What is the most difficult life event anyone might recall? For me, it was probably seeing someone in my own family facing death. My sister Emily was diagnosed with Lymphoma in 1989. At that time, I was still working in the Air Force as a Manpower Officer of two training schools. One evening, I received a call from my brother-in-law informing me that my older sister had to undergo open heart surgery. She needed people to go to the blood bank to donate blood.
I was shocked at the news! My sister had been healthy as far as I knew. She had 2 daughters; one was thirteen years old and another just 3 years old. I was glad that, with my work and social connections, my colleagues who were strong national servicemen quickly volunteered to go to the blood bank to donate their blood. The cancer growth which was found in the lymph nodes near to her heart area were removed. After the open heart surgery, she had to undergo an abortion as she was pregnant with another child. The doctor told her she had to undergo chemotherapy right after, and the baby would not be able to survive the chemotherapy without any harm. Chemotherapy was needed to kill the remaining cancer cells in her body.
She must have been heart-broken at that time. However, she kept a brave front and was determined to beat the cancer cells! She went through several cycles of chemotherapy till all her veins collapsed. I visited her once and saw that the doctor had to use the leg veins as a final resort. Throughout the whole ordeal, she endured the treatment. Her recovery was a miracle as she turned to God for help at a time when medicine could only do so much.
Perhaps, it was this witnessing of her suffering that made me return to medical social work after my 6-year contract with the Air Force. Up till now I have avoided talking about the incident with my sister. Each year as I celebrate her birthday in July, I am so glad she has proven to me that God has been gracious in preserving her life for a purpose. It has been 28 years since the day of her diagnosis. I can only give thanks to God for such a miracle. Hence, one should treasure each day with our loved ones while they are around and with us!