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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Proof Of Life

It seems that I have something in common with Patrick Swayze, beyond stunningly good looks and a charming yet commanding presence.

There's something very wrong with my pancreas, and it may be cancer. (May be, because I lost my health insurance when I lost my job, and the confirmatory tests are not really affordable, to say nothing of the treatment. Symptoms are there, and the last thing the doctors said while I could still pay them was, likely now or very soon.)

It's said that pancreatic cancer is about as scary as it gets. I find that I don't even want to write the statistics, for fear of jinxing myself. Suffice it to say that the prospects are somewhere south of grim.

And...so what?

If I looked only inward, I'd say that the amount of pain and discomfort are toweringly tragic, my own personal epic disaster.

However...I read. A lot. And looking out into the world, I'm finding that having to face pain and the prospect of premature death really aren't that big a deal. You look at the history of any war, any country trapped by despotism and grinding poverty, and you being to think:

"I'm one of the luckiest people around."

I have a wonderful wife and home, and a lot of delightful 'rescue' dogs whose care gives my days physical activity and spiritual meaning. I''ve got the opportunity to try to build a business doing what I love, aircraft welding and sheet-metal.

I've got a published novel, and five book signings coming up in the next month. AND two more finished novels, AND three more in process.

I can afford the pain meds that make work possible, and the cigars that keep the nausea away. (And I don't live in California, where smoking cigars is a capital offense.)

The more I write a list of the positive, the longer I can make it.

I won't say that I wanted this. But I accept it, and in this acceptance will enjoy the good things in my life. Not because I'm desperate to get every scrap of joy out of them, but because life's a choice.

And I choose life.


  1. My personal opinion of medical treatment: often you're better off without it. Medical treatment can stress and exhaust your body, when it needs to be allowed to heal itself.
    Nourish your body, get some rest, keep writing. Invest in a course of acupuncture or deep tissue massage to get your system back in balance.
    [B vitamins; vitamin D/sunshine; mineral water/sea or rock salt instead of iodized.]
    Just my 2 cents.
    God bless.

    1. I agree with your take on medical treatment, Marion. I take enough painkillers - and only just enough - to allow me to work in severe, but not debilitating pain.

      Some doctors have suggested different categories of drugs that might be more effective in controlling pain, but will take away initiative, and make me feel 'not quite like myself'.

      No thanks. This experience has been sent my way for a reason - I have to believe that - and it's my responsibility to carry the burden with grace and dignity. The only way to do that is to really experience it - not run from it.

      I do take the Bs, have a GREAT tan, and use sea salt. Accupuncture's a bit pricey, but I meditate. I figure that God won't mind the odd "Om Mani Padme Ommm".

  2. My goal on January 1 of this year was to live as though I had been given only a year (think Queen Latifah's "The Last Holiday"). I really don't know how long I have been given as I haven't had an exam in 10 years - for similar reasons as you mentioned - but I think it's important to get on with it and choose to live, really live, and do all the things I was created to do.

    Aside from being aghast at your diagnosis and knowing how hard it must be for you living with the unknown, I thoroughly enjoyed this post. Rejoicing that God has given me a thankful heart for an extended period of time these past few weeks - may he do the same for you and continue to grant you peace.

  3. Cherry...thank you. I hope you'll be granted a long, long time before it becomes an issue in your life!

    Neither the diagnosis, nor the effect are particularly enjoyable...and yet...so much has happened in this period of time that falls on the 'good' side of the ledger, that even if I could go back and erase the cause, I'm not sure I would. I couldn't bear rejecting the positive things, and sending them away into Limbo.

    Like the two puppies who were hours away from execution, and who now sleep ten feet from me. If I'd been well I would not have been where they were being offered for their last try at adoption.

    Like the chance my wife has had to re-enter the workforce, and find a pride in herself and her ability that she'd thought lost.

    Like realizing the ultimate need to throw myself on God's mercy...that even if he can't save me, he'll catch me when I fall.

    Refuse those blessings? No. I'll live in hope, and take what comes.