Happy Birthday sweet girl. Get well quickly so you can have a proper celebration. Bethany Edwards Patterson and my granddaughter Ava Touchton are birthday buddies. On November 30, 2012 Bethany turned 30 and Ava turned 5. Bethany is beloved by so many, my family included. She is the youngest daughter of my best friend, Nancy Edwards, so I have loved Bethany since she was born. Bethany is a Christian, married to Rev. Wayne Patterson, and has the kindest spirit of anyone I know.
I write this in honor of her birthday and to ask for your prayers on her behalf. Today, she celebrates her birthday from Shands Hospital in Gainesville, Florida, where she is fighting to save the kidney that that a friend gifted to her seven years ago. I wrote about Bethany’s kidney transplant in my book, Pocket Full of Christmas. The name of the chapter that contains her story is Peace in All Circumstances and she is a model for that. As a birthday tribute to her, I am including that story below.
I ended her story by saying, “After a transplant, life has all the ups and downs of riding a roller coaster. You take blood levels several times a week and hold your breath waiting for results. You go to routine checkups wondering if you will be hospitalized again. Twice Nancy has called and calmly said, ‘We’re back on the roller coaster.’ Each time, the doctors solved the problem and Bethany came home from the hospital healthy again.”
They are back on the roller coaster again. Let’s all agree in prayer that Bethany will come home from the hospital healthy again. Please pray for our darling Bethany. You can follow her condition and pray for her by reading her husband’s blog “Jesus is Worth It.”
Bethany's Story: Difficult News At Christmas
From Pocket Full of Christmas – Having a Purpose Filled Advent, December 21: Peace in All Circumstances – Page 150
“Bethany’s going to need a kidney transplant,” the doctor gently informed a distraught mother and daughter.
“But she’s so young. She’s only twenty. Surely there’s another answer,” Nancy, her mother, argued. Bethany had one kidney removed at birth. A progressive kidney disease was causing Bethany’s remaining kidney to fail rapidly. While she had struggled with some health issues most of her life, this dire news came as a blow.
Bethany was a college student and enjoying normal campus life. She was a good student, a Christian, and her beautiful elf-like face glowed when she spoke. Although many young people stopped attending church when they left for college, not Bethany. “I get strength from church and my Christian friends. Of course I go to church,” she said.
Nancy has been my best friend since high school. We often joke that Bethany is the perfect daughter. Bethany always laughs and says, “I’m far from perfect.”
Bethany grew up in a Christian home. Her father, Barry, a full-time Christian minister, is on staff in a large church. Nancy plays violin in the church orchestra. Bethany has one sister, Allison, who loves her, and would gladly donate a kidney. My sense of fairness says this family has done everything right, so why were they facing a kidney transplant? It seemed particularly unfair to visit so many doctors at Christmas.
Concerned, I asked Bethany how Christmas was going. She looked surprised. “It’s going great. I’ll enjoy Christmas just as much as ever. I believe my doctors when they say that many people with a kidney transplant go on to have a family, career, and full lives. I trust God with my future. Doctors do make me nervous, but I go anyway. My main worry is Allison. I don’t like it that my illness might cause her pain.”
Bethany’s mother, Nancy, depended on prayer to get them through this. After getting the news, she immediately asked her church to pray. While normally very independent, she allowed friends to help. “I can’t go through this alone,” she said. Nancy trusts God with Bethany’s future. “I won’t allow any thoughts except Bethany coming out of this healthy and whole. She will have a good life. There will be a kidney for Bethany.” What some would call denial, others call faith.
The next year was difficult medically, with many trips back and forth to the doctor and hos¬pitals, some of them emergencies. You aren’t an official transplant candidate until your kidney function drops to a certain level. Waiting on that to happen is like being in the final stages of a difficult pregnancy, wondering when labor will start, and if the baby will be okay. Just before Christmas the following year, the doctors announced it was time.
Unfortunately, Allison’s kidney wasn’t a match. “I’m not worried,” Nancy said. It was tempt¬ing to put Bethany on a list for a cadaver donor but Nancy stood firm. “Cadaver transplants are riskier and require higher doses of rejection drugs. We will find a live donor. Someone will be a match.”
Anxiety overtook me. I knew people who had been on a transplant list for years. Yet, I should have trusted God more.
A friend of theirs fired e-mails to everyone he knew, asking for prayer and a kidney. Donna got one of those e-mails. Donna hadn’t seen Bethany in 5 years and immediately called Nancy. “I’m the one. I want to be tested first. God has told me I’m going to be a match. No one else needs to get tested.”
Again, I doubted. “What are the chances?” I warned Nancy. “Don’t get your hopes up.”
“Cheryle,” Nancy scolded. “Don’t cause me to doubt.” She was right. I was feeling protec¬tive and didn’t want her disappointed. I resolved from that moment forward, I was going to offer faith instead of doubt. Sure enough, Donna was a perfect match. The doctors wanted to schedule the surgery immediately, but Bethany put her foot down.
“I want to get through Christmas first. I’m also going to a Christian retreat in January with my friends.” Nancy and I both fretted over this, but Bethany was insistent. “I’ll be fine,” she said calmly. “This will be the last chance I’ll get to be with some of these friends because they’re graduating. I need this retreat.”
Bethany breezed through Christmas and enjoyed her retreat. She returned home spiritually centered and ready to face the future. She checked in the hospital, surrounded by family and Pocket Full of Christmas friends. I counted over thirty people in the waiting room when she had her surgery. “Go home,” she gently scolded. “I’ll be fine.” She hated worrying everyone. We stayed anyway.
As I write this 6 months after the transplant, Bethany and the donor are doing well. Donna never lost her sense of purpose or humor. When asked why she was willing to do this, she said, “When God tells you to do something, you’d better do it.” “I’m blessed that God picked me.” Donna is feeling great and is back at work.
After a transplant, life has all the ups and downs of riding a roller coaster. You take blood levels several times a week and hold your breath waiting for results. You go to routine checkups wondering if you will be hospitalized again. Twice Nancy has called and calmly said, “We’re back on the roller coaster.” Each time, the doctors solved the problem and Bethany came home from the hospital healthy again.