Dear Rabbi Brody,
I emailed you in December last year requesting your advice. I had been diagnosed with breast cancer and a mastectomy was scheduled within a few days. The chronology is a little fuzzy in my memory now. The final email I received from you was something to the effect of "have the surgery and thank HaShem for your disease".
Not exactly what I wanted to hear at that particular moment! Not only was it, in my mind, cold and generic, how would it be humanly possible for me to be thankful for this horrible disease? I was angry with you, threatened to boycott Lazer Beams, Breslev, and cancel my membership with Breslev Israel! A day or so later, I mentioned to my friend Bill (also a reader of yours) that I had received a reply from you. I had told him that I wrote to you. I also told him the way I felt about your less-than-10-word response.
Keep in mind that we had already read Garden of Emuna and listened to numerous of your emuna series lectures. Bill reminded me that I had contacted you and I was obligated to follow your advice. He also reminded me that you answer tons of letters every day and that I was being a little selfish to expect a long wordy email. After all, you're the rabbi! So I swallowed my indignation, pride, fear, etc., walked out in my backyard and began to pray. I thought I would choke on the words, but, with tears streaming down my cheeks, I thanked HaShem for "the disease". Instantly, the fear left me and I regained my "center", that being connected with G-d in a way I had not been since I got the diagnosis. I was once again at peace in the core of my being.
Soon thereafter I had the surgery and was never afraid. Bill kept reminding me that G-d already knew the outcome and there was nothing to fear. Several weeks later I met with my oncologist for the first time. She wanted to submit my lab work to a hoity-toity lab in California for an oncotype test before deciding on a course of treatment for my cancer. I had never heard of this before, but agreed. Apparently it would indicate the likelihood of cancer recurring in my body. I was still seeing my surgeon at this time, who I really liked, and he was also anxiously awaiting the outcome.
When the results were in, I went to see the oncologist for her to interpret them to me. My oncotype test score was 2. She explained to me that that was extremely low and that I would need neither chemotherapy nor radiation! I grinned, said Baruch HaShem, full well believing that this would be the case. A day or so later I had an appointment with my surgeon and he further explained that he had never, in his years of practice specializing in breast cancer, seen a single digit score on an oncotype test. He had seen some 12s or 14s, but never a 2!
Needless to say, I had no angst or problem thanking HaShem for this turn of events and this is what I knew the outcome would be because I had followed your advice, thanked HaShem every day, and maintained my emuna even when it was difficult to do so. Thus, my sincere gratitude to you for making me mad! I truly am blessed to know you and I am honored to have met you in person when you were last here. We need help here in OKC and you hit the nail on the head in your talk. Love and unity, which is what I was praying you would talk about as I was driving to the shul. Funny how that works, huh?