The fear, the breathless anxiety I was so used to was totally absent. I saw the solid substance of peace in her eyes as she smiled at me.
I sat at the nurse’s station reviewing my first patient of the day. I flipped through her chart as the techs prepared her for the procedure. Nothing special. She was a 56 year old lady from Bradenton, Florida, who had a coin-sized mass seen in one of her lungs on a routine chest x-ray. Using computed tomography I had been requested by her referring physician to get a piece of tissue from the nodule to be examined under a microscope, by the pathologist to determine histologically if the growth was benign or malignant. Having reviewed her history and her routine chest films, I walked into the procedure room to introduce myself, explain the procedure and answer any questions she might have.
I found a pleasant 56 year old female, who seemed quite calm and answered all my questions with a calmness not ordinarily seen in these situations.
Most people have a deadly fear of cancer and death and both anxiety and barely suppressed fear are usually the norm. I explained what I was about to do and that the tissue sample would confirm or exclude malignancy. I explained how I would numb the skin over her chest and then using CT imaging for placement, I would attempt to insert a cutting needle in the middle of the soft tissue mass in her lung and obtain a core of tissue for the pathologist to examine. She listened carefully as I went on to describe all the possible complications associated with the procedure. She smiled and nodded her assent, asked no questions and signed the consent form with the same degree of concern as if signing a letter to her best friend.
She saw the look of slight puzzlement on my face. She went on to explain to me that regardless of what I found she had no fear, that she had peace in her heart regardless of the outcome.
I confess I was interested in her state of mind and this apparently indomitable confidence she possessed, I went on to ask her what gave her such a peaceful attitude. These things were always of interest to me. She was prepped, draped and ready. She asked, "Doctor do you believe in God?" I answered in the affirmative. She looked up at me again. "I believe that the God who sent his only Son to redeem the world has redeemed my life and I am content to be in His hands. I know what my future holds regardless of what you find."
This was real Faith in action; a fearless Faith. If she feared death, she did not show it. If she saw death, it was only a transition for her, because she could see life outside the confines of this existence and beyond into the future, into glory. "My life is in the hands of one I trust with all my heart and I will not cease trusting now, no matter what the outcome. So do what you must do and don't be nervous." I saw the calmness in her eyes and the depth of Faith in her demeanor.
The fear, the breathless anxiety I was so used to was totally absent. I saw the solid substance of peace in her eyes as she smiled at me. I vaguely wondered if I would possess the depth and strength of her Faith when my turn came. But then, here she was, an example, an inspiration. She had paradoxically, not only put the doctor at ease, but showed him the reality of Faith. No platitudes or emotions, only simple genuine reality.
John T. Spencer,
a recently retired physician, after almost 40 years of practicing Medicine.
John is one of the Editors of Wtness.org.