As a child he was, and still is, an amiable type of person. Easy-going and always with a smile on his face. Willing to help others when possible. As a teenager, a lover of sports. Himself a great football player and wrestler. In fact, it was while he was still in high school that we found out he had cancer.
He noticed a lump in his nether regions and told me about it. It was checked and within weeks of his finding the lump, it was removed by a cancer specialist, Along with one testicle and his lymph nodes.
He went through a living hell of pain, sickness, nausea and had to endure a lot of suffering but he pulled through. We thanked God that the cancer was in remission. We were told that after seven (7) years of good health and no cancer returning, he was therefore cured. Eight (8) years later, there is was again. But this time on the other testicle. And this time around was worse than the first time.
The chemo alone almost killed him. The chemo procedure would kill the tumour, Which had then grown to the size of a grapefruit, and once diminished in size it would grow back within weeks. It got to be more painful until he cried and wanted to just die. After a while even the morphine wasn’t helping him with the pain. He went from being a strapping big boned person to a thin, circles under the eyes, withdrawn human being.
But I believed no one should ever just give up. Just because the word cancer is stated doesn’t mean the end of life. One must fight to be alive, no matter the health situation and giving up was not an option. And I guess through it all, I guess I put this positive thought into my son and he believed me that through faith and positive thought he then endured more chemo procedures, dialysis and two (2) bone marrow transplants. He was then told that he’d have to be on dialysis for the rest of his life.
One particular day when he was in the hospital for several weeks of treatments, I had an overwhelming urge to drive down to Chicago, Illinois where he was at. I live five (5) hours away in Wisconsin and would generally visit him on the weekends and spend the nights on a cot beside his hospital bed. But that day the compulsion was so strong that I felt the urge to go then and there to surprise him with an early visit. So I packed quickly and I left. I deep down just knew I had to be there, so I drove the long distance feeling an urgency I could’t explain nor understand, but I accepted it anyway.
Once I arrived at the hospital I had to put on the usual gear of mask, gloves, booties over my shoes, as well as a hospital gown and cap as he was in the isolation ward. As I entered his room I gasped. What I saw made the blood rush to my face due to the fact a pool of blood was already on the floor beneath his bed. It was almost the size of the bed itself and it was spreading. I panicked as a rang for the nurse because I thought he was dead. I know I wasn’t supposed to touch him but I did anyway. I shook his shoulder and pleaded with him to “please……wake up!!” After a few moment his eyes slowly opened and he weakly said “Mom, you’re here. I was just dreaming about you.” I held his hand as the nurse rushed in, saw all the blood and rang for help. The emergency doctor came and together they tried to stop the flow of my sons blood as it erupted out of the tube that was coming out from high on the right side of his chest and neck area.
His blood was so thin from the chemo that it wouldn’t clot, hence the leakage from the tube projecting out of his body. I could see the urgency in the eyes of both the doctor and the nurse. I held onto my son’s left hand, squeezed and started to pray ‘The Hail Mary’ out loud. He joined in with me as we prayed and prayed and prayed. I could see the doctor starting to panic himself because all the gauze and adjusting of the tube wasn’t stopping the lifesblood from dripping speedily out on my sons body and making an even larger puddle of red on the floor.
My son’s voice got weaker and lower as I continued to squeeze his hand even tighter. I prayed even louder and told him “Don’t give up, don’t give in”. He squeezed my hand back and I could feel the strength in that squeeze getting stronger and stronger as we prayed. We had to have prayed to the Holy Mother Mary at least a thousand times or more during those moments of total stress. I glanced up across at the other side of the bed where the doctor and nurse were working and saw the doctor give a surprised look to the nurse and saying “Oh my god, it’s clotting……it’s clotting!!” I knew then that my son would make it.
Would you believe that after that holy accident my son was eventually taken off of dialysis because his kidneys were working on their own? His hair grew back a light brown and curly whereas before the bone marrow transplant his hair was blond and straight. We assumed the donors transplant had to have passed along with his bone marrow the curly gene also. After several months his hair again grew straight and blond as before. His appetite improved. He was able to keep food and liquids down. And he gained weight.
Our prayers were indeed answered that that fateful day. I thank God and his mother, Mary every day for my son’s life. As I age, my son is the one now, holding my hand, in a sense, as he cares for me and does for me as he wouldn’t have been able to do it if he had died that day those years ago. I often wonder why I had had such a strong compelling urge to be with him that afternoon of enlightenment. Was God or my son’s guardian angel pushing me to hurry up and go be with my son to save him that day? Because if I wouldn’t have arrived in his room at that precise moment, I am sure, in fact I just know, that my son would have perished.
May God have mercy on my son’s soul and on mine and all our loved ones. And me He will always be with us, as well as, His saintly mother, throughout eternity…………AMEN.
As told to SJB by Judith Hurta.