Seven years ago today, I was an emotional wreck. I knew something was wrong. The thing I had dreaded and feared since my dad got sick and died a few years before was now a reality.
I didn’t have an official diagnosis yet, but I knew. A few weeks prior I had been at the Y, really pushing myself. What felt like a good workout quickly turned into a severe pain in my lower abdomen. As I was poking around trying to figure out what was wrong, my hand grazed something hard that shouldn’t be there. I immediately recognized what it was, but didn’t want to admit it to myself.
It took a couple of weeks of sleepless nights before I made an appointment to see the doctor. Even then, I was too afraid to bring it up, instead asking for something to help with my insomnia.
Finally, the Thursday night before Memorial Day weekend, it came to a head. I could no longer ignore it – I either had to face the truth, or it would kill me.
I don’t generally believe God speaks to us in an audible voice – at least I’ve never experienced that. But as I prepared to call my mom to let her know what was going on, I felt His presence in a way I haven’t before or since. If I could put words to that presence, it would be “Don’t worry – I am with you. We will get through this together.”
I won’t go through the whole ordeal again, as I’ve blogged extensively about it in the past. But I feel compelled to document where I am around my cancer anniversary every year. While there are other days I could celebrate – the last day of chemo, the first day my tumor markers dropped to the normal zone, the day I was given the all-clear by the oncologist – I choose to celebrate the anniversary of my diagnosis. It’s the day that changed my life permanently – I became a cancer patient, and eventually a cancer survivor.
Going through a serious illness has a way of bringing your life in laser-sharp focus. The week after my first round of chemo, I was at a neighbor’s pool (oblivious to the fact that chemo makes you much more likely to get sunburned… but I digress). As I was trying to relax and ignore the waves of nausea and heartburn, I was thinking about my life and what I wanted out of it. I always wanted to be a husband and a father, but at that moment it became my primary goal. As I am realizing more and more every day, life is short. But it’s too long to go through alone.
I think back to that day, and look at where I am now. Seven years later, I’m a couple of weeks away from celebrating my first Father’s Day. I am blessed with two of the most amazing girls one could ask for – my wonderful wife and my adorable daughter.
Life is good.