A Breast Reconstruction Story

Today a little thought comes to mind about questions to God.

All people have different beliefs, some believe in the existence of God and are very strong in their beliefs, and then there are others who do not believe in God. Those who do believe in God still come across many situations in life when they have questions, and the biggest question I have seen people ask themselves, “Why me?”

It especially happens when people are in distress, either financial stress or physiological or physical stress. I’ve come across this question many times in my practice, but this one girl from the Ukraine stands out quite a bit. In my first meeting with her she came to the office and said, “I have breast cancer and they have decided to remove one of my breasts.”

She was talking in sort of a robotic fashion without any emotion, but once we continued our conversation, she opened up and then all of a sudden it was like the flood gates opened and tears started rolling from her eyes.

I did explain to her the procedure and how the reconstruction was going to be done, and she sort of nodded her head and asked a few questions, but not many. Most of the questions regarding the procedure were asked by her husband who was quite involved, which was a very good sign.

So I did the reconstruction and everything went very well, and in my opinion was a very nice reconstruction she had. But she still was very quiet and always sad, and I never saw a smile on her face. So one day I asked her, “You know, I’ve been taking care of you for so many months, and I feel that there is something that seems to be bothering you. Do you mind if I ask if there is something I can help you with?”

And the response I got from her was that she came from a very poor family in the Ukraine. She said, “I’ve always been a very good girl, I’ve always listened to my parents. I did what they told me. There were days that we only had one pair of clothes, and when those clothes would be washed we would be sitting naked in our beds waiting for those clothes to dry up.”

So days went by and they had a very tough economic hardship, and she said she held herself to very high ethical standards, there were days when they didn’t have food to eat and life in general was very tough for them.

And then, she said, she met this wonderful person who was visiting the Ukraine, an American person, and they fell in love and she got married. When she got to America she said, “Oh, all my hardships have been answered.” Her life was changed drastically. She was happily married; she had a home and a car, then she had a daughter and she thought that life had finally changed. And then a few years later she was struck with the diagnosis of breast cancer. And she said, “I can’t resist myself. Every night I’m up pacing the floor and asking God, what did I do wrong? Why me? What did I do to deserve this?”

I generally like to spend time with my patients and this was one patient that sometimes I had to spend a considerable amount of time with to console her, and I knew that maybe nobody would be able to answer her questions. She said she had been to the churches; she had talked to religious people and just couldn’t get a satisfactory answer. So I told her “From my experience, I think that one of these days you will find the answer and it will come from within. You will find a good purpose.”

A few months later when I saw her for a check-up after all the reconstruction was completed, that particular day I saw a smile on her face and she said, “You know Doctor, you were right. I have found the answers to the questions that nobody was able to help me with. Now I am satisfied and ready to go on and move on with life. I am helping other women who have breast cancer.”

So I was quite thrilled, and happy to see her smile again.