Lance Armstrong has a commercial airing in which he stares into the camera and says, “Remember me cancer? You made me who I am today?” That quote really hits home with me.
On May 6th of 2003, I sat in Dr. Pate’s office and he looked at me and said, “You have cancer. You’re young and healthy, you should be able to beat this thing.” So much of that day is still such a blur in my memory. The only things remember about that day were hearing the words, “It’s cancer.” And calling my wife to tell her.
It was SO unexpected. It was the last thing I expected the doctor to say. And it changed my life.
I had my first surgery later that week. Wanting to avoid chemotherapy, I instead opted to go with a 2nd major surgery two weeks after the first surgery. The second surgery required a one-week stay in the hospital.
As my 4 year anniversary date is here I thought about some lessons I’ve learned from cancer.
- I learned that my illness brought out so many friends I didn’t even know I had. I had over 250 cards sent to me (I still keep them in an old shoe box). Many from people and churches I didn’t even know. I was over whelmed with love and support.
- I learned that there are no “do-overs” in life, so you should make the most of every day.
- I learned all over again that my wife is an amazing woman, as she supported me through tough times.
- I learned that it’s impossible to have any sort of self-dignity in a hospital gown.
- 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.
- I learned that it was okay to be scared. And, that it was okay to ask God, “Why?”
- I learned that in 2003 God answered prayers and that prayer can change anything!
- “Remember me, cancer? My friends kicked your butt with prayer.”
So tomorrow when I celebrate my 4-year anniversary I’ll remember, cancer does change you in ways you cannot imagine or predict. It reminds me of what is really important in life: God, family & friends.