Saturday, March 1, 2008

Who I turned to and What I fear

Who do you turn to after being diagnosed and what do you fear the most? Perhaps better questions are, what all do you fear and who is there to turn to? This is a biggie, is it not? Well, in my case the answer is surprisingly simple. I feared everything and had no idea as to whom to turn to at all! After you come to terms with the awful facts of your cancer, it all sinks in, you really do not know the answer to much of anything. But I can share what I found out. The answers surprised me, matter of fact I was astounded! The really cool thing is, you do not really have to search for them, they will reveal themselves to you when you are ready to do so.

The hardest thing for me was telling my family and those close to me. Oral Cancer only has a 50 % survival rate within the first five years of diagnosis. Not to good, is it? Totally and completely Freaked me out! But you muster up what you must, tell your family and friends what is going on and what the latest news is. It is said that you find out who your true friends are when the chips are down. Little did I know just how many I had. My family was all supportive of coarse which was to be expected. What I never considered is how much it affected them. They stood by my wishes and allowed me the time to digest.

This is when I found just how lucky I was to have the children I do. Raising children can at times be a thankless job. Little do you know just how much they listen. They of coarse were devastated with the news, yet wanted to stay strong for the old man. I could see that it bothered them a lot. Yet they did their best not to let on to that fact. They would do anything to make it all better and just go away. I find myself being strong for them, attempting teach them one more lesson, the lesson of overcoming life's hardships with grace and dignity.

The one person who I have been with for the past 5 years, I am not sure she knew what to say or do. Though being through similar circumstance 13 years ago, it was not until about 2 weeks later, she said one thing that really meant a lot to me. "I wish you did not have to go through any of this." She told me of how she felt when the Doctors gave her a very unfavorable prognosis. She has been very supportive and does whatever she can. Little did she know, it was her story that was laying the ground work for my soon to be recovery.

My co-workers were and are Awesome. Each of them sincerely ask how I am and how treatments are going. The management has been so understanding and unbelievably condoning with my work schedule. They were at one point what one would come to expect. They soon shined above and beyond that. It was more than just a co-worker who had been afflicted with a disease, it was as if it were a member of family. I am very thankful for all they have done.

After feeling like there was no end to this horror, being afraid of what may come, feeling alone and in complete despair, there was that one conversation that made it all come together. It was not the preacher, not the many Doctors I have talked to nor many of friends. It was one family member who had been through a different yet devastating cancer 18 years ago. It was 18 years ago he was told he had only 6 months to live at best. He made the decision then, that he was not going to allow this to beat him. After sharing things with me that he has never shared with anyone before, he taught me that the Docs do about 10 percent of the work. The other 90 percent is in our mind. You can either will yourself to die, or will yourself to LIVE! He was no doubt, living proof of just that. It was now I realized and reflected back on what ground work had been laid previously and was inspired to do the same.

Around the world people have prayed for me and thought of me. Individuals, Churches, Prayer Teams of those I know not. I appreciated this to no end. I can not express those who have shown kindness, had me and my family in their thoughts and truly expressed their generosity. In every situation there is one or two things or persons who finally, is able to show you a reality that seems plausible. Offering a ray of hope out of a tunnel of despair. It was these people that put me on the track to true recovery.

So who do you turn to? Where is the support system you yearn for? Look around you. They are all right there. They are just waiting for you to be willing to accept their help. It is the realization of the support I have in my entire family, my co-workers and friends from around the world, I have no doubt I shall fully recover and become a survivor of oral cancer rather a victim of despair.