A Dose of Reality

This week I had the chance to spend some time in a cancer treatment center.  I got a dose of reality.

Before you start worrying, I am fine.  I was an outsider today…accompanying someone else for this visit.

As I pulled into the parking lot I quickly observed people being helped out of cars and trucks…both old and new.  Some folks were well dressed.  Others looked like they hadn’t seen new clothes in a long time.  Cancer didn’t care about their socio-economic status.

As I entered the building I saw a wall of wigs on those white Styrofoam head pieces.  Four rows of wigs… all colors and styles.  I quickly remembered the reason for the wigs as I looked around the waiting room.  Many of the folks seated in the waiting room were wearing wigs.  Chemotherapy takes a toll on the body.

The waiting room was crowded.  As I looked for a place to sit, a man and his wife, both in their 80’s, slid over so I could sit next to them.  He looked at me and smiled.  I wondered about his life story and what he was facing.  As I watched him, I noticed he was wearing shoes with Velcro closures.  I looked at my shoes and remembered how careful I had been to pick out just the right ones.  As you battle cancer, fashion takes a back seat to survival.

Name after name was called to follow the nurses to the treatment area.  Some patients walked on their own, others needed help.  Nobody complained, the nurses knew patients by their first name, life kept moving forward even though we all knew some folks in the room didn’t have much time left on this earth.

I was reminded what the bible says about life.  In James 4:14 we are told, “Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.”

Knowing how quickly our lives will pass, I found myself thinking about my days on earth. Am I preoccupied with my job, gaining social status, increasing my portfolio, busy with things of little consequence?

Maybe I should be spending more time with my family…who are also like vapors.  They will be gone before I know it.  Maybe I should be better focused on spiritual issues and spending more time on things with an eternal significance. Maybe I should spend less time worrying about what others think of me and just think about and care for others.

Maybe we all should.

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3 thoughts on “A Dose of Reality

  1. Thanks for this post. I’m reading it as I fly to Florida to be with my mom in the hospital. She was diagnosed with leukemia last March and had a bone marrow transplant in June. Our whole family has reevaluated our lives over the past 11 months. I feel blessed that we were able to be her caretakers through this process, and we’ve been in a lot of waiting rooms like you described. It has been a serious reality-check. Like you said, there are no guarantees, life can change in an instant, and former priorities take a back seat when you go through something like this.

    Much love to you and your family. ❤

  2. Dr. Myers that is a wonderful outlook from one short visit. My father was recently diagnosed with GBM and I have spent more time in the waiting room to see neurosurgeons and oncologist then ever before. Luckily for us, dad was able to fly to Florida for the surgery and he is recovering well. But we have a love road ahead of us with chemo and radiation therapy. I have changed my outlook on life…family is more important than an unnecessary trip to the mall or breakfast with friends early Saturday morning is more important than sleeping in. It’s sad that we all needed such a rude awakening but now that we see things differently i am hoping we will make the best of our time and spend it wisely. I hope all is well at your end. 🙂

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