Thursday, July 06, 2006

An Unwanted Journey: Day 0226 - Leroy's Courage

"It takes courage to get through life. The courage of doctors and nurses who can work magic with their hands, the courage of those keeping a lonely vigil at the bedside of a loved one. The courage of the ill, fighting with everything they have, not just to cheat death, but to live."

- Leroy Sievers, My Cancer, Commentary: Funny the Things You Think About (February 16, 2006)

I've started subscribing to RSS feeds from my fellow travelers. The quotation above is from the very first entry I collected in my Newsgator for Outlook newly created folder, Cancer Blogs. If this commentary from Leroy is an indication of what I've been missing by avoiding blogs from other cancer fighters, then I can hardly wait to see what's in store.

Leroy talks about courage, about fighting, about cancer touching each and every one of us whether or not we have been diagnosed with cancer, about bearing the burdens thrust upon us by life, and how we are only given what we can truly bear.

Even more importantly, Leroy reminds us that the courage we discover inside ourselves as we deal with our own diagnosis must never eclipse the recognition of the courage of others affected by our personal battle.

This, too, is probably one of my blinds spots. Consumed by my own pain, weakness, insecurity, uncertainty and doubt, it has been all too easy to forget what this diagnosis has done to so many others who care for me. My wife, my sons, my mother and father, my brothers and sister, my aunts and uncles, my friends, and even my acquaintances - my diagnosis has required that they too face their own mortality. It has required that they reconsider life's priorities - either that or collapse into ignorance and neglect. It has required that they think, at least once in a while, about loss and fear, about guilt and blame, and the frailty of the human condition.

Then there are the doctors, nurses, hospital workers, patients and all others involved in the health care system. They have had to muster courage when dealing with me. One nurse especially comes to mind. I'll never forget her kindness and calm demeanour when I panicked in the hospital the day when I "bled out" while on blood thinners. Never having experienced anything like that before, I was almost out of control in fear. She helped me clean up, get back to bed, calm down and realize that what I had just experienced was something they could handle and that even I could face with more courage than I had thus far demonstrated.

So, Leroy, thank you for reminding me about courage - my own and that of those who care for me.

And finally, farewell to Hilde, who, after 10 years of facing cancer down with a courage I can only hope to emulate, said a final goodbye to her family and friends last Thursday.

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