Cancer is just always throwing curve balls: Surgery is tomorrow

UPDATE on Sept. 22, 2015 — Carla Offenburger’s liver surgery has now been re-scheduled again, and is now set for its original date and time — 7 a.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 23, at Iowa Methodist Medical Center in Des Moines.  We got the call early Tuesday morning, Sept. 22, from the staff of Dr. Qasim Chaudhry, saying he and his team are now available Wednesday morning, and Carla decided to proceed with it. So the following column is now dated.


COOPER, Iowa, Sept. 21, 2015 – My friend Pastor Deb Griffin reminded me late this last week of Jeremiah 29:11: “I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord; plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans of hope and a future.”

It was just what I needed after getting a call on Thursday afternoon from Christina, the nurse of Dr. Qasim Chaudhry, the liver specialist scheduled to do my surgery at Iowa Methodist Medical Center in Des Moines. Christina called to tell me that my surgery must be delayed until Tuesday, Sept. 29. Recall I have been planning for it happening this week, on Wednesday, Sept. 23, the date it was initially scheduled.

Talk about getting hit in the gut – which is already in some pain. I was really, really bummed. But, at this point, we can just be grateful that it isn’t about me and any change in my adenoid cystic carcinoma and the large cancerous tumor it has caused in my liver.  Rather, it’s about Dr. Chaudhry and an unforeseen emergency he must handle.

So I want all those prayers to keep coming strong all this week and into next week. And, especially now, for my surgery on Tuesday, Sept. 29. Pray for my medical team, the removal of all the cancer and for my successful recovery. And let’s say a little prayer for Dr. Chaudhry and whatever has entered his life that required the change in my surgery date and that of a few others.

Chris & Carla on Sunrunner at Okoboji Sept 18.JPG

While the wait for surgery was extended, Carla (right) and her sister Chris Woods and husbands had a get-away to Lake Okoboji and the Clay County Fair in Spencer. Here Chris and Carla were hooded up for a boat ride on a chilly late afternoon at Fillenwarth Beach Resort.

After I was notified of the change, I checked in with my new oncologist Dr. Matthew Hill on Friday to confirm that delaying my surgery is not causing undo harm to me. Alas, it will just be enduring the pain and discomfort that I’ve been managing with pain medicine. Mostly though, it’s the ongoing mind games that can take over when something so life changing is about to happen. It’s best to just get “it” over with, and now I’m waiting another week. The cancer roller coaster is a mean one.

Anyway, Pastor Deb sent me the verse from Jeremiah, reminding me that God has a plan for me. And I’m happy with that. Everything happens for a reason.

I didn’t let the news bother the little get-away Chuck and I had been planning for some time to head up to Lake Okoboji for a few days and stay at Fillenwarth Beach Resort. My sister Chris Woods and brother-in-law Tony Woods, of Des Moines, went with us. And with the exception of Tony thinking he could get away with ordering ahi tuna tacos at the Okoboji Store, a new restaurant on the lake, we had a wonderful time. After being reminded of my big tuna lament in an earlier column, Tony quickly changed his order.

We did some serious shopping at The Three Sons clothing store in Milford, home to all things University of Okoboji; we had a nice walk along the lake near Arnolds Park Amusement Park; enjoyed the lake view from our Fillenwarth Resort room; and had a chilly, but still fun, boat ride on Friday late afternoon. Saturday we spent the day at the Clay County Fair in Spencer.


After Okoboji, Carla and Chuck headed to New Melleray Abbey near Dubuque for mass Sunday morning and then some time with our favorite monk, Father Jim O’Connor.

Chris and Tony dropped Chuck and me off in Gowrie to pick up our car late Saturday afternoon, and Chuck and I headed over to New Melleray Abbey, the Catholic Trappist monastery located near Peosta, about a dozen miles southwest of Dubuque.  We got up Sunday morning and attended mass at the monastery and then spent precious time with our pal Father Jim O’Connor, the 91-year-old monk who has been a spiritual mentor to both of us for years. 

Father Jim blessed me and prayed for my healing. To be held in prayer by a monk like him is indescribable.

Years ago I remember him telling me, “Carla, it’s the job of those of us here at the abbey to pray for you in the outside world.” It is a great source of strength to know there are monks like Father Jim praying for all of us, don’t you think?

So this switch in plans for surgery has me with a few more days to plan my reading strategy, get my pajamas and lounging clothes packed, and wrap up a few more lose ends before I head to Des Moines for the surgery on Sept. 29.

Carla books & bacon for recovery Sept 21.JPG

She is getting her reading ready for surgery and recovery, including some books that her friend Lisa Turner sent her, and that gift included the special surprise you can see in the middle of the stack.

Cancer is always throwing a curve ball or two, and I guess this is one for me.

We’ll keep you posted on how things progress. We sure appreciate knowing we can count on all of your prayers happening, along those of Father Jim O’Connor. Together all things are possible through Him who gives us strength.

And thank you for the continued notes, messages and cards that keep coming my way. I feel truly blessed that each of you is in my life.

You can write the columnist at or comment using the handy form below here.

6 thoughts on “Cancer is just always throwing curve balls: Surgery is tomorrow

  1. Carla, I am thinking of you often and praying daily for your return to great health. The power of prayer is wonderful! I hope you can enjoy our nice fall weather this week. We are close neighbors — please know that we can help out when needed. Wishing you a successful surgery and recovery. Take care and blessings to you both.


  2. Praying with you, Carla! I recently went through the mind games of mammograms, utlra sounds, etc., to find I had a small something, 6-mm at its largest; more ultra sounds, biopsy and was told it was benign but surgeons want to remove it anyway. Talked with my primary care doctor; told me to get on with my life, if it is benign why go through more tests, more radiology and invasive surgery. Yes, I had some of that mind game you are dealing with, only yours is a more serious one. May the surgeon’s hands be guided by the prayers and God’s hands, and you will be a victorious warrior. 150 XOXO.


  3. Carla, you are at the top of our prayer list every morning. I would think recovery from cancer in the liver would be the most conquerable because, as you said, the liver regenerates. Interested to see your stack of books. I read “All the light we cannot see” — loved it.

    Best, Joan

  4. Thanks for the update, Carla. I have a good idea of how the liver does regenerate. Years ago a friend of mine had a son whose liver needed some “tlc.” He was facing some radical surgery on the liver. The weekend before his surgery, I was in New York City and stopped in to St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Now that building is really cool! I lit a candle for the little fella, and when I got home from the trip, the surgery was cancelled and a new doctor had been found and no surgery. I am thinking that this new doctor is a blessing for you. Heavenly Father does move in mysterious ways. The blessing you got from Father Jim O’Connor will help, too. I will keep you all in my prayers. Let your mom know I said hi, too.

    Prayers for you,

  5. Graduated in ’55 (from Shenandoah High School) and knew the Offenburgers fairly well. I will pray for you each day that you will recover better than ever!

  6. You have been in our prayers since we got the word of the return of that vicious return of cancer. Joey and I were just mentioning you Saturday, so I decided to (check the website to) see what was up — and here it is surgery day. Our prayers are with you and the doctors as they use their God-given profession during surgery today. We will continue prayers for your recovery in the days to come.

    Elma and Dallas

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *