Never ignore a person who loves you, cares for you, and misses you. Because one day you might wake up from your sleep and realize that you lost the moon while counting the stars.~Unknown

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Nurse Joe

When my daughter Katie first set up my blog it was for the purpose of keeping family and friends updated on the events taking place as I battled cancer.  It was her way of loving me..and providing a catalyst through which those who loved me could continue to do so as they were updated on my progress.  That love came pouring in the form of tender mercies, prayers, encouragement and on the most personal of levels, through answers to my most fervent prayers.

Throughout my blog, I have shared some of the intimate prayers I have offered that oft-times originated from a heart broken by the disappointments in life.  As I have blogged, I have done so with the purpose of this being a personal record of the miracles which presented themselves in such a way that I could not deny that they were from a loving Father in heaven who used cancer as a catalyst to share His love with me.  Nurse Joe is one of those evidences.  Because these experiences were of a more personal nature, I have avoided including him in my story.  The reality is, Nurse Joe was an integral part of the healing that cancer brought into my life.  In the years to come and as I reflect on the content included in this blog, I want him to be a part of my story.

I remember those early months following my mastectomy and during the onslaught of the side effects of chemo.  Each day as I got out of the shower, the image that met me was overwhelming.  My femininity as viewed by others was gone.  I had no breasts, no hair, no eyebrows and my body had taken on the distorted image of the chemicals that were destroying my cells.  It was difficult to get dressed in the usual outfits I adorned to 'look the part' of a woman who seemingly had it all together.  It was during those early months that I was forced to come face to face with who I was...not on the outside that I allowed others to see but on the heart, my soul and the essence of who I was as a woman.  Those were vulnerable days on a very personal level..

Joe was my chemo nurse and from the very first treatment, I had an overwhelming sense that he was going to be a part of my life.  As I would later find out, Because he was single, my girls immediately latched on to the possibility that cancer was going to be the catalyst by which I found the love of my life.  According to them (I was drugged and out of it), the casual flirting began.  In the treatments that followed "flirting with Nurse Joe" became the highlight of everyone who came with me to treatment...including my own.  Joe was very concientious and professional but the element of friendship was present in all of our interactions.  My daughters loved him and they did everything they could to promote a friendship.  He made the experience bearable for them and as a result, the sadness of my cancer eluded them as they sat with me during each treatment.  As I would hold my shirt down for him to access my port, I would always teasingly say "Be careful...I don't want you to flash me."  I beleived that I was just being funny until one treatment, he looked at me with the kindest expression and said "Cyndi, that doesn't matter" as if he sensed how deeply my losses were hurting me. 

On the day of my last treatment, the girls teasingly asked Nurse Joe if he wanted to tend me on Saturday; a practice that occurrred the first 3 days following chemo.  With laughter in his voice, he declined but said that he would call and check up on me.  As we went to leave and to the total embarassment of my family, I got brave and gave him my phone number, doubting I would ever hear from him.  I will be honest and say that I did go to sleep that night with a smile on my face anticipating that maybe, just maybe he would call the next morning. First thing the next morning, I got a call from Joe checking to see how I was.  And so our friendship began.

Without going into all the cheesy details, it wasn't long before we were dating and spending time together.  What a sweet man who, true to his earlier words to me, wasn't detered by the deficits I easily judged myself by.  On numerous, tender occasions, he would remind me that those things "didn't matter."  He was loving, tender, and kind; not to mention romantic, affectionate and passionate about life.  It was through those qualities that he taught me that irrespective of my health and condition of my body, I was lovable, attractive and that who I was overshadowed everything else.  I came to love Nurse Joe on so many different levels.  In a few short months, he unraveled the insecurities left, not only by my cancer, but by previous relationships.  As a result, I learned to see myself through different eyes and found peace in myself as a woman...something I don't think I have ever really felt. 

Nurse Joe holds a place in my heart that will always be tender and warm because of the lessons of the heart I learned through his treatment of me and my children.  I will always be grateful for this sweet man who has a unique and gentle heart.  He brought comfort and laughter to my children during a difficult time and taught me of my worth as a woman.  Truly, he is and will always be a friend of the heart and further evidence that my Heavenly Father knows my heart and answers my prayers.  For that, gratitude encompasses my life. 

Gratitude and love always....Cyndi