Friday, July 25, 2014

Of M&M’s and platelets


I just read an opinion piece in a recent issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).  It was very well-written by an older doctor who is battling colon cancer.  She proudly proclaimed several times how she has no faith in anything other than hard science and material facts.  After all, she was raised without faith and that’s how she is living her life and apparently how she plans to end her years.  The last paragraph started out, “I’m in a foxhole and I’m still an atheist”.  Well, what’s this got to do with M&M’s, you might ask.  Simply this: she plays a little game with herself from time to time.  She grabs 20 M&M’s and makes sure the mix only has one red M&M.  Throughout the day, she’ll randomly grab one, hoping and hoping that it isn’t the red one.  Apparently, in this scientist’s world, she has been given a 1 in 20 chance of having the cancer come back (for those into percentages, let me grab my calculator and figure it out for you…will get back to you in a moment…5%).

So this scientist without faith in God or a divine plan is relying on a bag of M&M’s for comfort and solace during a terribly trying time in her life, and that makes me very sad.  She clearly understands that there is no connection between the tasty candies (she prefers peanut, by the way) and her cancer outcome.  Equally, if Gabrielle were to play that game, she’d have to toss a few more red M&M’s into the mix as her odds aren’t quite as rosy as only 5% recurrence rate.

But I’ve got a different spin on that same game:  all the M&M’s are green, every last one of them.  That’s because we can all rest easy knowing that there is a God, whether you are in a foxhole or not, or if your parents raised you without faith, or if you are battling cancer.  Gabrielle is right where God wants her to be, and for that she gets a big green light (or M&M to continue in the candy vein).  God is real and He is there, no matter the outcome.  This isn’t a silly crutch that the materialists accuse Christians of having; this is reality.  I am reminded of the words from the Bill Gaither song, “Because He lives, I can face tomorrow.  Because He lives, all fear is gone.”  And to that, I’ll gladly pop green M&M’s all day long, for I know full well that there is a Guiding Hand behind all that Gabrielle is going through, no matter where her path takes her.

So that’s my spin on the M&M game.  As to bringing you an update on Gabrielle’s health, she had some labs yesterday as she was feeling fatigued and winded when going up the long stairs at Richmond Beach Park with Daniel.  Turns out her blood count remains low at 27, but not enough to get a transfusion (historically, this has been when it was around 25).  Her platelets are quite low at 33, a darn sight lower than the normal range of 150-400.  So, whoever was successful in praying those platelets into the normal range last time, have at it again, if you wouldn’t mind (might help to take some green M&M’s into your prayer closet).  Her doctor told her to avoid anything that might involve falling or bleeding—no horseback riding, skydiving, bicycling or even tennis this week.  She even tried to tell me that since her platelets were low, she shouldn’t be chopping vegetables for dinner, even though I have never seen her cut herself in the kitchen, ever!  That’s my department.  Fine.

She is getting a lot of bone pain from the Neulasta shot, but that is starting to subside.  Fortunately, this is an “off week”, so she doesn’t need chemo today.  Instead, she is going to take advantage of her Friday off by looking at slabs of granite with Daniel (toying with new kitchen counters).  I tried to tell her that such an activity is potentially quite dangerous as granite, if it falls on you will almost certainly involve bleeding and perhaps quite a bit of being squished as well.  On the other hand, a kitchen mop is so soft and fluffy and nobody ever bled to death from a mop.  She is not having any of it and will head out soon. 

And that’s my update for today.  One last M&M story and I’ll be done.  When we were first married, Gabrielle gave me a throw pillow that was of a green M&M, so I have always been fond of the green color in particular.  Back in the 1980’s, magical properties were ascribed to the green ones.  So, go find yourself a bag of M&M’s, toss out all but the green ones, and pop a few on Gabrielle’s behalf.  While you’re at it, pop one for that doctor who wrote about her own cancer in JAMA.  There’s hope for her yet.  Have a great weekend. 

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