Please allow me to preface the following by saying: I don’t text, nor tweet, nor blog. I don’t have a Facebook Wall and if I send an email, it is usually a forwarded forward. So as not to seem hypocritical, the following is posted due to the love, beauty and grace of my wonderful bride, Patti.
Patti and I were relaying the day’s adventures on August 30, 2011 when the phone rang. A call from my son Nathan was not uncommon. After his usual obnoxious greeting, he relayed to me that we needed to head to the hospital right away, “Jennifer may have cancer.” Little did I know, that call, would change my life forever. Having to watch my daughter endure a hysterectomy and go through chemo therapy, I felt terror!
I hung up immediately and looked at Patti with a look that only a deer starring down two headlights at 60 miles an hour could appreciate. “What’s wrong?” was her response when she saw the tears in my eyes. I don’t recall my answer. We were in the car instantaneously. After traveling the 6 mile trip to the hospital at speeds that should have alerted any first responder worth their salt, we arrived at the Emergency door.
Even though the waiting room was filled with well-wisher’s, I saw only my daughter, the little girl who wanted me to fix her “booboo.” A kiss and a band aid wasn’t going to fix it this time. I didn’t know, that moment would set into motion, a tear filled month to follow and every moment would be consumed with the emotions of her struggles.
On September 1st, along with Jennifer, Jake and Jen’s sister in-law Kacy, we met with the doctor to hear the results of the CT scan and blood work. The doctor entered the exam room only to break out in tears. “You have a mass on your ovaries,” was all she said. The room went silent. Our worst fears were confirmed. . I felt this couldn’t be happening to her, she is so young and strong. There is no family history. I wanted the doctor to pull it together, thinking, “She doesn’t need to see the doctor in tears.”
After a long pause, we asked about our options.
We decided on surgery with an aggressive attack on the enemy that was living within her. Jennifer named the alien…”Herm.”
September 6th, 2011 was a day that lives in my less than 3 megabits of memory forever. After the three hour trip from Central Oregon to Portland’s Providence Hospital we were directed to the surgical waiting area. We were pleased to see other family, friends and well-wishers, 20 in all, and more to come.
We were ushered alone or in pairs to Jennifer’s Pre-Op room. I was second as I recall but in the moment, does it matter?
Jennifer and I had a spiritual and loving moment prior to her surgery. As I watched the anesthesiologist insert needles and tubes into my daughter’s body all I could do was pray. I hugged and kissed her and was very apprehensive at leaving but knew others wanted to see her. When I left the room I told the nurses to take good care of my little girl.
After the surgery which seemed to take a lifetime, we all awaited the surgeon’s surgical report. “All went according to our surgical plan,” the surgeon stated matter-of-factly. The packed consultation room exhausted a simultaneous breath of relief. I even hugged my ex-wife (Jennifer’s mother) which 20 years ago would have been at best unthinkable.
Since that day, Jennifer has had ups and downs with attitude and how she viewed her treatment. I am proud to say that today we have been successful in moving Jennifer’s treatment from Portland to Bend, removing the tedious 3 hour one way drive weekly for chemo. We have found a wonderful local oncologist willing to take her case.
Jennifer is currently in her second round of chemo which will probably last through February 2012.
I continually pray for my firstborn every day, all day, but have turned her over to the Great Healer, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Today I see Jennifer as a beautiful, strong and courageous, entrepreneur determined to fight the evil within. I am extremely proud of the woman she has become. God has blessed her in so many ways. We will beat this!
What I have always told my children is, “If you only have one true friend in life you are truly blessed.” Jennifer is blessed beyond measure. Thank you to Niki, Brandy, Cheryl, Elaine, and many, many more. Thanks also to the 5,000 plus people supporting her daily via email and meals and fundraisers. I also thank my wife Patti who has been at my side through it all. And Jake. He has gone above and beyond all our expectations. He is a wonderful man and we love him.
God blesses those who love Him.
Bill Burgess (Jennifer’s Dad)