You Have Cancer
There is not a family that I know or can think of who hasn't experienced cancer. My father died in 2003 from pancreatic cancer after having also fought colon cancer. The diagnoses is never an easy one to accept and most of us are naive to think it can't happen to us. As we get older we worry when we go for our annual physical, will we also get a phone call and instructions further tests need to be made, something unusual or different has shown up in our blood work or x rays.
This week I visited a friend of mine with whom I also worked for nearly 30 years at a local GE plant. I, like my friend, had worked in several areas of the plant and one in particular where known carcinogens were used in metal and chemical processes. My friend retired three years ago and within three months he became sick. An extensive physical examination revealed he had esophageal cancer. He also had cancer in other areas of his body. Aggressive treatments using chemo and radiation have thus far proved futile. His prognosis is not good and he is only 57 years old.
As I sat in his home admiring all the mounted deer heads on his den walls and several black bear. I realized Gary can no longer do the things he once loved such as deer hunting and bear hunting. When I pulled into his yard I saw all the beagle lots where he still keeps his hunting dogs and the horses he loved to ride near the barn pasture.
We sat and talked as he ate a bowl of home made soup his mom had made and brought for his lunch and he opened up and began to tell me his experience with cancer. He is not bitter or sad and realizes that no particular thing was the cause of his cancer, not even his work experience at the plant or the fact he smoked and used chewing tobacco. My friends focus was on his family and friends. He told me he had a stack of cards from well wishers and he had to turn off his phone to get rest at times.
It is the support of loved ones and friends that matter most at these time when life has dealt us a lemon. What do you say to someone who is quickly approaching death with cancer? Words seem so insignificant. It was as I listened to my friend bare his soul, I realized the wisdom of his own words. Live each day as if it were your last. Keep short accounts and maintain those relationships you hold dear. A life successfully lived is not measured in bank accounts with huge sums or in large tracts of real estate and a fine home but in the simple treasures of a satisfied mind and the unconditional love of family, friends and neighbors. The comfort we all receive from that love coupled with a faith in God and a sure hope of our eternal destiny will sustain the soul and spirit when die day finally comes.
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