Hard to believe less than a year ago I thought Multiple Myloma was a typo. When people said it I thought they had multiple cases of melanoma. Now I know better. Now I know this is a cancer that eats the body from the core out. Now I am acquainted with 2 who have run out of time and 3 who are still fighting this horrible cancer.
Todd is one of the 3 still fighting. I was lucky to be able to hear him speak about his battle, the support from his co-workers at Western Theological Seminary, and the love his family shares for each other. While the stem cell transplant went well, Todd knows and talked about the fact that there is a remission for this cancer but no cure. “My biggest ongoing symptoms are fatigue, and an immune system that continues to be compromised (both from the transplant and the ongoing chemo). I’m so thankful to God to be alive, to be with my family, and to be working, even though the future is less certain than I would like.”
I know logically that my future is no more certain than Todd’s. I could be gone tomorrow. But for me it is abstract and for Todd it is right there everyday. As I road with his flag I wished/prayed that some day Todd can think of his future in an abstract way. In the mean time I will try harder to live my life in the moment like Todd is now
Tammy is a breast cancer survivor whom I have never met. My friend Dave asked me to do a flag for her and gave me a link to her blog. Wow! What a roller coaster Tammy has been through in the last 6 months. Shen went from having a lump that was “just watched” for years to a breast cancer diagnosis this past December, 1st surgery in January, plan for prevention in February, BRCA-2 (Angelina Jolie) confirmation in March, ovaries removed on April 11, to today (April 17) Tammy is having a bilateral mastectomy.
While I am complaining about the cold weather this spring which make my biking a little uncomfortable, Tammy is going through all this. And her journal yesterday was mostly about the concern for her students and the mix up with her substitute teacher. I felt justified last night complaining about the cold and wind (We had 2″ of snow!) Now I just feel like a whine bag.
If you have a chance, visit Tammy’s blog. www.mcgowantj.wordpress.com If you know someone wondering about BRCA-1, BRCA-2, or breast cancer in general, she does a pretty good job putting it all in normal peoples terms. In the mean time I will quit complaining and get back to riding. 50 degrees, wind, and rain does not seem so bad compared to what Tammy is going through
This coming summer will mark the 2 year anniversary of Mick’s death. Last fall just as my bicycling season was coming to an end his brother asked if I would do a flag for Mick. As he asked he gave me a letter written by a friend of the family. The thesis of the letter was, “I have fulfillment in my private and professional life as a direct result of the 3 life lessons Mick taught me when we were kids.”
1. We need to embrace activities in our lives that provide us joy. Mick’s only mode of transportation was a bicycle. He road it everywhere and it was always fun for him. It was not a job or a competition but he always road as fast as he could. Just because he could.
2. It is not how you express yourself in victory that makes you a good sport; it’s how you make your opponent feel in his defeat that defines a champion. Mick was an avid basketball player his entire life and his favorite game was HORSE. He rarely lost but even the kids who played him to beat the “special ed” kid came back as friendly competitors after he smoked them.
3. A positive attitude is the single greatest investment a person can make to improve their standard of living. Mick was their when this friend’s Dad died and said “It will be alright.” He was there again when this friend started chemotherapy and said, “You will get better.” In both cases not only was Mick right but was the only person who was credible.
I have heard that people die like the lived. I don’t know if that is true everywhere, but it was with Mick. He never showed any signs that there was anything wrong. He continued to ride his bike and play basketball and bless everyone he came in contact with until his “heart attack”. Yes Mick died of a heart attack but during the autopsy it was discovered that Mick’s entire chest cavity was nothing but cancer. There were no organs that were not affected! Mick showed no sign of any pain.
There are some who might say that Mick could not communicate like most of us can. These people may be correct. I, however, choose to believe that God blessed Mick in death the way he blessed so many others while he was alive. (And is still blessing people like me 2 years later.)