Photo by Guillaume de Germain on Unsplash

Counting every blessing that God bestows

By  Angela Saldanha
  • May 25, 2022

In mid-December, my doctor confirmed I had cancer. I was told I’d require surgery. Major surgery! ASAP! Not the sort of thing one wants to hear just before Christmas. Not with a pandemic raging. In the weeks that followed I underwent umpteen tests to determine how and when the Beast would be tackled. 

All the time spent sitting around in hospital, waiting for tests, and all the time post-surgery, resting and recovering, gave me abundant time for thinking. And mostly, my thoughts were not about the Beast, but about the Blessings. 

Forty-two years ago, I’d received a diagnosis of serious cancer, and undergone major surgery. By the grace of God I’d bounced right back to life and lived over four decades happily free of the Beast.  And that, I might add, with no chemo, no radiotherapy, no medication. Nothing but prayers and positive thinking — as I made a point of informing all the doctors. That in itself was an enormous blessing.

And I thought about my mother.  In her 40s, she’d been diagnosed with the same cancer that I had.  She’d undergone the same surgery.  But she, and many others like her in a similar condition, lived only a short while, with the Beast being ever more invasive. 

Pondering my own situation,  I concluded God had granted me life for a reason (He always has His reasons). In appreciation of the blessing of recovering health and abundant energy, I began volunteering, and over the course of decades got involved with a variety of interesting causes. Whatever I volunteered at, I always felt I was the one being blessed. COVID gave pause to that, but I refused to give up hope things would be normal enough that I can get back to volunteering. 

After two years of pandemic, hospitals were stretched almost to the limit. Longer than ever waits for physiotherapy. Many tests and procedures being postponed, if not cancelled outright. Even urgent surgeries being delayed. But I felt decidedly blessed in that everything moved along much faster than I expected. In-person doctor visits were arranged, various tests were performed, with such speed I was often taken by surprise.

Moral support was there in large doses. Starting with Desmond, my spouse of nearly 60 years, ever present with love and comfort. The kids, too far away to be of practical help, phoned and Skyped almost daily. Other family members were in frequent contact, promising prayers, Masses and  (at my insistence!) positive thinking!   Neighbours were in constant touch, alongside me in my journey towards healing, my fight with the Beast. These daily assurances from so many people were, still are, a great blessing to me. And to my poor, worried spouse.

Practical help was there, too.  A couple of hours after I’d woken up, groggily post-op, one of the neighbours arrived with Desmond to retrieve me from hospital, knowing, on that snowy day, I’d need an extra strong arm to help get me safely out the car, up the steps into the house.  That done, he vanished, reappearing five minutes later with a tray his wife had been busy preparing. About a week’s worth of sandwiches, sausages, snacks, fruit, cheese, banana cake. Mmm! Chocolate with exotic flavours. (Pity it was Lent….) 

It’s amazing how many different shapes and sizes that blessings come in — good neighbours being one of the greatest blessings.  Another one came, the day after surgery,  bringing supper.  A superb dish of sizzling, succulent salmon.  Other neighbours phoned with offers of help. Family sent bouquets of beautiful blooms.  And  “For Top Aunt,” a hamper of gourmet goodies.   

Thanks to these many blessings, I’m rapidly recovering. To an inquiry about pain, I replied it really wasn’t a problem.

“That’s because you’re a woman” the nurse said. “Why d’you think God made women to have the babies?”

In the months since the Beast appeared, I think it’s been vanquished.  What the oncologist will think remains to be seen. What lies ahead, I know not. Mindful of Jesus’ words “Do not worry about tomorrow; the troubles of the day are sufficient,” I will not worry. 

I’ll bide my time. I’ll count my blessings while I wait.

(Saldanha is a writer who lives in Ramara, Ont.)

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