Sunday, April 8, 2012

Even after all of this time, seven months or so, I am still at times overcome with disbelief that this has happened. It is like sudden bursts of reality that wash over my conscientiousness. I usually stop and tell myself, “JT, we’ve been through this before, and you’ve accepted it already”. But that does little good – and that is okay because the bursts of shock are usually brief and while they stun me momentarily, they don’t remove all of the work I’ve done, accepting my situation.
Which isn’t to say, I move through my life these days, completely serine – stoic; like a Buddhist monk, enlightened to a sense of perfect well being. That is not me, in spite of the brevity I have been able to muster. The fact of the matter is, I want to live, and I tell my doctors, no matter what they tell me, I am not going to die. They usually smile, and carry on with their work respecting my wishes to remain totally optimistic – perhaps even foolishly. Those bursts of reality at times, bring me to my knees in prayer for God to save me; heal me and while I don’t believe God gave me this illness, I have no doubt He can take it away.
As I am sure it is with every cancer patient, my ability to conduct my daily affairs with a positive attitude and enough hope to not only put one foot in front of the other but to smile and laugh every day, is composed of two seemingly opposed fundamental ideas. FIRST and foremost, although the statistics are against me, I believe down in my bones that I could be one of the few to actually beat this illness. My prayers, Vespers, Kyrie Eleisons ( – all of my Praise and Thanksgivings include pleadings to God for me to achieve complete recovery. The belief that I have in this prayer-life is directly proportional to my sense of well being.
Secondly, if the cancer does come back, while I will have vast adjustments to make, and further acceptance to digest and nourish myself with, at this point I am living my life with the belief that the cancer will not return, or if it does, we can kill it again. So it is not so much that I am brave, but that I have hope and faith (some would say foolishly).
If my current life-plans don’t pan out, or in the case that I should need to adjust for a different possible outcome, I will do that when the time is more appropriate.
The unknown is a frightening thing to all of us – and not necessarily more so for those of us who have been diagnosed with cancer or other life-threatening illnesses. A human life is not an easy business; the fact that all of us have the knowledge of our own eventual demise seems like a cruel aspect of being human. But then it is not – for it is not that I am or that we are like ships at the mercy of stormy seas, tossed around with no power to affect our plights at all, but our sense of well being and the quality of our lives comes from our outlook of life – how we choose to perceive our predicaments. Do we live for the joyful moments, or do our attitudes succumb to the dangers inherent in every human existence? Our bodies will eventually succumb to those dangers. It is not only unnecessary for us to allow fear to rob us of the joys available to us, but if we live in constant fear of what bad things lurk around every corner then we are “dead people walking”. The day we meet God is out there somewhere for every one of us. That is one day, one moment. Meeting God will be a joyful experience beyond what I can imagine. But we also want to live. So let us remember, is not every day that we must die, yet some of us do exactly that.
Finally, it is not that I am completely without fear or doubt. I experience a little bit of both on a daily basis. But it is a process; a striving and even an average. Some days, I have to ask myself, did I spend most of my day with hope and faith or in fear and death? I have won the day if I can honestly say, even if just by a fraction, most of my time that day was spent in the positive.

The Apostle Paul said it best in one of the best passages in the Bible.

Philippians chapter 4
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.

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