Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Cancer Brings Clarity

Much of the content of this blog has been devoted to the changes that cancer has brought to my life. Many of them bad, to be sure, but many good things too. One good thing I keep talking about is the change in perspective that it's brought about. My new friend Robert Cannady put it perfectly yesterday. He said, "I am grateful for the clarity that cancer has brought to my life." That's the word. Clarity. Cancer brings clarity. I want to talk about that in this post. But first, I should update you.

Since my last post, things have gotten better. My last post was written on Friday, the day after I learned that I had fought a losing battle to keep Medicaid coverage. A month of turmoil for no result. But in a comment on my last post, the aforementioned Robert Cannady reminded me that maybe my struggle wasn't just about me. Maybe my telling the world about it (which is what I do these days) will help someone else. I hope that's true.

Saturday was just as bad as Friday for me, emotionally speaking. But Sunday morning, it seemed that the clouds parted. I felt much better. My wife and I went to church, and that did me a world of good. I can't tell you how much more meaningful church is for me now than it used to be, back when church was a gig. Now that I'm no longer responsible for making sure the service goes smoothly, and I don't have to learn any music or attend any rehearsals, sound checks, or staff meetings, I can just take it all in, and it's wonderful. It's tonic for the soul.

But my mood had improved before I even got to church. I attribute the change to two things. First, I have many people praying for me. As I've said several times before in this blog, for the first time in my life, I can feel people's prayers. I've heard people say that about themselves many times, but I've never understood it until recently. When that many people are praying for you every day (hundreds in my case, maybe more, all over the world) it's hard to stay in a funk.

But it's also true that I've never been able to stay in a bad mood for long. That's the other thing I attribute the change to. The upbeat, basically happy nature that I've been blessed to have all my life. When I took the Mood Cure test back in April, while I was in the throes of Lupron induced mood swings and anger issues, I scored high in the "Under A Dark Cloud" category. I've never been an Under A Dark Cloud type of person until Lupron took over my life. The 5-HTP supplement that I began taking at the behest of one of my best friends changed that, for the most part. It took a month of frustration and defeat to bring it back for a few days. But thank God, it's gone now.

I enrolled in an insurance plan Monday. It goes into effect July 1st. Our premiums are very low, thanks to a generous tax credit. My appointment with my oncologist will be rescheduled for sometime in July. Thanks to the generosity of friends, I don't have to worry about paying towards the deductible, at least for now. Life is good.

But as I sit here and write about the good things in my life, I can't help but think of loved ones who are going through much worse things than I am, at least for today. I think of one friend who I took to the emergency room yesterday, suddenly and unexpectedly. She had surgery last night. I can't stop praying for her. I think of another who was here recording last night, and as soon as she left, went to check on her mom who is in the hospital again. She's been praying for me for months, and I for her family.

In both cases, we were together for musical reasons. For work. But friendship took over when it counted. Because cancer brings clarity. Things become very clear when you get hit by God's 2 by 4. The main thing that's been made clear to me by this calamity is the simple and obvious fact that the people in my life are what's really important. I didn't get that when I was the guy who only cared about myself and my music. That's why I wouldn't change my diagnosis, even if I could. If not for cancer, I'd still be that guy.

If not for cancer, I would never have been at my friend's house yesterday, and would not have been available to take anyone to the ER.

If not for cancer, I wouldn't be enjoying church as much as I am. I wouldn't be praying for my friends like I am. Cancer brings clarity. 

I'm thankful that I was able to escape the dark cloud I was under this past weekend. I'm thankful that I have insurance, and that I'll be able to see my doctor soon.

I'm thankful that I was able to help someone today. Someone I care for very much. I'm thankful for the friend who came to sing with my wife and me for a recording yesterday, and for the time we were able to share.

I'm thankful that these posts are helpful to people. It means more than I can express when someone tells me that something I wrote helped them in some way.

But to paraphrase Robert, I'm really thankful for the clarity that cancer has brought to my life. I'm thankful to finally be able to see what's right in front of me. What's really important. That's what matters. None of the rest of it happens without that.

Life has changed for me in so many ways. Every cancer brother and sister I have out there can attest to this in their own lives. The old things have passed away, and behold, all things have become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Things are clearer to me than they've ever been before. Cancer brings clarity. #waroncancer

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