No matter how much I try to ignore it, my life has changed…forever. I am no longer the healthy guy that doesn’t have to worry about being around sick people. I am no longer the guy that only goes to the doctor when he really feels sick and home remedies have failed. I have gone from seeing a primary care doctor maybe once a year to having a TEAM that I see and report to at least on a monthly basis.
The (hard to swallow) truth is, I will always be more susceptible to catching colds and viruses. My immune system has been compromised and will never be as strong as it once was. There is no cure for my Leukemia but I will go into remission. I can do things Herbal and dietary that will help strengthen my immune system and help keep me in remission, but I have 3 extra chromosomes, so my system has been re-wired and reacts differently than how it was originally designed to.
My Oncologist says that I need to have a “normal life” and his goal is to help me be able to physically return to that ‘normal life’ where I can go to work every day and not be disabled by my cancer treatments. Sounds simple and it’s a GREAT goal! Here I am, six months into a 12 month treatment program and struggling to string together more than a week of ‘normal’ activity! My brain says “GO” but my body says “NO”. It is so frustrating for someone who’s always been very active and social.
I have learned more then I’d ever dreamed (or cared to learn) about Cancer and bloodwork and all the medical terms that come with them. You might say it’s been a medical crash course born out of necessity. My wife has been my rock and my safe haven amid the storms, yet I still find myself neck deep in a struggle to accept my “new normal”.
I realize that if I’m too hard on myself I could fall into depression. I realize, too, that if I physically push myself too hard, I can wear myself out to the point I become sick(er). So it’s a balancing act of sorts. My focus needs to be on that balance and not worry about work and money and bills. For a type A personality, this isn’t easy!
If I look for the silver lining, my new ‘normal life’ includes some great new friends! My life has been enriched with a solid understanding of the key to life! We all bump around in life almost denying the fact that we all will die one day. It’s never pleasant to think about, but once you have a near death experience (I consider Cancer a near death experience) you live your life with the end in mind. Mortality slaps you in the face and you can’t possibly ignore it. But it doesn’t have to be a negative thing! “Live like you are dying” sings Tim McGraw. Are your priorities what they should be? Where is quality time with family and friends on that list? Being kind to strangers? Helping others?
Finding fault in others is easy. Looking for the good can be hard at first, but gets easy once you learn to focus. Keeping in mind we were created to be social creatures and not solitary individuals, is how you focus. Every interaction we have with each other has the potential to be a learning experience. My approach, or focus, is that I have something they need and vice-versa. Why would I want to tear that person apart? Maybe they are being rude to me because they are hurting? Maybe a kind smile and friendly word or two from me will be just what they need to help them out of a funk or depression. Maybe my criticism will push them over the edge into a depression, or worse. My mind needs to be open to giving and receiving.
With this in mind, I challenge you to this exercise:
1) Focus on only the positive for one day. No matter what happens stay positive and treat everyone you meet with kindness and compassion.
2) Do not utter any negative words, even to yourself when you are alone!
3) Do 1 random act of kindness without reward of any kind.
4) Make a list of what would be important to you if you only had a few days to live.
Email me with your thoughts, reactions or feelings after completing this challenge.