Beliefnet
Rod Dreher

I’m writing from Louisiana tonight to clarify my earlier, cryptic post. I rushed down here today from Philadelphia because now we know why my sister Ruthie has been so sick: surgeons this morning found a large, aggressive malignant tumor encompassing a major artery. She and her husband Mike told their girls tonight, so it’s not a secret anymore (which is why I can tell you). I won’t go into too many details, but it’s a very, very serious situation, and we’re waiting for more test results to determine what treatments might be successful, and whether or not there’s more cancer in her body.
Everyone in my family is devastated. Ruthie, a public schoolteacher, is only 41. She’s never smoked, and has always taken care of herself. Of the two of us, Ruthie was the good kid, the one who never gave our parents any trouble, and who was a friend to everyone. It’s not fair. It’s wretchedly unjust. Tonight when I saw her in the hospital, she was so sober and even-tempered about all this; the only time she got emotional was when she recounted earlier in the evening asking her children not to be angry at God about this, because He didn’t make their mother sick. There she is, lying in a hospital bed with inoperable cancer, and the thing she’s most worried about is that all of us will be angry at the Almighty or with her doctors for not diagnosing it sooner. That’s how Ruthie is; always thinking of other people and their feelings. That’s one reason why she is so rich with friends. Her attitude is: this is awful, but this is the hand I’ve been dealt, and I’m hopeful that I’ll beat this thing. She is a woman of strong Christian faith.
Her husband Mike is a firefighter and a retired soldier who returned from duty in Iraq with a Bronze Star. One of the bravest men I know. He’s shattered. So are their girls. But already in this dreadful situation, the love of their friends and neighbors is showing forth. Folks streamed in and out visiting today. Food has been coming in. Friends and family are offering to move in to care for the children while Ruthie fights this; another friend offered to sell everything he has and give them the money to pay their medical bills, if it came to that. He meant it, too. Ruthie’s new general practitioner (the doctor she saw for a second opinion when she wasn’t getting better, and who ordered all the tests that revealed the cancer) and his wife cared for the girls today, then brought them down to the hospital to see their mother and father tonight. While they were there, as had been arranged, this doctor told the children their mother had cancer. Then he prayed with them all.
This is what living in a small town — at least this small town — means. Everyone is rallying around Ruthie and her family, just as they did when Mike was in Iraq that year (the photo below is Ruthie and the children greeting him at the airport when he got home). There is something deeply good, even holy, about all this. I should say too that my colleagues at Templeton didn’t even bat an eye: they told me to get on a plane and help my family and to not think of anything else. Imagine that — I’ve only been working there a short time, and this is how generous they are. It’s amazing how magnificent people can be.
We need a miracle. We really, really do. And we need it fast. If you pray, think of Ruthie. We who love her, Mike and their children can do a lot for them, but the one thing we can’t do is save her life.
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