As I opened the curtains this morning (July 19) I could see fog disappearing in the field in front of me. That was a strange sight for the middle of July. The sky was cloudless and it was a beautiful morning. I have learned to really appreciate each new morning as I open my curtain to a new day.
Maybe it’s because each day has become more precious to me. Three years ago, when my wife was discovered with stage four liver cancer, we were not offered much hope. She asked how long. They said without chemo six weeks, with chemo maybe 18 months. It’s been almost three years now. She has survived past all their expectations.
No, it’s not been an easy road. Chemo is a poison and while it kills cancer cells, it also kills other cells, good ones in the body. The cancer keeps on changing as it fights off the effects of chemo. We have experienced three major chemo changes as the cancer adapts to the chemo. You see, it wants to live also.
So here we are, but the biggest psychological blow was the news that our daughter-in-law was also diagnosed with liver cancer. She is at Cleveland receiving chemo and radiation right now. She may also be a candidate for a liver transplant. My wife and I are old, we have come to expect changes, but when you see cancer attack the young, then you realize that life is precious at all ages.
If the sight of a new, beautiful morning is especially meaningful, well now you know part of the reason why. I paint and teach painting so others can also see the beauty of each day as it comes, one by one. I see reality a little different now. I didn’t always have such an appreciation for each moment. I do now. As for my wife’s new chemo treatment, the reaction really threw her so they are trying to figure out a new mixture, and we live in hope that the new mixture will be able to be used and help put off death one more day.
Life is a fight to live. The fight is on many levels. The physical seems all too obvious, but there is also the psychological which is very meaningful. The right attitude helps overcome many of the physical odds against you, then there is the spiritual aspect. This may be the strongest of them all. Here I have named three different aspects of fighting cancer but all three are actually one. We separate them so we can define it better and maybe understand it better. The real trouble is we don’t know for sure what cancer really is. So it is hard to fight effectively something that is so undefinable. Cancer is, as an example, the ISIS inside our bodies, a brutal force that kills indiscriminately the young and old.
Our first line of defense was not chemo, it was and still is prayer. We don’t seem to be able to define its power either. There is so much we don’t know yet. We think that science is the answer. In truth, science only opens us to the awareness of more questions.
We are living in a world of acute diversions. We need more than ever to focus on the realities of and in life. Each day is a gift, tomorrow, that is a complete unknown. Tomorrow is a hope, a hope that we will be here when tomorrow turns into today.
Harry Croghan is an artist, photographer, writer and teacher. He can be reached at 740-852-4906 or by e-mail at email@example.com.