Wednesday Warrior – Gary
It has been two years since I was diagnosed terminal with Angiosarcoma. I had a tumor removed from my right thigh February 13, 2012, it meandered to my lungs and I began chemo treatments every Monday to prolong my life; given 4 months to 2 years to live. After 8 weeks I had a CT scan to determine if this drug was working, if the sarcoma was shrinking. What the scan showed was the sarcoma had disappeared. That was May 29, 2012. My Oncologist told me he would like to treat me for 6 months if he could, I asked, “Do I get credit for time served?” I wrote on my Caring Bridge page every Monday after treatments. I wanted to share some of my thoughts that helped me through my journey.
As I reflect back on that time of uncertainty, I was certain about one thing, I was given a timeline to die. I was told to mark my calendar, for death is just around the corner. I was not immune to the fact that we all die, but when someone tells you to prepare, you awaken to the wonderfulness in life. I share this because when faced with the inevitable, I embraced it. I was bold in life, in my writings and in my thoughts. I had what others yearned for, knowledge. First, I knew where I was going after death, which is my choice, to follow Jesus Christ. Second, some people could not understand how happy I was with the new circumstances in my life. Third, my family was just that, family.
I want to share a few thoughts that sustained me. I was speaking with a good friend one day and something I said made him reply, “Keep fighting.” I explained to my friend that I indeed was not “fighting.” I believe that fighting consumes way too much energy. I went on to explain that this tumor, cancer, was like an uninvited house guest, one that moved in and decided to stay. If I gave it attention, it would make itself at home. If I did not acknowledge it, it would eventually leave. I found great humor all around me. Planning my funeral was one of the funniest experiences in my life. I chose a mortuary in my home town, which is in Kansas. Meeting with the “hereafter counselor” she was stumped when I mentioned I lived in Oklahoma, but we were in Kansas. I asked, “Do you not bury people from Oklahoma?” After getting her boss, he revealed to me that there was a transportation charge if I was out of town. I looked at my sister and said, “Just prop me up in the passenger’s seat, that way you can use the car pool lane.” I was handed a card, in the event of my death, please take me to this mortuary! I promised him the last thing before I go is to show that card to the last person I see.
Do not be turned off by my humor, but be inspired by the power of humor. Life is absurd, I know, because looking back on 2012, the best time of my life during that span was Monday’s, my chemo days. I was around real people. People from all walks of life but we all had one thing in common, life. I was inspired walking around the infusion center with my girlfriend, IV. If you are a cancer patient you know IV, she is skinny as a pole, has bags under her eyes, is somewhat of a drip, gets under my skin, but has a nice flow about her. She just loves to needle me. We hooked up every Monday.
But back at the office, everyone is caught up in the hectic maze of life. The clock awakens one to the headlines of the day, patience tested on a drive to a superficial sphere of colleagues. Our minds set on the bottom line or we might be the next in line; meetings, crises and the shallow hellos. When it’s off to the jam we call traffic, home to family that asks, “How was your day?” Feel free to substitute your life here, whether its work or school, some people who aren’t like us do not understand us, for they fear the secret we hold, cancer. Their ultimate fear is that we will share our secret with them.
It has been two years since IV and I dated. I hold fond memories of her and the doors she opened for me. I cannot explain why I am here today other than The Lord kept me here, maybe to write this as an encouragement to you and then I am done. I do not know. I do know that I was very careful when diagnosed with sarcoma, because if I died in a car accident, that would screw up the sarcoma statistics. Now I live for you, as an encouragement to embrace the time you have, to laugh all day, love all day, forgive all day. You are special and fortunate to be around all the special people in the world.
If you or a loved one has been impacted by sarcoma cancer, we encourage you to share your story. Sharing your story can be such an inspiration to others who are dealing with sarcoma in their own life and remind us all of the urgency to find better treatments in order to make an impact on the devastation that sarcoma cancer brings. Let your experiences help others become involved with raising awareness!