Doin’ Fine & Here’s Part 9 – of “The Sender” Similarities

On chapter 38’s page 194 “The Sender” writes in a letter “And I guess you grow up when you get cancer. . . Sometimes it’s God’s way of growing us up.”

Definitely. Cancer is no joke. You feel emotions & gain perspectives you’ve never had before. You experience an abundance of life well beyond your years. I grew up when I was 13 & underwent my first 3 rounds of chemotherapy. Growing up involves doing things you don’t want, but need, to do – like the plethora of unpleasant protocol associated with cancer treatment & also signing an advance directive with a living will on multiple occasions in case I died, even though I barely understood what the paperwork was that was being shoved in my face – as well as thinking about the important parts of life that truly matter:

including all of my different relationships with people & how I wanted to make them better relationships,

&

wanting to make each day a meaningful one – no longer flawed with conflicts now seen Clearer Than Ever Before as SO pointless & insignificant aka colossal time-wasters – with my very strongly renewed appreciation for the GIFT OF LIFE now that I had to fight so hard to keep mine.

I remember years ago feeling insulted thinking of the common line out in the world that says “If you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything,” because I felt like I had grown so much in wisdom despite not having my health. This line from the book is so true for every person: “But God will grow you up one way or the other and he seems to do it for his reasons, not ours.”

I’ve discovered firsthand that you never know how strong you are until you need to be. Had I known the extent of my multiple-years horrific cancer battle ahead of time, I never could’ve handled it. Too much! Referring to the little boy also battling cancer who became a friend of Charlie’s, “That little acorn needed to summon something inside of himself that only a cancer survivor can know. It’s a special sort of grit and faith and vision and tenacity.”

It’s unbelievable what people can handle when they need to. Like a line in the book, “It’s all about choosing despite how you feel” (“choosing” to . . . be positive rather than grumpy; be strong instead of weak; be a fighter & not give up, etc). With God & my family’s ceaseless loving encouragement & support, looking back I’m astounded at all the things I had the strength to endure throughout my 4 relapses with leukemia. Honestly, it’s hard for me to wrap my brain around the fact that I actually did it. And AT THE SAME TIME successfully graduated both high school & college. All the glory of those immense accomplishments goes straight to Our Powerful Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

#8 Entry in “The Sender” Similarities

 

My sickest years were my teenage years

In Chapter 31 on page 167, Charlie, looking at his little friend Max in very poor condition in the pediatric cancer ward, “remembered that for so long he’d been in exactly the same place. Tired, hazy, hurting, confused.”

Three memories of mine (relevant here despite some previously mentioned in posts long ago): 

1 – Although I was too sick to either open my eyes or respond, this two-word command sticks in my mind: “Breathe, Amy,” my family members, mostly my amazing Mom who never left my side, repeated over & over during 1 of my many stays during my teens in Intensive Care, trying to help me normalize my heart rate. . . 2 – Another time in ICU I managed to mumble that there was a school library book in my backpack that was due back at the library. Several days later, when I was much more alert & able to talk, I told my Mom there was a book in my backpack that needed to be returned, but she informed me I had already told her about it (when she then told my Dad who found the book right where I, in my hazy frail state, muttered it was, & he returned it). I was way too sick to remember that. (Years later I heard that my Mom had said, “Why won’t she stop thinking all the time & just rest?”)

3 – My Mom & older sister Sarah each gave me 1 of their hands to squeeze while I got a painful shot. Wow, did it sting A LOT! I was so sick I couldn’t even speak, though. Then I hear Sarah say, “I don’t think it was that bad. She didn’t squeeze my hand hard at all.” And I remember thinking, “Well of course I didn’t squeeze it hard, because I’m so weak!” But again, I was too ill to speak so my extremely kind albeit misinformed sister continued believing all was well.

(Lucky?) Seventh of “The Sender” Similarities

This piece resonates with me from Chapter 25’s closing paragraph: “Don’t waste your cancer. The world has opened up to you. Your heart has opened up to many other people because of your cancer.”

Wasting my cancer journey would be learning nothing from my illness experiences & going back to living the same way I did before entering what I call the “cancer world” – because it is a world like no other & few understand its meaning.

In 1 way, I hate cancer because of how it’s physically ruined my life. And, oh, it has. Walking with a cane. Suffering from dry eyes. And a cotton-dry mouth. A permanently extremely weakened immune system. Pathetically damaged joints. Weak thin bones. Minute energy. No balance. I can’t smile due to facial paralysis. I wish I could smile again, that makes me sad knowing I can’t.

In 1 way, though, I am indebted to cancer for the numerous life lessons fighting the disease has taught me:

Like living for the moment because the next can be wholly different. – This meant for me, completing schoolwork from high school & then college as soon as I could, because 1 hour during my cancer journey I could feel fine laying in my hospital bed writing an essay, but by the next hour I could be too nauseous to lift my head.

Or accepting people with no regard to their personal appearance. Having used a walker, wheelchair, 4-point cane, sported a bald head under a hat, been struck with facial paralysis, been so pale one guy at a church I used to attend asked me if I had to stay out of direct sunlight, seen children who don’t know me being obviously uncomfortable with the way I look – I now know firsthand, very well, what it’s like to look different than the norm & that Appearances Don’t Define A Person. In a nutshell, since appearances don’t define a person it’s beneficial to employ an acronym I came up with when you see someone who looks different from anyone you’ve ever seen before. All you need to do is A.S.K. Always Show Kindness.

The “saving the best for last” cliché rings true here as I share my lesson learned of the most importance: Spend time loving other people, not hating them. Arguing & conflicts are a mammoth waste of time in lives so fleeting as ours. “Ours” meaning Every Single Body On This God-Created Earth.

 

Here’s the thing: “The Sender” Similarities PART SIX

The thing is, I’m posting as I’m currently daily reading through “The Sender,” so expect several more posts since my dry eyes limit my reading amount.

One chapter I read today shared my thinking as well. The idea in the letter from “The Sender” in the 21st chapter is that instead of dwelling on your Condition, focus on your Position. Specifically, the anonymous friend sending letters of wisdom, insight & encouragement who called himself “The Sender” to Charlie, was saying think about the positives in your life – including Charlie’s wife, 2 daughters & football players – rather than your disease.

Similarly, my strong commitment to schoolwork was the Position I focused on throughout my years having a cancer Condition. What I’ve learned in hindsight is that looking ahead to success truly can immensely influence battles you are fighting. That’s not to say you won’t meet challenges, but obstacles are easier to overcome if you don’t give in to them & don’t give them the power to make you defeated or depressed. Attitude does affect outcome.

In the middle of leukemia treatment, & like “The Sender” says, focusing not on my current cancer Condition but more positively, mostly on my schoolwork/student Position

 

 

“True Friends are Hard to Come By” poem aka a Fitting Addition to today’s earlier post that mentions me writing this

Few friends stay close, most drift away far.

This trial shows you who your true friends are.

Many people call at first, they think that is enough,

But many stop calling when the going gets tough.

At first they visit and bring food, cards and flowers

And they sit and they chat for a couple of hours.

But you keep getting sick, not improving at all

And you notice that lots of people no longer call.

A true friend knows that they don’t understand,

But their presence is precious, they always lend a helping hand.

True friends never let you feel sad or alone

And continue their visits and their calls on the phone.

True friends always show that they care.

True friends, unfortunately, are rare.

When a person is there for beginning, middle and end,

You know that you have found yourself a true friend.

The End