, “What about the numbing cream? I’ve heard you can put on something to make the area numb.”

The nurse looked at her with surprise.

“Oh, we only give that to babies,” she said.

“I’m a baby,” I responded.

We all laughed a little, but she could see I was serious.

“Oh, all right. I’ll be right back.”

She returned a few minutes later and applied a white cream to my hand. She placed a clear tape bandage over it.

“It takes a few minutes to go to work. I’ll be back.”

I shot a triumphant look at my sister and Don.

“Thanks,” I breathed a sigh of relief.

We three chatted for about ten minutes, talking about anything except the needles and my surgery. It really helped to have them there with me. I wasn’t nervous now, and I felt completely loved and supported.

The nurse returned and inserted the IV into the large vein in the back of my hand. Thanks to the cream, I felt nothing. Absolutely nothing. A smile of shock and amazement lit up my face.

“How is that?” she asked.

“Fine, I can’t even feel it. Thank you. Thank you so much!”

She smiled, “You know, that was a good idea. I don’t know why we don’t use it more often.” I couldn’t stop myself: I jumped up and gave her a hug.

“You will never know how much this meant to me. “ I said.

She smiled, then stepped aside as the anesthesiologist came in, asked me if I was allergic to anything and hooked me up to the IV drip. Again, I didn’t feel a thing. I smiled and waved to the angel nurse, my sister and my husband. I was wheeled away to the surgery room. My last thought was how loved I am, how kind the nurse was, and total amazement that I felt no fear.

I entered the Land of Needles with no fear. That is a miracle!

Mary Olsen Kelly

More stories from our partners