All dates in 2000


Mary goes to primary-care physician because of coughing, difficulty breathing, and other asthma-type symptoms. The diagnosis is a temporary asthma and she's given inhalers which seem to help - temporarily.


Not getting much better (and maybe worse), Mary returns to doctor and he adds two more inhalers.


Now significantly worse, Mary returns to the doctor and he calls for a chest x-ray and bumps up the dosage. Mary goes straight to x-ray lab. After x-ray, tech says to wait while doctor is called.

Mary talks to doctor on phone and is told something was found on the x-ray and they want blood tests done. She walks next door to get "poked".

Hmmm - could this be pneumonia?


[morning] Doctor's office calls and tells Mary of a mass in her chest cavity and that a CT scan should be done - that afternoon.

[afternoon] During CT scan, technician is very "sensitive". This, understandably, makes Mary nervous. Technician calls in report to doctor and Mary is given films to bring to doctor's office.

Appointment is made for first thing the following morning after call from doctor.


[morning] Doug and Mary hear from doctor that there is a large (14cm across) mass in her upper chest which appears to be causing the coughing, etc. He selects Dr. Bogerty, a thoracic surgeon, for Mary to consult with. An appointment has already been made for 1:00 that afternoon (hope you can make it!). We do.

All kinds of things go through our minds - lung cancer is a guess.

[Afternoon] Dr. Bogerty informs us that this tumor is pressing on the trachea and is around one of her main arteries. She recommends a biopsy to determine exactly what it is and therefore the treatment. Two possible solutions are mentioned: Surgical removal or chemotherapy. An outpatient surgery slot has already been reserved: Monday morning, 7:30. See you then!


Mary, Doug, and their friends, the Atnip's go on already planned trip to San Francisco. Mary walks to Coit Tower, down to Levi Plaza, around to Fisherman's Wharf and to the cable-car line. Experiences little trouble while outside, but coughs a bit once back indoors.


Report to hospital about 6:00am - expect to return home by noon. Mary is prepped for surgery. While talking to anesthesiologist, Mary expresses concern that she doesn't want to wake up on her back because she hasn't been able to lay like that without serious coughing (the CT scan was very difficult). Please put her on her right side. Noted.

Surgery goes as planned, but they keep her in recovery an extraordinary amount of time. In the meantime, doctor informs Doug that surgery went well and they are rushing the analysis of the biopsy. Mentions that they'd like Mary to spend the night because . . . [showing Doug pictures] . . . one side of her trachea is all but closed and the other is teardrop shaped. It's a wonder she can breathe. They'll keep her in the Critical Care unit.

While waiting on Mary to get moved from recovery to ICU (where he can see her), Doug gets a little impatient (2+ hours in recovery is pushing it) and inquires about Mary's status. She's still in recovery, but since it's not too busy Doug is allowed in to visit. She's doing fine, putting Doug's mind at ease and stomach in full-gear. Lunch time.

That afternoon, the oncologist, Dr. Rubenstein, comes with the early prognosis: Lymphoma or thymoma. They'll know for sure in the morning. They also know: It's not operable. It's wrapped around (but not involved with) the trachea, a main artery, and various other "important" parts. We're definitely in for chemotherapy.

Bone-marrow is extracted for testing and a CT scan is scheduled to determine extent of infection.

Mary has super-peace from God and is quite the trooper through the whole thing. She is a real encouragement to nurses and doctor's alike - let alone, her husband!


Oncologist comes by in the morning and gives the report: Lymphoma, appears to be isolated to mediastinal area (upper chest). CT scan will confirm. No infection in bone marrow. Chemo starts that afternoon.

Anesthesiologist stops by to say "Hi". Asks if we've heard the "surgery story". Nope. Oh well, and he changes the subject. Mary presses him and he spills the beans: As they were finishing up the sutures he takes her off the ventilator. She immediately starts choking and gagging and stops breathing. The blockage is too far down the trachea to use a standard tube. Oxygen won't help if her muscles have tightened up the area. After all heart rates in the room have maxed out, he remembers Mary's comment about not being able to breathe on her back and only on her right side. Once they roll her to the side, she begins breathing immediately and the sutures are completed sideways.

[Think God's involved here?]

This explains the long time in the recovery room, the overnight stay in ICU, the concern from the nurses, etc. Amazing how God can use these things.

Chemo is begun with much nervous anticipation, but is quite anticlimactic. Mary has a good night's sleep.


Mary asks Oncologist if this is what she can expect with subsequent treatments or will it get worse with each one. Good news: You'll probably react the same way each time. Bad news: The worst days are usually the 5th-7th. Bummer.

That afternoon, Mary has CT scan (and has to drink the most bitter concoction known to man - 8 small cups of it! Gets about 3 and-a-half down. Tech says no problem.).

Evening is interesting with Mary getting a full buzz from the Prednisone, then a relatively quick drop-off of energy. Has a slightly restless night's sleep, but not too bad.


Oncologist reports no additional tumor sites from the CT scan. Prednisone takes over again and Mary's ecstatic. She also gets to go home and see the kids she left behind! Suppose that could be part of the energy rush as well.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ. But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer and our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also you are sharers of our comfort. - 2 Corinthians 1:3-7

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