By Del Starr, a pseudonym, all rights reserved, posted Nov 4, 2015
[Editor’s Note: This is a factual memoir written by the woman to whom it happened. She chose the pseudonym and before she died, entrusted her manuscript to a pastor, asking that it be published. The only things that are happening to it are proofreading and slight edits for clarity. DLK]
My Heavenly Father Watches Over Me
Daily now, Dianne logged on to her new family at the Seventh-day Adventist internet forum. She enjoyed the interaction. Only one thing disturbed her. There was so much dependence upon their own good works for salvation. Dianne had come to realize that she would never have good works and that anything that she ever did that was good, would be by the grace of God. She knew that salvation was a gift and she was enjoying her growth in Christ Jesus.
She began to speak of salvation by grace through faith. She was the only one doing so at the time and it took courage to stand against the many who opposed her.
One day she received a personal e-mail from the administrator of that forum. It read, “You need to tone it down. I know what you are talking about but they don’t and you are confusing the other people on this forum.”
Dianne complied for at least a week but her faith in Jesus and the resultant joy could not be contained. Soon she was again speaking loudly about the grace of God.
A female poster sent a private e-mail, “What are you trying to say?” it read, “You keep getting louder and louder but I can’t figure out what it is you are saying.”
Dianne shared with her the simple gospel, telling her that it was her faith in Jesus Christ that saved her, not her own right actions. She told her that righteousness is apart from the law and not according to the law.
A reply came quickly, “Can these things be true?”
Dianne assured her that indeed it is true and supplied Bible Scripture to reinforce her appeal. Another reply came, this this time stating that the poster was touched and crying. Dianne’s heart was gladdened. She felt that her lifelong dream was being accomplished. She had so longed to share Christianity with someone. She remembered how, at twelve years old, she had been sharing the Sabbath with her boyfriend. Now she realized that the Sabbath was not the message of salvation but that Jesus is the message.
Many times, in the ensuing months, Dianne would be approached by e-mail and she would have the opportunity to share once more the gospel as it is in Christ Jesus. Dianne had found a home.
She was becoming stronger daily and was able to do little things here and there. She rejoiced in the strength that Jesus was providing for her but most of all she was thankful for her cyber church family.
Over a year had passed since that day in May when Dianne had suffered her first Sudden Death Episode. She began to experience internal pain. Summer was drawing on and the motel was busy once more. Dianne decided she needed to visit the doctor. After her initial appointment with the local doctor, an appointment was made in Missoula for an outpatient procedure. She would only be in the hospital for a few brief hours. This should remedy the source of her pain. And so it did. It had taken more than a month to get this far but Dianne was feeling much better now.
Peter and Dianne were expecting friends from Nebraska to arrive in August. They would take a few days of their vacation to visit with them. It had been nearly two years since Dianne and Peter had seen them and they anticipated a great visit.
The local doctor called Dianne one afternoon. “I want you to come to my office immediately,” she said, “and bring your husband with you.”
Dianne knew that the news was not good. She called Peter, who came to pick her up, and they entered the doctor’s office.
“Dianne,” the doctor began, “when you were in Missoula for the procedure, they did some other tests. I had been afraid, when I saw you, that there might be more problems and it has been confirmed. I’m so sorry. You have cancer and treatment must be arranged immediately.”
Dianne’s heart sank. First the heart and now this. Cancer had claimed so many lives and she wondered why it was that she had been rescued from the jaws of death to now have to deal with cancer.
A first appointment was made in Missoula where it was determined that Dianne would be analyzed for treatment in Seattle. The situation was hard on Peter. It seemed as if it would never end.
Their friends arrived from Nebraska and the two couples enjoyed each other’s company. They toured the lake and went boating, they dined together, and just had a general good time. When it was time for them to leave, Peter and Dianne were sorry to see them go. This would be Dianne’s last time to get out and enjoy life with others.
Now Peter and Dianne headed for Seattle.
It was determined that Dianne would begin treatment on the Monday following Labor Day. She would have both radiation and chemotherapy. Though her faith was firmly in Jesus, this was nearly more than she could bear.
On the way home from Seattle, Peter began to show the stress. He snapped at Dianne, and an argument that lasted for several hours ensued. Dianne asked to just be let out of the vehicle. Peter decided that they needed to stop for the night. They had passed Spokane but they now turned around and went back to get a motel room.
After a good night’s rest, the rest of the trip home was uneventful. The stresses of all the medical situations had just become too much for either one of them to bear.
It was Wednesday. Dianne would begin treatment in less than a week. She dreaded the following Tuesday but she and Peter would have the long weekend first. Perhaps they could spend a little more time together.
Chad drove up to the motel. “Mom,” he asked, “where are you guys going this weekend?”
“No place, honey, why did you ask?” Dianne answered.
“Oh, I thought you were because Peter asked me to take over his job for him while he was gone.”
Dianne’s mind was spinning. What was Peter planning? Later that afternoon she confronted him. “Where are you going, Peter?”
“I thought we’d take a little trip this weekend,” Peter smiled, “to get you away from having to deal with this every moment.”
Dianne was touched when Peter said that he was taking her to Wallowa Lake in Northeastern Oregon. Peter knew how very much Dianne loved the area and this would be his gift to her to remember, no matter what else took place in her life.
Even on this trip Dianne was able to see the hand of the Lord over them, for their vehicle broke down on Monday, Labor Day, 80 miles from any town. They were not only able to limp into the next tiny town but God provided that they were able to contact someone who had keys to the parts store so they could get the parts needed to continue their journey. Her heart was thrilled to know and recognize God’s handiwork.
Tuesday morning found Peter and Dianne in Missoula, ready for her treatment to begin. She would wear a bag with a pump for 96 hours, and five days of the week she would report to Missoula for radiation treatment. Radiation would continue for two weeks, after which she would have a week’s break and then begin again with the chemotherapy for another 96 hours and the radiation daily. The treatment would contain 40 treatments of radiation. It would be a grueling routine for both Peter and Dianne.
Her strength was sapped. She could barely rise from bed in the morning. She was ill and lost weight. She did not lose her hair; the chemotherapy that she received was not the type that caused hair loss. At the same time she began her treatment, a man from her town also began treatment. They could encourage each other.
Dianne became a shadow of her former self as the treatment continued. Radiation “cooked” her insides. It also burned the outsides and now she was suffering from radiation burns. Dianne had never been one to complain at a little pain. It had to be intense before she said anything. She now told the nurses at the cancer center about her burns but they were unconcerned. This was the first time Dianne had mentioned it and it was bound to get worse and besides, Dianne was entering her break again. She would have time to recuperate.
It was planned that after her treatments had finished, she would once more return .to Seattle for examination. She figured out when her treatments would end and notified her son in New Hampshire, whom she had not seen since this had all begun. He planned to fly to Seattle and they had coordinated the time of arrival so that Dianne could spend time with him.
She now was on her break but she could hardly walk, the burns were so bad. She couldn’t stand it anymore and finally went to the local doctor again. Blood tests were taken, and she was given medication and sent home. She was unable to remain at home again and so had moved hack into the motel.
A few hours after she had returned from the doctor, she received another phone call. “Dianne, you are to report to the emergency room at the hospital now. The doctor is waiting for you there.”
How could she get through this? She didn’t want to go back to the hospital. She didn’t want to leave her bed. She was so sick. Wearily she climbed into the car to return to the hospital. Once there, she learned that she had developed blood poisoning and would require hospitalization with massive doses of antibiotics. Dianne hated hospitals and doctors now but reluctantly, she was admitted.
Her week’s break from radiation was over. She should be continuing treatment but she remained in the hospital. It dawned on her that this would change her schedule for arrival in Seattle and now she feared that she wouldn’t even be able to see her son. Her break lasted for two weeks before she was able to return to Missoula.
Entering the oncologist’s office after her radiation treatment, she was told, “Dianne, since this has extended farther than we had thought, we’re going to give you another dose of chemotherapy.” The doctor then called a specialist to determine just what mixture to give her. Dianne listened while they talked of this ingredient and that.
“When you come in next week, Dianne, I want you to come here after your radiation treatment and we will hook you up again.”
Dianne nodded but was silent.
On the way home she spoke. “Peter,” she began, “I don’t feel right about this. I just don’t think that what he was saying is right for my body but, Peter, I’m scared. What if I make the wrong decision? I don’t want to defy the doctor but I just don’t think it’s right.”
“Why don’t you just relax, Dianne?” Peter suggested, “Don’t worry about it. We trust in Jesus and we will let Him make the determination for you. When He decides, you will know what is right and you won’t have to worry. Let’s turn it over to Him.”
Dianne gulped. Why had she been worried? It was so easy to try to wrest control from Him and try to do things on her own. “You’re right, Peter,” she said, “I’m going to give it to God and let Him make the decision.”
Right then Dianne offered a prayer. “Dear Jesus, You know that this is a trying time for me. You know that my son is going to be in Seattle and You know how very much I want to see him. Jesus, I don’t feel that what the doctor is planning to do is right for me but I’m going to put it in Your hands and trust that You will make the right determination, and I’m not going to worry about it. Thank You for taking over for me. Amen.”
Peace permeated her heart and she did not worry for the weekend.
Monday morning found her back in Missoula for her radiation treatment. She sat in the waiting room, awaiting her time. The doctor came to the waiting room. “Dianne,” she said, “come with me, please. There’s something we need to talk about.”
As Dianne followed the doctor to her office she said, “Oh great, I’m really anticipating this!”
As she sat at her chair and offered Dianne a seat the doctor said, “I don’t think you’re anticipating this, Dianne. Last night I spoke with the world specialist for your type of cancer. The protocol has been changed and you’re finished.”
Dianne’s mouth dropped open. “What?”
“You’re finished. It has been determined that you don’t need as many treatments, and you’ve already had one more than you need. You’re done.”
“What about my chemotherapy doctor? He told me to come over there when I was finished here.”
“You’re done, Dianne, finished. All of it.”
Tears spilled down Dianne’s face and she could barely be understood as she poured out her story to the doctor: how she had feared the upcoming chemotherapy, how she wanted to tell the doctor “no” but didn’t want to do what was wrong, how she had placed it in God’s hands, how she had been planning to spend time with her son and how that had all been turned around because of her hospitalization.
Smiling, the doctor placed her arm around Dianne’s shoulders. “Let’s see what we can do. You wait in the waiting room and I’ll call Seattle.”
Dianne returned to the waiting room where Peter sat. “Peter,” she began, “You’ll never believe this but………” And the story came gushing out. She finished by saying “It was really silly of me to worry. God had it under control all the time.”
Peter only smiled.
Twenty minutes later the doctor again came to the waiting room. This time she handed Dianne a slip of paper. “Here’s your appointment in Seattle, Dianne. Enjoy your son.” Dianne jumped up and hugged her, “Oh thank you! God has been so good to me today!”