Gratitude still felt one year later

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 20, 2003

By Harold Keller-Get High on Life

Last August, my granddaughter, Elise, after complaining of stomach pains for over a week, was admitted to East Jefferson Hospital. After many tests, it was necessary to operate on Elise. Dr. Gachassin performed the operation on a Sunday night.

The results of the surgery showed that Elise had cancer. She was then sent to Children’s Hospital and underwent treatment, which consisted of chemotherapy. That was exactly one year ago.

Her mother, Ronny (my daughter), was completely healed of acute leukemia 10 years ago. She now teaches school and last Thursday, after the first day of school, she received a phone call and describes it as follows:

“I wasn’t home long before the phone rang and the voice on the other end asked for Mrs. Michel. As I was thinking of a polite way to shorten what I thought was a courtesy call, I realized that I was speaking to the doctor who, exactly one year ago today, informed me that the tumor that he had removed from Elise’s intestines was cancerous.

I sank into a recliner and assured him that all was now well with Elise. I went on to tell him that we think of him often as we tell her story, for his determination to discover the root for her pain greatly impressed our family. He spoke. I cried. And once again, I was overwhelmed by his kindness.

Thoughts of ‘one year ago’ have occupied my mind for this past week and I don’t mind them, for they remind me that I have so much for which to be grateful. Elise is out of pain. Elise is healthy. And Elise laughs again – not just the polite chuckle that she produced to reassure us that she was OK, but she really laughs. She’s really happy. She’s really OK.

As we spoke yesterday of ‘one year ago,’ I told Elise that although her scars are quickly fading, I won’t be disappointed if they never completely disappear. I think that it would be fine if she bears a visible reminder of the kindness and diligence of her doctors, the tremendous support of her friends, and the faithfulness of her God. Don’t worry about the scar. Elise can handle it. She has handled a lot more than that with grace that defies her 11 years of life.”

I’m grateful for all the people, family and friends, who prayed and supported us during the past year. I’m especially thankful for Dr. Gachassin who, a year ago, professionally assisted Elise with his medical talent, but last week touched our hearts with his concern and compassionate phone call.

HAROLD KELLER writes this column as part of his affiliation with the Get High on Life religious motivational organization. Call 652-8477 or write to P.O. Drawer U, Reserve, LA 70084.