Late last night I had an epiphany. All of the things I have tried to do this year have failed, right up until the first of April. Now I know why. For all these decades I kept getting knocked back every time I was on the verge of success. At one point I actually thought I was cursed. Now I know what was really happening; I was dodging the blessings that were meant for me. The truth is, unless you have as hard a head as I do, sometimes, certainly not very often, but sometimes the ways in which The Lord works are no mystery at all. It would appear I finally got the message. Thank God.
On 1 April I was in the hospital. Had a relatively minor issue, but I was in there for three days. With all of the attending lab work, imaging, etc., the cost wiped out my savings. This happened, of course, just as I was about to execute my business plan. BOOM! Money gone, nothing I can do. I was out of work for a week, then went back to work and started getting everything paid off and continuing to move the plan forward. So, it would be delayed a few months, not ideal, but I was still on track.
No, actually, that is not how it worked out. On July 23 I went to work as usual, did all of the usual morning inspections, maintenance, etc. Then I got in the truck and got ready to go. No dispatches, so I pretty much just sat there for a couple of hours. I had not felt well for several days before, and in fact did something that is very out of character for me, I took a couple of sick days to try to figure out what was going on. This time, I realized whatever it was might be more serious than I thought. I got out of the truck and went to the supervisor and told him I had to go see the doctor.
I went home and changed, then to the ER at Midland Memorial Hospital. They did a C/T scan and found the problem; stage four colon cancer, metastasized. I have a major tumor in my colon, and it has spread. My kidneys, liver and apparently my lungs were all affected, though not significantly. When the ER Doctor and the Nurse came into the room to tell me they were pretty upset. The nurse looked like she was going to cry. They both seemed somewhat surprised at my response: “Well, I guess I’m going to war.” And so, I did.
It was touch and go there for a while. At one point my weight was down to 105lbs. That is a full eighty pounds under my normal weight. Fortunately, that was rock bottom. With my daughter Mary’s help, we finally figured out how to get enough mass and nutrition into me to turn it around. I gained 12 pounds in eight days. Now I am ahead of the curve, on the offensive. I am definitely not going to just survive this, I am going to utterly defeat it.
What lead to the epiphany started at a singular moment that occurred on April 1, 2017. In that moment I somehow gained insight, and even found the ability to bring myself to total peace. I had never been able to do that before. The insights started coming to me soon after that, and accelerated after the cancer diagnosis. In the past couple of weeks, I have come to a clarity of thought and perception that outstrips anything I have experienced in the past. I know what is going to happen. I know precisely what to do and how do to it. Complex structures I have tried to figure out for years are suddenly in sharp, detailed focus.
I have three major initiatives I am currently working. This is unprecedented, I usually only do one at a time, but these are all tied together, each one dependent on the others. The first initiative is, as you might expect, winning this war. I already know I am going to win, at this point it is just a matter of following through. Fortunately, I also have the benefit of an outstanding team of professionals that have, and continue to make this a lot easier than I thought it would be. The newest member of the team is Dr. Veronica Bernuy, DDS at Basin Dental right here in Midland. Dr. Bernuy is my new dentist, she, like the others on my team, just happened to be in exactly the right place at the right time. I found her almost by mistake, but she is exactly the dentist I need. Nice lady, very personable, but also a no nonsense, straight up professional that knows how to communicate in a direct and factual manner. I like that. Now we have a solid plan to address that part of the problem, and are in the preliminary stages of execution.
Actually, let me take this opportunity to acknowledge the other key members of the team. Dr. Philip Chae, MD is my oncologist at Texas Oncology, Midland Allison Cancer Center. Dr. Chae is in charge of my cancer treatment, including all the chemo. I have to say that so far, I have absolutely no complaints. This guy knows what to do, and how to do it. Dr. Daniel Copeland, MD is my surgeon. Dr. Copeland is the guy that did all the cutting on me, and is also the individual that will, when the time comes, cut this damn thing out of me once and for all. He is also the kind of guy you would invite to your July 4 barbecue, and make sure he gets the good steak. Raceli Gibson, FNP-C, is a nurse practitioner, and without a doubt the very best nurse I have ever seen, and that is saying a lot. She has the gift. Raceli and Dr. Copeland are from Midland Surgical Associates.
The second of my initiatives is business. I will not bore you with the details of that, but suffice it to say, that plan has changed in ways I would have never imagined only a few months ago. The process, the building and managing of such a thing would have been unthinkable to me, but now that I know the true end to which I will apply the means, it makes perfect sense, and I know what to do and how to do it, in detail. The third initiative is actually very personal. No, I will not be going into that either, but I will say that everything else depends on it. If this part does not work, everything falls apart.
So that is were we are now, but there is more to it. As I said at the beginning of this post, late last night I had an epiphany. Perhaps the most profound epiphany I have ever experienced. My savings are wiped out, I can not work, my income is very limited and by no means adequate, my wife lives in a different state, and to make it worse I realized this morning that my wedding ring was not on my finger and we cannot find it anywhere, and as if that is not enough, I have cancer, a colostomy that tortures me, and I cannot even eat properly. Most people in my situation would be preparing to die. I do not have that problem, because I know that is not how this is going to end. This cancer is not in command of my life, I am, and more than ever before. The epiphany? Simple. Despite everything I have endured, and must still endure. Despite the hardship and, at times, down right torture of this crucible, I am profoundly grateful for all of it. That is right, grateful.
I am grateful first to The Lord for finally hitting me hard enough to make it stick. I am grateful to my family and friends who have supported me and been more helpful than they, or even I, realized. I am also very grateful for my team of professionals Dr. Chae, Dr. Copeland, Dr. Bernuy, and, of course, Raceli Gibson who has become more than just a nurse, but a dear and trusted friend. That was my epiphany, gratitude. I know some people may think I am crazy for being grateful for cancer, but if it were the catalyst that had brought you to where I am right now, you would be grateful for it as well. Where I am now is truly beautiful, and it is going to get even better in the months and years to come. My cup runneth over.