Eight years ago today, On May 6th, 2003, I sat in Dr. Pate’s office waiting for him to come in and tell me, “the little lump is nothing, go home and don’t worry about it.” I was SO sure that those were going to be his words, that I had told Lea to just drop me off for the appointment and she could go run errands. I didn’t feel I even needed her there. Those words from Dr. Pate never came. Instead I remember vividly him saying, “You have cancer! But you’re young and healthy; you should be able to beat this thing.” Everything from that point on was a blur. I wasn’t sure what shocked me more, the “You have cancer” part or the “You SHOULD be able to beat this thing.”
Dr. Pate told me to go check at the hospital because the first of two surgeries would be the next morning. A few moments later I stepped outside and called Lea. Not a pleasant phone call. Within the next two weeks I would have two surgeries. One of the surgeries was a major surgery so I spent the rest of the summer trying to recover from being gutted like a fish.
I’m not looking for sympathy today, I’m simply reminding myself of some things that I learned from that hard summer. Simple things, but things that are too easy to forget. I learned things like…
- I’m not indestructible. I’m not guaranteed 30 more years … 3 more years or 3 minutes. Each and every day is a gift so make the most of every day.
- It’s impossible to have any sort of self-dignity in a hospital gown.
- I learned that God still answers prayers.
- I learned that it was okay to be scared and even ask God, “Why?”
- I’m blessed to have friends and family that surround me with support and love.
- I learned I have an amazing wife and the care-givers of cancer patients don’t get near the credit they deserve. I remember asking Lea as I lay in the hospital, “Are you heading back to Childress today to take care of the boys?” and her response was, “No sir, they are taken care of. You are my husband and I am your wife and I’m not going anywhere!”
- I learned that real love, not the stuff you see in the movies or on soap operas, is my wife telling me I look “great” to her, even when I was pale, skinny, sick, throwing up and too weak to do a thing.
Today I celebrate 8 years … and I’m reminded once again just how blessed I am.