Monday, March 24, 2008


I spent the week with my sister Judy last week. She is halfway through her chemo at this point. All indicators are good that the chemo is doing what it is suppose to be doing, as far as the CA125 test is concerned. More about that in my next post...

Right now, I feel urged to write about other observances of my week with Judy. On Wednesday I spent the day with Judy at the hospital for her chemo treatment. The chemo treatment and the other patients I met are another story too, and maybe I'll get there in that later post. But right now I want to write about the "warriors" I encountered. Judy is being treated at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, located in Washington DC. Luckily for Judy, Walter Reed is one of the foremost research facilities for gynocological cancers. We feel blessed that Judy is at one of the best medical facilities in the world, with a team of nationally recognized medical professionals. Judy is not an army gal, but she is an army wife. Thats why she's at Walter Reed. Anyway...I was overwhelmed at some of the sights I saw there last week, soldiers of all ages there for a variety of treatment. I saw young men with war wounds sent home from Iraq. As I waited at the hospital pharmacy to pick up Judy's meds, there was a young couple, he had lost both legs in the fighting in Afganistan. He was a proud young man, with a smile that lit up his entire face. He could not have been more than 25 or 30 years old. His wife stood serenely by his wheelchair, her hand on his shoulder, her kisses tender on the top of his head. They were not much more than children themselves, living in a hard adult world.

I met an older gentleman, Mr. Hails, who was getting his weekly bloodwork for his own cancer treatment, who had spent several years in Korea, during the Korean war. He gave us a history lecture on the Old Soldiers Home in Washington, where he lives. He told us about the Mexican American war, how the Old Soldiers home was built for the wounded soldiers of that war, so they would have a place to live. And, about how Abraham Lincoln had a home on the grounds of the Old Soldiers Home because he felt safe there, and could escape from the pressures of Washington and the Civil War. Mr. Hails was proud to be a historian, and a patriot. He told Judy how pretty she was, and asked her how old she was. He was precious, full of words, and history, and happy to spend an hour with us, chatting with two "younger" ladies.

I was humbled at what I saw at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Men and women, all ages and all colors, from different wars, proud of their service, many of them wore their uniforms, their medals, and their injuries with honor. I winced at those that were not much older than my own sons. Humbled, yes, thats the word, and honored to be among them. I felt like another world had been opened to me, one that up until then, I could only imagine. Often I found myself holding my breath, overwhelmed, and I would have to remind myself to breathe. Later I pondered on the thought that everyone should experience what I experienced on that day, to see the things and the people that I encountered, see determination, pain, pride, and tenderness all in one place. Warriors, yes, every one of them.

Walter Reed Army Medical Center


minnesota kathi said...

Rebecca, my heart aches for you, Judy and those at Walter Reed. You are in my prayers...


Beaufort Belle said...

What a wonderful experience, and as you said, I am sure, very humbling. What these wonderful warriors have done for us now and in the past.

As you were blessed to encounter them, I am sure they were as equally blessed to encounter you.