In my work, I am fortunate to meet inspiring people every day and I find that every encounter leaves me with a “take away”. Whether it’s something simple, or something more profound, I believe we are meant to learn from each other and our unique experiences. Alex Ginty says this is why she is so passionate about telling the story of her cancer journey: so others can get the lessons without having the cancer.
Recently, we received news from one of our dedicated board members that her father was diagnosed with cancer. Despite being told by doctors that his cancer is terminal, he is as determined as ever to live life to the fullest and put every effort into the fight against cancer. He has agreed to share his profound insights with all of us so that we may learn from his situation and look at life a little differently. Here is a letter he has written recently to the many friends and family inquiring about his wellbeing. May you be as inspired by his words as I am.
Dearest friends and family,
So the latest update. I am reminded of the film Forrest Gump, in which Tom Hanks says, “My momma always said, ‘Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get’.” After much debate amongst the experts the conclusion is I have terminal cancer.
I am seeing the oncologist on Tuesday next week. It turns out that chemo is kind of useless. Why is it offered? As one doctor said, “people want you to do something!” I am going just to hear what he has to say. If I hear something fantastic then okay we will consider, but it is doubtful. Today Marion, Peter and I are off to see a doctor who specializes in helping strengthen your own immune system. Can’t hurt right?
So where exactly does that leave me? Turns out that there is a whole study on people who were given six months or less to live. A percentage have eradicated their cancer altogether or managed to control it for years. Just so. No medicine or treatments, just their will. I intend to give it a go. If I am right and if what everybody keeps telling me is right, then I can beat this.
I intend to live my life the same way as I have always lived it. A few changes; I will stop worrying about what might happen. The other night I ate oysters and Marion said, “Gosh you haven’t eaten oysters for such a long time – how come?” to which I replied, “I didn’t want to get sick!” We all laughed.
I certainly will not get involved in other people’s problems unless I am specifically asked. You know we feel we have to rush in with an opinion to help them see their foolish ways. I have learned that most people enjoy their problems because they don’t do anything about it, they just complain. I heard the other day of a young woman who has become ill because of the fact that her basement is being altered. She got hives and headaches. I wonder what I should get when considering my situation?
I have to see every day as an opportunity to love my kids, my wife, my extended family. There is no room for petty, trivial arguments that consume our daily lives. There is no refund on the last twenty-five years so I have to live the next years with an openness, a balance and with enjoyment. I will not look at the weather and complain, because the alternative is not to look at the weather at all. I will not shout at the traffic anymore, or get impatient because the fool (see there I go again) drives too slow or too fast.
People often ask if you had six months to live, what would you change? Too late then! Perhaps you should realize that you have a life to live now and that every day is important. Why wait until you realize what you have lost before you start to appreciate what you have?
What can you do? Nothing! You can just be as normal as you always have. Your genuine warmth and words of support have been a great comfort to me. Some people have said, “We are all terminal!” and that’s where the box of chocolates comes in. I am sure they are just trying to say something which is helpful. I am sure we are all terminal only not everyone faces a predicted expired date. You can’t say anything that changes my situation. You can just be there like you always have.
I am quite content. I really am. I feel very calm and I will fight on not because I suddenly discovered the need to fight. I have always been a fighter. I have always had an opinion. I will now use that argumentative strength and opinion for me.