Having cancer has been great. Yes, I just said that having cancer has been great. Perhaps I could qualify that statement by saying that dying from cancer has been crappy, but living with it has been a genuine blessing.
I’ve felt better the past week or so, including this week when I’m typing this with a chemo bag hanging from my side, so it’s admittedly easier to recognize the positives that surround me. I even did five really terrible pushups this week, which is five more than I expected to do any time soon.
I wrote a column a few weeks ago titled “what about all the good parts of having cancer?” that was sort of a lighthearted look at stuff like weight loss and how people are nice when you’re sick, but I’ve come to realize that things in my life truly are better now than they were when I felt like I was healthy and in control of my life.
If someone were to look at my life from the outside it looks like a disaster. My house is a mess, it’s no longer getting renovated and the outside looks abandoned, when I drove my car for the first time in two months Sunday, I could barely see through the windshield from the filth from the tree it’s been parked under. I’m skinny and my clothes don’t fit right anymore, and I’m more broke now than ever.
The things I once paid too much attention to and cared about arguably too much are suffering, but it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that I’ve been surrounded by an overwhelming, uplifting – and constant – outpouring of support and love from the community, including from people I’ve never even met.
Every day my mailbox is brimming with cards and letters, some from frequent writers, that not only share their prayers and encouragements for me and my girlfriend Jamie, but also often include their own feelings and even Bible devotionals that never fail to inspire.
Jamie and I always prayed together regularly, but I hate to say we didn’t really read the Bible together outside of church, but when she reads these letters and devotionals to me it’s not uncommon for us to be wiping away tears, amazed at how perfectly timed the message was.
Throughout the entire time since I was diagnosed with cancer on April 27 I really have experienced what the Bible calls the peace that passes understanding. On that day my doctor told me he’d found cancer and it was “not good” and immediately sent me to a surgeon to schedule a feeding tube surgery, but as we drove away from the doctor’s office I wrote this in my phone: “This is bad news. But the good news is God loves me more than anything and anyone can and he will work this out for good, even if it means my long-term plans get canceled by a short-term life.”
But although it hasn’t been easy, it hasn’t been devastating. It just hasn’t. I don’t like not being about to do the things I’d planned and I never have liked being sickly or an assumed object of pity, but all things considered, living with cancer really has been a net blessing.
I don’t know what my future holds, but then again no one does. It’s a near certainty that someone who feels bad for my life being cut short will die before I do. Life is unpredictable but death isn’t optional. Prepare for it and don’t waste too much time on things that don’t matter once you’re gone.
By Dave Taylor