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I have a personal story I would like to share.


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I have a personal story I would like to share.


I know a few people who are struggling in their lives right now and hopefully this might give them some inspiration. At the very least, it is a story I have only told a few people.


A few years ago I, made a trip with my mother back home to central Illinois. Might aunt had fallen ill to diabetes and mental illness. We thought that she might possibly lose her leg and with her mental state we were unsure as to whether she would ever return home to her daughter and son. After being there for several weeks she had been moved to a nursing home where she was to be cared for and rehabilitated physically since her legs had gotten into such bad shape. Fortunately she was able to keep both of her legs, but it became obvious she was going to be stuck in the nursing home for quite some time.


I stayed to care for my cousins while my mom returned home and made trips back up to Illinois every couple of weeks to assist and handle the legal issues. This situation had caused quite a bit of turmoil in the family for reasons I won’t get into here. After approximately 3 months my aunt was able to return home but would need continued assistance for some time. I had found work and was working full time and helping care for my aunt and my cousins.


I had suffered from a very personal and painful issue that would require surgery. Once my mother and I had gotten my aunt and her family somewhat stable again, I sought medical help through the VA. Surgery was scheduled.


I went to the Danville VA medical center and had the surgery. As I anticipated the recovery was the most painful thing I had ever experienced in my life. I have had several surgeries and broken bones in my life but I had never experienced pain quite like this.

Approximately five days after surgery, my aunt came to my room at about 8:30 in the morning, while I was sound asleep, and told me there was a nurse from the VA medical center in Danville on the phone for me. I was a bit dumbfounded as to why on earth this nurse was calling me so early in the morning.


I answered the phone and after the usual verification to insure that he was actually speaking to me and not someone else, I was informed that my biopsy had come back positive for cancer. Cancer. At 8:30 in the morning. Cancer. Hell I didn’t even know they were even doing a biopsy.

It took about 3 weeks to recover from my surgery. And once I was healthy enough to return to the hospital, a close friend of mine drove me the 3 hour trip to Danville where I spoke with the doctor to confirm the diagnosis and find out what exactly to expect and what the treatment plan was going to be.


The first thing was that I was going to have to go through surgery AGAIN. Not something that I was exactly looking forward to because, as I said, the recovery was beyond any pain that I had ever experienced.


I was told that depending on what happened with the surgery that I may have to go through chemo and possibly radiation treatment. Staying in central Illinois was not an option because going through surgery a second time was going to require someone to help me through the recovery process again and my mother had already used up about all the free time that her employer would allow. Not to mention, she lives about 15 minutes from the VAMC in Memphis. If I had to go through chemo, in Illinois I would have to cross state line to Indianapolis which would have been about 5 to 6 hours round trip and I just knew that I couldn’t do that.


I returned and got set up to have surgery on Christmas Eve 4 years ago.

During one of the visits to the surgery center, where I was examined and everything was set up, I finally broke down. I had not shed a single tear or had even one moment of self pity prior to this moment. Even then, I wasn’t worried about the cancer. I figured all I could do was follow the advice of my doctors and hope for the best and if the cancer was going to kill me, then that is what it was going to do and all I could do was try to fight and survive as long as I could. I broke down because I knew what the recovery was like the first time and I just didn’t know if I had the strength to suffer that kind of pain again.


After my appointment that morning my mother had decided we should go to the Ronald McDonald house here in Memphis. She had made a somewhat large donation through the rock 103 telethon, <impressive for someone on limited income>. The radio station offers gifts for donations of various dollar amounts and the gifts were to be picked up at the Ronald McDonald house.


So, we go over there and I was actually dreading it because I wasn’t sure how I would react to seeing these young people there who were truly fighting for their little lives on a day when I was so emotionally weak.


We entered the house and went to receptionist desk where my mother told them who she was and handled her business. I being one of short attention span began to look around and noticed a kitchen and dining area off to the side. I noticed what appeared to be children’s artwork on the walls. I walked over to get a closer look and what I saw was something that touched me so deeply that I am ashamed to say that I have lost sight of this a time or two since.


It wasn’t artwork at all per se. it seems that when a child comes to the Ronald McDonald house, they put their left hand print on a piece of paper with their name date and diagnosis. If they beat their cancer they then made the right hand print. I stood before this wall of tiny hands for quite some time taking it in. two hand prints, diagnosis date, diagnosis, Childs name, remission date. I stood there feeling a bit more hopeful as I saw all these tiny hands on the wall. Their ages ranged from very young, 3 years old or so, to mid teens. All of them had been there and spent time in this very place I was standing, and they had all recovered from the greatest threat a child should never have to face.




I turned around and saw the wall directly behind me. Handprints covering the entire wall. Only this time, there was only one hand print. I felt a cold chill as I turned to approach the wall knowing full well why there was only one handprint on those pieces of paper. One left hand print, Childs name, diagnosis, diagnosis date…. Date the child had passed. As much as I tried to fight it, the tears welled up in my eyes much like they are right now just writing this. I could not hold it back. I openly sobbed as I placed my hand on several of those pieces of paper. Such tiny little hands. Tiny little hands of warriors who had fought a battle much greater than mine and had lost. I sobbed both from sorrow and shame. Sorrow for little lives cut short. Shame from being so emotional earlier that day from fear of pain. I became resolved that day that no matter what, I was to go through in this life, I would no longer feel sorry for myself. At times I have lost sight of this.

Tonight I read a story of a girls fight with brain cancer and it brought back a flood of memories for me. I felt inspired from her story to tell you mine. My story pales in comparison to this young lady who lost her life not quite a year ago at 11 years old.


However, I felt a need to tell this story because many of you, my friends, have children. Children who are healthy. We sometimes take these things for granted as we struggle with the pressures of life.


I ask you to stop for a few minutes every day and just hug and hold your child. Feel the warmth of their bodies, the rhythms of their breathing and the pitter patter of their little hearts. Don’t take for granted one second of any day just how lucky you are to have a healthy child. There are far too many parents who have had to face a horror that you and I can only begin to imagine.


Thank you for reading this and I hope that it somehow might inspire you to remember the things that you may take for granted every day.


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Thank you for sharing that. Very powerful. I can't imagine seeing children fighting that fight. I lost a dear friend to cancer yesterday, but he was old and ready. I met a guy at my bar today, who had come back to island to bury his 38 yo sister for cancer. He lost his dad to violence at a youg age and his mother to cancer years later.


Life is hard and the world can be cruel. It's always great to hear a story of strength and compassion.


Thank you.

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Wow man, great story, thank you for sharing.  I could feel the goosebumps on my back as I read it.


I often wonder how fleeting life can be-- I lost a very close friend to cancer when I was 10 years old.  Kids are really resilient, so it was obviously difficult for his friends but we moved on with our lives and growing up.  Much later in life, it really dawned on my how difficult that year must've been for everyone involved.  There are still moments from the very end that sit with me, but I can't imagine what it was like for his parents to bring someone into this world, raise a wonderful 10-year-old boy and then have to bury somebody who you thought would be burying you. 


Life can be incredibly fleeting and I am probably more guilty than most about moping about minutae that is ultimately meaningless.  I just read an article about a guy in Michigan who died because a palette of ceramic tile fell on him at the hardware store.


I'm glad to hear you're doing well man, and thank you again for sharing.

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thank you all very much for your kind words. yes i am fine now as the second surgery was successful. i still have one more year before they determine im in the clear, but i have no reason to believe that i have anything to worry about.

once again thank you for your kind words

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