Mom is still with us, and God has granted her a most unexpected and miraculous recovery. We praise Him for the gift of life and for each new day we have together.

A Miracle for Mom

Joshua Steele · June 13, 2024

AUTHOR’S NOTE: The text in this article began as a simple blog post but turned into more of a journal entry. It’s far longer than most we publish, and may be more than you have time to read. But rather than push for brevity, I decided this story was worth telling in more detail. I’ve recorded it here for my own memory and for the glory of God.

TL;DR— Mom is still with us, and God has granted her a most unexpected and miraculous recovery. We praise Him for the gift of life and for each new day we have together.

The Journey Home

Six weeks ago, I was begging God for a day—even half a day or just a few hours—a chance to see my mom again before she passed into eternity. On the morning of May 1, as our family prepared to board a plane in Vienna bound for the US, Mom’s heart still beat, albeit weakly.

International flights usually offer in-flight wifi for a fee, and this time, I planned to pay for it. I couldn’t bear the thought of being off-grid when the end came. If we couldn’t make it in time, a video call was the next best option to say goodbye. To my dismay, I soon discovered that the wifi on our flight was not working. We would have no contact with our family while in the air.

Nine hours later, we landed in Toronto, where we learned that Mom was still alive. A few hours more, and we were pulling up to the gate at DFW — a mere 30-minute drive from where Mom lay in the cancer wing of Harris Hospital in Fort Worth.

My brother and sister-in-law picked us up at the international terminal (we need two vehicles these days), and we were off. We took everyone first to my parents’ home in Azle, where I quickly showered and put on fresh clothes. After a hurried snack, Abbie and I jumped in the car and raced downtown to the hospital.

Face to Face

I’ll never forget walking into Mom’s room. Would she be conscious? Would she know me? How long should I stay? Would this be the last time I saw her?

As it turned out, she did recognize me. She was incredibly frail, but she said my name and managed a smile. I kissed her, held her hand silently, and thanked God that we were finally together.

After only ten minutes — I feared to exhaust her — we left and returned to the car. I told Kelsie later that, had Abbie not been with me, I would have sat in the driver’s seat and sobbed.

Mom’s final days in the hospital were hard. She had contracted a virus which, in her weakened state, threatened any moment to end her life. Prior to our arrival, my siblings had been taking shifts, sitting up with Mom at the hospital. They listened to the doctors’ reports, helped Mom take her meds, and tried to do what they could to make her comfortable. But the numbers from her bloodwork were grim.

Finally, her main cancer specialist told us that the end was near. Mom’s body was not responding to the treatments, he explained, and her kidneys were failing. At one point, they had even discussed putting her on dialysis just to keep her alive until our family could make it in from Ukraine. But now that was behind us, and there was no further point in keeping Mom in the hospital.

Going Home

Hospice. That was all we had left to offer Mom. As the arrangements were made for transport, we were told she likely had mere days to live. She exhibited all the signs of a person whose body is shutting down.

I still remember standing by the front gate at Steele Creek, waiting for the ambulance to arrive. I was arguing with myself about whether I should video Mom’s homecoming. Would that be appropriate? It was such an important event, and yet so sad. I decided to go for it, and moments later, the ambulance appeared.

iPhone camera rolling, I followed the ambulance down the driveway to where our entire family waited with tears in our eyes to greet our precious mother on what we all expected would be her final journey.

Minutes later, Mom was installed in her waiting hospice bed. She had requested that we place it in the front of the house near a window. This way, she could easily see outside and also be near family.

Final Days?

The next few days were spent singing hymns, administering medications, and desperately trying to savor every last moment we had. We even managed a family picture in the rain! And yet, much as we feared it, the end did not come.

Close friends and family soon began calling, asking if they could visit. Streams of people came through our doors bringing food, gifts, and sometimes medical equipment. All of them came to share what they thought would be their last encounter with a dear friend who had touched their lives. There were many tearful meetings full of hugs and prayers and gratefulness. And still, the end did not come.

A chaplain came by from the hospice service and prayed with us. He left some booklets about how to handle grief. They lay at the end of the counter in Mom and Dad’s large open kitchen — a silent reminder that we were people who were about to experience deep grief and might need booklets to help us cope. Days more passed, and the booklets began to collect dust. And still, the end did not come.

Daring to Hope

In a way, our minds and hearts were refusing to allow us to hope or even to explore the subtle signs we were seeing in Mom: a slight improvement in her color, lucidity returning, hints at improved kidney function, and, most of all, no pain. We were all waiting for Mom to die, but the reality unfolding before us was that Mom was getting stronger.

Finally, we decided to have Mom’s blood drawn for testing via a third party. What we discovered shocked and thrilled us. Mom’s white blood cell count was up, her kidneys were coming back, and other markers showed positive movement. In addition, we had by that time received the results of Mom’s two final cancer marker checks. Both were trending downward — a sign that the treatments had been working after all!

There was still one thing that stood out as a concern. Mom’s hemoglobin was critically low — just above 5. (Normal levels for a woman Mom’s age would be 11-13.) We knew already that the low hemoglobin was a direct result of her cancer treatments and kidney failure, but the consensus was that, in her weakened state, Mom’s body would not be able to recover to normal levels on its own.

Normally, blood transfusions are not a part of the care package for people in hospice. And yet, in Mom’s case, it now seemed increasingly apparent that the only thing standing between her and recovery was her critically low hemoglobin — something easily resolved via transfusion.

All this came to a head late on a Saturday evening, and, knowing that time was of the essence, we gathered around Mom’s bed for a family meeting. My youger brother Josiah, who is a medical laboratory scientist, explained the facts of her current condition based on the latest bloodwork, and Mom, though very weak, understood the choice she now faced. If we did nothing, she would likely fade out peacefully within a couple of days. Level-5 hemoglobin (and falling) is not sustainable. On the other hand, we could rush her to the ER for a transfusion and a new chance at life.

You might think the choice would be obvious, but for someone who has spent years fighting the pain and exhaustion of chronic disease, the chance to end that fight quietly at home with your family is attractive. We assured Mom that the decision was hers and that we would support her regardless.

Mom asked a couple of questions about her bloodwork and the transfusion and then, looking at us through her clear blue eyes, she said, “Let’s do it.”

A Race Against Time

We all sprang into action, and soon, Mom was speeding down the highway bound for the very hospital that days ago had sent her home to die. It was about midnight when they got her checked into a room, and later the following morning, she received her first unit of blood.

“We need to get her to 7,” they told us. “It will take two or maybe three units, but if we can get to 7, then she can go home.” I was on shift as the first unit finished, and a short time later, they started the second. We waited.

It was early afternoon when the final drops of the second unit of blood flowed into Mom’s veins. About an hour later, they drew a sample, and we waited again. Finally, the results came. Hemoglobin: 7.4.


A mere 18 hours after Mom’s decision to do the transfusion, we were back home and, more importantly, back in the fight. The days and weeks that followed were not always smooth sailing. We had someone sitting up with Mom around the clock. We took her vitals at regular intervals and carefully logged all her medications as she took them.

But despite the bumps, Mom’s transformation was and continues to be remarkable. Her color returned, her sharpness of mind, and perhaps most strikingly, her mobility. The oxygen machine, the tanks, and the walker now stand in a corner of the living room, unused and collecting dust.

When we got here from Ukraine, Mom could barely raise her head off the pillow. Soon after the transfusion, she began moving about with a walker, and today, as I write these words, she is working in the kitchen, helping Kelsie and the other ladies to prepare food for Family Day here at Steele Creek.

In His Hands

The fight is not over. We are well aware that the cancer is still in Mom’s body, but we are now even more aware that the Great Physician still lives, still loves, and still works miracles.

In the days leading up to our trip, I prayed and asked God for fifteen more years of life for Mom. My faith was weak, but I clung to the knowledge that He is strong, He is good, and with Him, nothing is impossible. I still don’t know God’s final plan for Mom’s life or whether He will give her the fifteen years. But as I reflect on all He has done for Mom and our family, I’m beginning to wish I had asked for thirty.

“Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases;” (Psalms 103:2-3)

To God be the Glory

Like what you're reading?
Let's keep in touch!