Recently, I received some very bad news about a friend. A year ago, she was diagnosed with lung cancer. She never smoked and was very physically active, religious, positive personality and never even used a curse word.
I called her every day as she went through surgery and chemo.
It looked like all was good. But it wasn’t, and it isn’t.
This cancer is aggressive, and spread even in the soup of strong chemotherapy. Now they’ve told her they cannot operate. She will have radiation every day for seven weeks and then be on chemo daily for the rest of her life.
Then they told her what her life would be like: the esophagus is probably going to be severely impacted, she’ll experience nausea, acne, and on and on.
She told me she was going to fight and win this and just tolerate whatever comes.
I’m going to be calling her every day again.
I left the conversation feeling deeply sick to my stomach. I had to go do a buoy race in my sailboat. I got to the boat later than usual, and felt bad doing something so frivolous when my friend may be dying.
We started the race, and not one of the seven of us onboard noticed the course we were supposed to take. That meant we had no idea (in the midst of a dozen possible combinations) where we were going. But it was a beautiful, cool night with a gentle breeze with some puffs to keep the boat going.
I didn’t care we didn’t know where we were going. Usually, I would be pretty annoyed we were competing with that kind of stupid handicap.
It was something my friend had said: “I think everybody should have a ‘bucket list,’” meaning we should live each day fully, assuming that is the only day we have left.
I was out on the ocean among friends, in the cool of the early evening, sailing along in the rolling ocean. What a blessing. I asked the crew to vote each time we rounded a buoy as to what the next one probably was. We guessed wrong, and went from first place to last place as we went further out to sea toward a buoy we weren’t supposed to go around. I said to the crew “It doesn’t matter….we know we were first, and now we’re having a beautiful sail out here almost alone, while getting in more practice. All is good.”
My tactician, who was nervous that he would get in trouble for forgetting to note the course, had to be calmed down. I told him “What does it really matter? What matters is that we’re all having a great time and actually doing a great job.” And even though I’m a “Type A” personality, I meant it.
I don’t think I’ve had a more satisfying finish to a buoy race….ever.
Life is for the living and should be lived with relish. When people are fighting for their lives, it points out how precious life is, so no one should waste any of it.
And so many people do waste it by holding grudges, not letting go of past hurts, holding themselves back from happiness because of anger or fears, letting disappointments and frustrations consume them, using drugs, being drunk, sitting in front of a TV or computer screen playing games alone, and more.
I still feel sick to my gut that someone so kind and sweet is facing this cancer horror. I am in awe of her attitude, and grateful for the reminder.
Here she is, facing sickness and pain every day, yet she says she wakes up every day grateful for another day.
We should not all wait for cancer in order to do the same thing.