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WIMD Pulse - October 2013

A Change of Seasons
by Pam Wirth, MD

Fall is here...evidenced by the falling leaves, the cool crisp air and the kids settled back into the routine of school. But October has a different meaning for me. You see, those pink ribbons have special significance for me as a breast cancer survivor. Just like I grieve the end of the hot summer days I love, I lament over the changes I can’t stop and seem to just endure the trials.

“Consider it pure joy, my [sisters], whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4, NIV 1984).

Most can understand how my outlook changed when I faced my own mortality with the cancer diagnosis. My body was forever altered after my bilateral mastectomy. It’s not just the big changes I resist, but it’s the little things that hit me too. Missing the smell of a newborn or coddling a tired toddler as I hold my grandson. How I struggle to stay connected with my independent teen or worry over the lack of interest in spiritual things of my oldest. Maybe it’s something I did wrong. An intense game of cards compounded by my insensitive suggestions sends my daughter-in-law away crying and me back pedaling trying to repair the damage to the relationship. How my husband is pulling at me for more time. When was the last time I cooked a healthy dinner for my family? Maybe it’s changes thrust upon me. Another work meeting, the next EHR update or failing to perform perfect CPR on that stupid mannequin. Or the bigger question of my future role in my organization. Was leaving my patients in the inner city who I deeply cared about for a suburban practice the easy way out?

During trials, both big and small, I believe I have learned perseverance and my faith was strengthened. I know beyond a shadow of doubt that I am my Father’s beloved child, forgiven, redeemed by grace and saved for a purpose. But have I found the pure joy that James speaks of? Is the joy in the blessings I overlook when I’m focusing too much on the trials? I see it when look around the dinner table when my whole family is gathered. I feel it in the satisfaction of a lasting marriage. My sisters have always been there for me and I can feel joy in my relationships with them, my best friends. I take joy in the lives of my children as they launch into careers and see the respect they’ve generated. I find joy in the confidence my teen shows when she faces a three-foot fence to jump with a reluctant horse or in the immense reward I feel in serving my patients no matter where I am. What do you think, my dear CMDA sisters, where is your joy? In your trials or your blessings or both?