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How a Stranger Showed Me Compassion After I Was Given a Life-Threatening Diagnosis

Updated on May 22, 2019
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Linda's two favorite passions in life are writing and cooking. Her cooking skills were taught by her dear father when she was a young girl.

A Stranger Shows Compassion


What is Compassion

According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the definition of compassion is:

sympathetic consciousness of others' distress together with a desire to alleviate it. ... pity, compassion, commiseration, condolence, sympathy mean the act or capacity for sharing the painful feelings of another. ... compassion implies pity coupled with an urgent desire to aid the person who is hurting.

Surgery to Remove the Cancer

Waking up in the recovery room after the grueling seven hour surgery, took a while. I felt like I was in a dream- like state when the surgeon said, "Linda, the thoracotomy to remove the middle lobe of your right lung was a success." I felt really groggy from the anesthesia and said, "thank you doctor, you rock," and lifted my right arm, giving him a high five. I was moved to the cardiac unit first, because they were at full capacity in the pulmonary area. I remember hearing a heart alarm going off several times for the man who laid next to me, behind the curtain. Having anxiety issues and a history of panic attacks, this was not the best place for me to recuperate from major surgery. They eventually moved me downstairs when a bed opened up, but I always wondered what became of my first roommate.

Time to Recuperate

Once I was moved into a permanent room for the remainder of my stay, it was time to settle in and heal. I was relieved the surgery was behind me but knew I had a long journey ahead. I was aware there could be complications as I recuperated and a pathology report to face in the near future.The report would tell me if the cancer had spread to lymph nodes which would change the staging and require chemotherapy and radiation treatment. I hoped and prayed the tumor was contained in the middle lobe and I wouldn't need further treatment. At this point they believed I was a stage 1A, which is the best one can hope for with this disease.

The lead surgeon informed me he would be leaving town for a few days but would be back before I left the hospital. He was very clear that if the path report results came in before he was back, they would not be revealed until his return. He also wanted to make sure my family was notified so they could be with me at this critical time.

The assistant surgeon was coming in daily to check on me while the lead surgeon was away. Other than a bladder infection from the catheter and phlebitis from the I.V. in my arm, things were going as well as expected. Family and friends were a great source of support during my hospital stay. My twin sister who is my best friend, made a point of visiting me twice a day. Once in the morning when I was 'up and at em' and after the dinner hour when she'd lay in bed next to me, gabbing and watching t.v. It made this scary difficult time, feel a little more like home.

Meeting the Compassionate Stranger

t was a sunny March morning as I anxiously awaited my twin sister's visit. The assistant surgeon walked in my room to run the routine health assessment he'd been doing while the lead surgeon was away. When he finished, he moved to the side of my bed and told me in a very serious tone he had something to tell me. "Linda, your pathology report came back and it doesn't look good. Your lung cancer spread to two of your lymph nodes. Your not a stage 1-A like we first thought, but stage 3A. You will need to go through chemotherapy and radiation treatment." My mind was whirling as I recalled the results were supposed to be given by my lead surgeon. "You have a 20-25% chance of surviving the next five years. I will have a chaplain come up and pray with you." I was stunned, shocked, scared and confused. With the message delivered, he walked out. Before I could even react, I saw someone running towards me. She jumped on my bed and held me in her arms. The stranger kept repeating, "I love you, I love you, you will be alright, you will be alright," in between reassuring kisses on my cheeks. I realized that the person comforting me was my roommate. She was a very sick woman in her eighties. I hadn't heard a peep out of her since I moved in the room several days before. There we were- two strangers; crying, hugging and holding on for dear life.

Have you ever received compassion from a total stranger

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© 2012 Linda Rogers


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