Remember this Gift – Gift of Care
by Jessica Thomes Pepin

Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” —John 21:16

A year ago on Thanksgiving, my husband and I were putting up Christmas decorations with our two young children, including our newborn baby. We were putting ornaments on the tree we had just cut down the day before when the phone rang and a friend asked me to review the medical images of a young woman working at an orphanage in Honduras. The images looked very suggestive of ovarian cancer, one of the cancers I treat as a physician. I provided recommendations and discussed the next steps. It would mean chemotherapy and surgery for a woman in her early 40’s. However, the most difficult component was knowing that access to care was not going to be easy for this young woman.

The holiday season rolled along. I was informed that the young woman’s biopsy was consistent with ovarian cancer, and due to lack of access for surgery up front, chemotherapy was initiated first. As Christmas day came and went, I thought about the young woman, and wondered how chemotherapy was going. She was often in my prayers.

Roughly a week after the New Year, my phone rang. This time I was called to fly to Honduras to perform the surgery on the young woman. A cancer surgery. In a third world country. I breathed in silence and thought about my children, including my baby, who was now 5 months old and I was still breastfeeding. However, there was no denying the need to go in order to perform the surgery. My husband agreed. It was clear I was being called to be there for this young woman.

Just over a month later, I flew down to Honduras with an experienced nurse. I performed the surgery with so much love and assistance from nurses, local physicians, and support staff. The young woman did well after surgery. She went on to finish her chemotherapy. It was such an overwhelmingly positive experience. My husband and I will both be traveling back this winter to provide care to the individuals in the mountains of Honduras where they do not have access to care nor the financial means to obtain care. It is fascinating how often the gift of giving care to someone becomes a gift to us. Giving care is a wonderful way we can serve others to glorify God.

What memory do you have of how you gave or received care? How was it a blessing?