P is for Perspective

15 Sep

Yesterday was my best day yet since treatment. I woke up feeling the best I have since this last treatment. Yay!!! So, I guess I can count on about a week of yucky before I start the swing toward feeling better which should continue for the next three weeks. I think I can handle that.

My sister, Jennifer, occasionally sends me NPPT emails. What’s an NPPT email, you ask? It’s a No Pity Party Today email that usually contains a story about someone whose situation is tons worse than mine. She sends these not to be mean, but to help me remember on those days when I start to feel just a wee bit sorry for myself that things are not as bad as they could be. It’s so true.

During treatment last week, I was reminded of NPPT by two different patients.

The first man was probably in his fifties or sixties, but he looked to be even older than that. His hair was thin and fresh – fuzzy, like the new hair chemo patients get when it starts to grow back in. He was small in height and size and clearly not feeling very well this day, but he managed to smile through teeth that needed some work. I doubt he could afford to have that done. He told me he works two jobs because his wife is blind in one eye and cannot work. He also said that treatment is making it hard for him to maintain two jobs, but they are getting by.

He has colon cancer. He didn’t offer what stage, but did say that “they caught it in time.” He gets chemo every other week and will do so for 24 weeks – 12 rounds of treatment, and he was just completing his sixth round. It was hard for me to imagine how much more frail he would get before completing treatment if he is now only half-way through. I noticed he was alone. He was only there for a couple of hours, but he was alone the whole time. And he left alone.

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out his situation is much more difficult than mine. Let’s see:

  • works two jobs
  • cares for disabled wife
  • chemo every 14 days
  • alone

Nope, none of those pertain to me. I am blessed.

The second man to take the chair was an elderly gentleman who looked to be around 80. Could have been my grandpa. Well, maybe not my grandpa because I am, ahem, in my forties now, but I’m sure he’s someone’s grandpa! Anyway, he wasn’t there for treatment but was getting IV fluids because he was dehydrated. His daughter said he just doesn’t want to eat or drink much lately. He has cancer that has metastasized and is now in four places in his body. She sighs…. She’s worried about him.

This sweet little man cares for his wife – her mother – who has Alzheimer’s. Seriously?? He, like the other man, comes for treatment every other week. By the time he starts to feel better fromone  treatment, it’s time for another. His daughter lives 12 hours away in Arkansas and has been here six weeks caring for him and her mother. She has two brothers who live in Knoxville and Nashville, but she has the most flexible schedule to be here for extended periods of time, so she is carrying the burden mostly on her own. However, she can’t be here all the time and needs to go home. Such a hard place to be for all of them.

Again, no advanced math degree needed to see that this situation is much more difficult than my own:

  • metastasized cancer
  • cares for wife who has Alzheimer’s
  • no children living nearby
  • prognosis is not good
Again, none of these pertain to me. I am ridiculously blessed.

It’s all about perspective. Even on my worst day, I only have to work one job and I don’t have to show up every day if I’m too sick to do so. They understand when I can’t be there and they have been so incredibly understanding. More than understanding, they are concerned about me. Blessed, I tell you.

I don’t have to take care of anyone else, not a child or an ailing parent, AND I have loads of people wanting and waiting to take care of me. My prognosis is pretty good. And here’s the big one – I am not alone. I am blessed beyond comprehension and so grateful.

I hope you, my wonderful friends, have a very blessed day!

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