Bladder surgery and a priest

Wayne MitchellJenny was prepared for the worst when she was wheeled into her room after bladder surgery at Baptist Memorial Hospital in Oxford and was met by a priest.

It must be really bad, she thought, if the Rev. Paul Stephens had driven all the way from Tupelo on Friday to be there when she came from the recovery room after surgery to remove a tumor.

After all, we had only been going to All Saints’ Episcopal Church a few weeks and were not even members. What was the rector doing at her bedside in Oxford?

Just comforting the sick, as it turns out. A friend of ours who is a member of the church told him that Jenny had been diagnosed with a tumor and was having surgery.

He arrived at her room before she did, and only a few minutes after the surgeon, Dr. Brent Hardin, had sat down with me to give the good news that he had been able to remove the tumor while only cutting away a small part of the bladder. He did not have the pathology report, but was optimistic that it might not be cancer.

The ordeal that turned our lives upside down started only a couple of weeks ago when Jenny went for a routine checkup to Dr. David Williams at the Women’s Clinic of New Albany. He did an ultrasound (Silly me, I thought they were just for women who were pregnant.) and didn’t like what he saw.

He sent her for a CT scan at Baptist in New Albany. Two days later she was in Oxford seeing a urology specialist. Dr. Hardin said she might have bladder cancer, but there was no way to know for sure until the tumor was removed.

It’s the kind of bolt out of the blue that reminds you how fleeting life can be and to make sure you are focused on the right things. There’s a favorite saying of mine that I preach to others, but have had a hard time practicing myself. It goes like this: “There is life and there is work. Do not confuse the two.”

Jenny, who prides herself on never getting sick and never missing a day with her kids in the classroom, was depressed. And after reading up on bladder tumors on the internet (sometimes there can be too much information), she was even worse.

She couldn’t be sick, she didn’t have time for it, she said. Who would take care of her second graders when school starts Aug. 18 at Oxford Elementary?

She threw herself into getting her room ready for students. She didn’t get home from school until 6 p.m. on Thursday, even though we had to get up at 3:30 a.m. Friday to get to Oxford for the early morning surgery.

As we were preparing to leave the hospital Saturday afternoon, Dr. Hardin called from home to tell us he had the results of the pathology report. She had an unusual tumor unlike any he or the pathologist had ever seen, but it was not cancerous. He expects a full recovery.

Jenny is home counting her blessings – the blessings of excellent doctors, fine nurses, quality hospitals and a caring priest.

She’s also counting the days until she can join her second graders. All is well.

T. Wayne Mitchell, Gazette publisher, can be reached at 662-534-6321 or at

About Wayne Mitchell

Publisher of the New Albany Gazette