The X-Ray

 

"Now, Hope, just stand very straight in front of this big square," instructed the nurse. "Chin up. Put your shoulders back and hold your breath when I signal. OK?" Hope was 11 years old now and could follow directions very well.

"What is all this fuss about? Iím not sick!" thought Hope, but when she saw the signal, she held her breath and that was it.

The big white trailer had arrived in Ozamiz for the first time. People entered the Mobile Xray Unit every day. In one door, "Hold your breath..." and out the other side. Mom had announced, "This is fantastic: a Tb X-ray UnitĖright in OzamizĖweíd better take advantage of that!" As many as could crowd into the mission jeep went along to get checked. "It wonít hurt, only like taking your photo. Címon along, Hope." Two weeks later a card came in the mail which said, "We advise that Hope Anderson see a medical doctor for further diagnosis." Hope didnít understand, neither did Mom and Dad, but they immediately planned a family flight to Cebu City on another island.

March 7th, 1964 was expected to be a fun Family Happy Birthday Party for 3-year-old Ben. Ben was Hopeís special little brother, Godís gift to her because she had been all alone in the family after Laurel died. And now God even added to their family little Valerie in JanuaryĖHope could hardly wait to get home from school each day to find Baby Val and try to make her laugh. "Oh, she is so cuddly and funnyĖI love her!" She would hold Val in the big rocking chair and talk to her. But today they all got into the plane and zoomed off, carrying Benís birthday presents in the back.

Dr. Su looked very serious when he came back into the examining room after looking at Hopeís x-rays. "Your daughter Hope definitely has a spot on her lung," he said. "It is Tuberculosis. We need to take special care of her, beginning now. She must take injections every other day for one month. She must rest every day. She needs to gain weight. She must sleep alone in a room and she must not get close to Baby Val. Keep Hopeís dishes separate from the rest of the family, and we will start these pills that she needs to take for one or two years. Come back in a month."

"Are they talking about me," worried Hope. "Iím just 11 years old and about to graduate from Grade Six at the barrio school. Can I keep on going to school?" she asked Dr. Su.

"Yes, but you must rest at noon instead of playing with the other kids, and be sure to take your injections every other day." Dr. Su was kind, but he was telling Hope things she really didnít want to hear...or do.

"You mean I canít play with my baby sister anymore?"

"No, not for at least one month. Then weíll see." The Andersons left Dr. Suís office and tried to make fun for Benís birthday. At least he loved his new red cowboy boots and the little car! Hope tried to join the fun, but she felt sad.

Nowadays the Andersons lived right alongside the Ozamiz Airport, in rooms above the Tri-Pacer hangar. Rows of coconut trees grew everywhere behind the open airstrip. Every morning Hope carried her lunch and books and hiked down the runway to the road to catch the public jeepney. In fact, she had to take two different jeepneys to get to the barrio school. Good that the Filipinos always greeted the young Hope all along the roads. School was pretty far and she always wanted to be on time for the flag raising ceremony when all the pupils sang together. She so much wanted to graduate. "Mr. Obut says Iím the only American girl ever to graduate from a barrio schoolĖI just have to do it!"

On those days when Mom would be waiting with that needle and medicine...on those days Hope dragged along slowly, one step after another along the runway, coming home to the hangar. But then Daddy came up with a great idea: "Címon, Hope, you and I will have an eating contest. The one who gains the most, wins the prize, a BICYCLE! Want to try?" Hope watched Daddy put a big chart up on the wall to show how she and Daddy would be racing for the prize.

"Wow! A bicycle...I want one!"

At night Hope slept in Mom and Dadís bed, all alone in their room while Mom and Dad slept on the dining room floor by pushing the table over. Absolutely everyone was praying and trying to help Hope get well. "The really big problem for me is...am I going to get to go on to 7th Grade at Nasuli School? Daddy will have to fly me there, and Iíll live with other missionary kids. It would be so much fun." And every night all the Andersons prayed that God would help Hope follow the doctorís orders, and take the medicine, and rest, and not hold Baby Val, and sleep alone, and not play too hard..." Then she slept.

For Mom and Dad also Hopeís health was a question. Mom asked, "Do you think the school will welcome Hope to study with the other kids, and live with them, when they hear she has Tb?"

Dad wondered too, "When I fly that way next week, Iíll stop and ask Doctor Nelson what he thinksĖheís the school doctor. He will know what to do. Weíll just have to wait and see. Letís keep praying."

The whole month passed. When the 15th injection was finished, what a happy day. Hope smiled when she stepped off Dr. Suís scales and he beamed, "Youíve gainedĖgood! Just keep swallowing the pills now." Hope even beat Dad on the contest. She won the bicycle, but she couldnít ride it. It would make her too tired. Would she never be rid of this terrible sickness that forces you to rest so much. What would Dr. Nelson advise?

Then one day, after all the medicines and x-rays were checked over by Dr. Nelson, he sent this wonderful message: "Sure. OK. Send Hope over to school. I say she can play and swim and do what all the other kids are doing...even ride a bike. Anyway, Iíll keep watching out for her. Youíll get well, Hope. Come ahead."

Graduation Night came. Hopeís name was called and she proudly walked to the stage to receive her diploma as the Valedictorian of the 6th Grade Class at the barrio school. Mom pinned the special ribbon on Hopeís new dress. The cameras clicked. Hope couldnít stop smiling. God was so good. "Now, Iím SURE I will be a doctor someday too. God will help me. I know it!"

Today Dr. Hope Anderson Cranston works in a big, busy hospital in St. Louis. She cares for only the sickest patients who come to her to be treated. She watches out for all of them in her shiny, efficient Intensive Care Unit very carefully, just like Dr. Su and Dr. Nelson, and God watched out for her in the Philippines.