I woke up this morning realizing I’ve been on this planet for 62 years. I’m not sure what the heck happened. Yesterday I’m dancing with my girlfriend to White Rabbit, today I’m married to her with two adult children and three grand children.

I’m very lucky getting my leukemia at this late age. CLL is usually, but not always, a slow moving disease. Since I’m in my later years, I might even beat Leuk to the deadline (pun intended).

But I’ve met young folks on Twitter who are suffering with leukemia. They’re too young. When most kids are dancing to what-ever-band-is-in-now, they are having chemo and spending time in hospitals and worrying about their future. A future that Leuk is trying to deny them.

But they are brave. Their tweets (posts) are mostly upbeat. They talk about regular teenage stuff mixed in with their leukemia worries.

In the late 1960’s a girl in our high school, Lynda, died from leukemia. She was smart, beautiful, a cheerleader, and one of those quiet personalities that made you glad she was there. She would have graduated near the top of her class. But she didn’t make it.

In her Junior year she was gone.

Leukemia in young people is a hateful thing. I wonder sometimes what sort of vast, eternal plan would allow it.

But kids are resilient. They are good fighters. If their loved ones help hold them up and if their faith is strong, many will beat Leuk.  And some will not.

We need to pray for them – these young kids forced to grow up quicker than most. Their only struggles should have been the wonderful, awkward, tangled up mess of teenage life;  not worrying about a terminal disease.

To these young people fighting Leuk I say this: Don’t give up. Face him head on. Fight the good fight.

And win.

I dropped all my photography work. I quit doing real estate photography awhile back. But I had planned on keeping my interior design clients because they pay more.

One called just a few days ago. She had a job for me in Anacortes, Washington shooting a new house she’d worked on. I was going to do it but decided to call her back today and cancel. I’m finding Leuk is making me feel more tired.

I’ve done commercial work for a long time, mostly of products, harvesters, houses, and other things that don’t move much. If you’d like to see my site it is at www.jimwsmith.com.

I’m down to one client now – an architect who is also my son-in-law. His projects are usually closer to home. I hope I can keep working for him. We’ll see.

I’m really not too bummed out about this. After nearly 20 years it’s time for a change anyway.

Actually, Leuk is still being fairly good to me; though my oncologist is talking more about treatments. Probably won’t be for a while yet, but he is starting to bring the subject up more.

I hope you all won’t see this as one of those downer posts. It’s not. I’m just learning to let go of some things so I can enjoy others.

I have a loving wife, a roof over my head, no debt (except a small mortgage), creative projects, a great family, and wonderful grandchildren.

Just now, as I was writing this post my wife came in my office to say good night. I asked if she is alright with all this – the changes in me that are effecting our income. “I’m fine with it,” she said. “You’ve just got to stop worrying. We have enough coming in now and I feel secure no matter what happens.”

I hugged her telling her that, considering how this thing is effecting our income, not too many wives would be like this.

“I don’t care about other wives,” she said. “I’m fine with it.”  She has no idea how much that helped me.

In the past there were times when I took her for granted. Not now. I’m finally seeing, really seeing, who she is and how much she means to me. Sometimes love is not a strong enough word. The Bible speaks of a still small voice – the voice of God. More and more that voice speaks to me of her.

So, as you can see, despite the changes that are happening, everything is alright.

All is well.

I want to write a note to the spouses, partners, parents, siblings, and children who live with, care for, and love us.

It’s true we live with the possibility of death, but you are facing the possibility of loss. Some of us will beat Leuk and some won’t. Death is frightening but at least it has an ending. Losing the one you love is not so easily blotted out.

Some of my readers, like Darla (she sometimes makes comments on this blog), don’t have leukemia but are the loved ones of someone who does. It’s not quite correct to say they don’t have the disease because when Leuk is in the home he, in some ways, infects everyone in it.

Their white blood cells and bone marrow remain healthy, but their souls are fighting for sanity. Their hearts are beating for answers. They struggle to make sense of a senseless situation.

We carry the disease, but our loved ones carry us.

So I hope we would all say this to our lovers and family:

It is okay to tell me you are afraid. You might be holding back, stoically thinking you have to be strong for me. But, my love, I won’t break. I won’t get more sick if you cry in front of me. I know you are even more afraid than I am. You have a right to be afraid.

You are doing so much, giving so much, and I feel like I give so little back. Yes, I’m sick, but I am still in love. In love with you. I know how hard this is for you and I love you all the more for sticking with me.

But go and take some time off for yourself. Find moments away from the house. Unload your burdens to a friend. Breathe fresh air so you can come back to me all the stronger.

I know you pray for me. What you may not know is I am praying for you.

Having leukemia is not fun. In fact, let’s be honest – it’s scary.

As worrisome as it is for us though, it is even more so for our family and friends. After all, those of us living with Leuk know how we feel each day. He has become a regular part of our lives. We naturally worry about what Leuk will mean for our future and even wonder if he might kill us. But if you are like me, you deal with Leuk differently on different days. You worry less on some days and more on others. You feel better on some days and worse on others. But you always have a gauge for how you are doing.

Not so with the other people in your life.

It is often thought, and rightly so, that the person with leukemia needs encouragement and prayer. But not much is said about what our loved ones need. They can’t know how we are feeling or what we are thinking.

To those you know, you are their friend who has leukemia. To your children, you are their parent who has leukemia. To your spouse, you are her lover who has leukemia.

But none of them, even those closest to you, can know where you’re at in your head. They have no way of knowing how you feel. If you tell them you’re having a bad day, they tend to think every day after that is bad for you. It’s good to be honest about your days with Leuk. When they ask, it’s okay to tell them if you’re having a rough day. But it is also important to let them know when you are doing well.

I tend to make light of it when my friends ask how I’m doing. I try to alleviate their worries by seeming to not be worried myself. In most cases I really am not worried, but other times I am. Maybe this is not the best way to handle things. I don’t know. Maybe it’s not completely honest. I’m not saying you should take this approach. I’m just saying to be gentle about it.

What do I mean by ‘gentle’? Well, think of it this way: If your wife asks you if she looks fat in that dress, do you say “Well, honey, it really doesn’t flatter you” or do you say “Oh my God! It makes you look huge!!”

Think of them as worried, hurting people. After all, they are. They love you and often have more fear about it than you do. They need your encouragement.

And also, if you are a praying person, pray for them. They are, after all, praying for you. It might be nice to return the favor.