Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Wind At My Back

The weather has turned hot here in North Texas. We, once again, seemed to have jumped from winter directly into summer. With winds gusting out of the south, the temperatures are already hitting 100 degrees. These hot days have caused me to ride in the evening after dinner and early on Saturday morning to avoid riding in a convection oven.

This last Saturday morning, I could hear the wind blowing and see the tree tops swaying in the gust, as I got ready for my ride. Once I was out the door, I could feel the wind blowing against me as I headed out of the neighborhood. I was greeted with a strong gust of wind as I turned south and thought to myself, "This will not be a fun ride." The first half of the ride it seemed like I struggled up every little hill and fought the wind with each turn. I knew I had been struggling when I looked at my speedometer and it only read 12 mph; then I saw the arrow pointing up indicating that my average speed was increasing.

I finally made the turn to head back north, and I could feel the wind beginning to push me along. Picking up some speed, I reached for the shifter with my left hand and moved it to the right; the chain moved to the big ring and I began to pedal harder. Then suddenly, it was back. My legs and my breathing were in my pre-cancer rhythm. I started pushing the pedals harder as I shifted through the gears with my right hand. Picking up speed, I glanced at the speedometer, 20 mph, 22 mph.... How long and how hard could I push it?

Then I realized that this morning's ride was a perfect symbol for my last year. I had been riding against the wind and, at times, struggling to get over the hills. Now I am riding with the wind, pushing hard, and getting back into rhythm.

I looked back down just in time to see 25 mph. When I looked up, I realized that I was close to the intersection where I would make a right turn to head back home. I took a quick look to the left and saw no cars; as I pedaled through the turn, I looked down to see 23 mph displayed. With a smile on my face, I yelled at the cancer, "You will not win!"

After a drink of cool water, I began pushing the pedals toward home, and I laughed. It's good to feel the wind at my back.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Things Cancer Has Taught Me

I remember thinking when I was first diagnosed that I should not have lung cancer. Even one of the doctors said, "You should not have this, but you do." I have the memory of praying that God would use this as an opportunity for us to teach others about lung cancer and present us with those openings. If I could have lung cancer, then anyone could develop lung cancer. Little did I know at the time what cancer would teach me.

One thing that I have learned is to laugh every day, and when you think you are tired of laughing, laugh some more. There have been times that if I had not of laughed, I would have cried. The thing that has surprised me is how many openings the medical staffs give me for a joke. They just get use to saying things and just are not prepared for someone like me. For instance, at one of my blood specimen collections the tech said, "Today we need to get urine on you." To which I replied, "How about I put it in a cup?" Then there was the day I was being prepped for a CT scan. I lost count of the number of times I was asked if there was any metal in my body. One tech was being very serious in asking me questions and then asked, "Is there any metal in your body?" I replied, "Only if the aliens left something." She really tried to not laugh but finally gave up.

I have learned to cherish every moment of every day. Life has a different pace now. Gone is the rushing. I find myself taking time to look about and really see what is going on. Why do we race from place to place? Take time to enjoy where you are and who you are with. You will never have that moment in time again.

I have always believed in the Bible, but this experience has taught me that the Bible is more than just words on paper. The Bible is the very living, breathing word of God. I have seen the scriptures come alive daily.

One thing that has surprised me is the realization that everyone has a "cancer" in their life. Mine was physical, but others may be dealing with porn, gambling, alcohol, eating disorders, issues at work, financial issues, problems with a child or spouse. Everybody has something that, given time, will grow, and if left untreated, like cancer, will take your life. The great thing is that we have One who sits at the right hand of God ready to help us. I am thankful that He is there.