Photo by Darcy McCarty (courtesy of Flickr and Creative Commons)
When I started this journey with my wife I had only one mental model of what victory over cancer meant. Ideally, of course, it meant remission with no recurrence.
With time and as I learned more about cancer, some through books and some through talking with people and hearing and reading of their stories, I came to realize that there are different ways of beating this illness.
My conversion started by hearing a story by Dr. Patrick Quillen on a CD which accompanies his book, Beating Cancer with Nutrition (book with CD). Dr. Quillen was VP of Nutrtition for Cancer Centers of America for ten years.
He told the story of a lady he met that was diagnosed with cancer and given three months to live. These kinds of predictions can be wrong, as has been proven over and over again, but you have to factor them into your life plans despite that fact.
She took treatment and altered her lifestyle and diet. Her condition began to improve to the point that the illness went into remission. She and her husband decided to travel. They spent three years driving around the country seeing sites and visiting friends and family. Not knowing what the future held she was getting closure. After three years the cancer returned and took her.
Some might look at her story and say she was defeated by her illness. In one sense. But there are other–and I think better–ways to look at it.
Doctor Quillen’s point at the end of the story was that there are many ways to beat cancer.
If my wife were given three months to live I would look on every day past that three months as a little victory, a little gift from God. By that definition that lady was given over a thousand victories–over a thousand precious gifts.
Some might look on this as playing little semantic games–just playing with words and definitions.
Maybe. But if that’s what it takes to face each new day with a little lighter burden on such a long and difficult journey, so what?
Life is precious. We’re in a constant daily unseen battle with nature through trillions of bacteria in and around us trying to return us to dust. If it weren’t for our immune system they would succeed very quickly.
If one of your beloved members of your family were on their death-bed and you were given the option by the doctor of one more day of life or to end it now, most of us would choose one more day to be with them.
Based on what I’ve learned about cancer and given that my wife is stage 4 and her body is seeded with cancer cells, it may take her some day. But we’re doing what we can with diet and lifestyle and conventional treatment to win another day, another month or one more year of life. Each one a little victory and a gift from God for which we’re grateful.