Did you just receive the news that you have leukemia? When Leuk comes into your life he can stir up all sorts of reactions. For me, the reactions changed over time.
It was a bit of a wait before the doctor came in. I didn’t mind him being late – it just means he is giving his patients all his attention for as long as they need. He was doing that for the patient before me, so I knew he’d be doing the same for me.
I already knew I might have leukemia because the blood tests were attempting to find why my white blood cell count was so much higher than the norm. So it wasn’t totally unexpected when he walked in and gave me the news.
My first reaction was sort of bland. Almost as if he’d told me I had a cold. It wasn’t until the next day that I really grabbed hold of what was happening in my body. Even then I wasn’t really scared. I guess I was befuddled; I wondered how this could happen.
A girl in my high school back in the 1960’s (yes I’m an old fart) died of leukemia and I remember thinking how awful it would be to have that happen. But, I thought, it would probably never happen to me.
Now here I was years later facing down Leuk.
A month or so after I received the news, anger set in. My father had died of lung cancer several years before and I was already mad at God for that. Dad didn’t pass easy.
And I was in debt when Leuk hit. Suddenly I was faced with the possibility that I would leave my wife in financial ruin. Everything seemed to be coming down on me. Though I put on a good face when around people, I sometimes yelled and swore at God when alone. I still wasn’t afraid of dying, I was just really torqued off. (I have a more descriptive expletive than that, but I’ll spare you.)
Now I’ve come to think differently about my new nemesis Leuk. He’s someone to be dealt with. Sure he can get me down at times, but he hasn’t beaten me. There’s options I have that my high school friend didn’t have. The odds now are better than they were then.
So, my reactions went from numbness, to disbelief, to anger, to acceptance. (Those reactions, by the way, are similar to the grieving process.)
I have yet to experience fear. I was afraid about leaving my wife in debt, but never of dying. We have managed to become nearly debt free now and so that worry is gone. Now I can focus on my upcoming battles with Leuk. But, oddly perhaps, I’m still not afraid.
I’m not really sure why. Maybe it’s my age. Maybe it’s my A.D.D. and I just forget about Leuk!
I think mostly it’s because I’ve learned over the years that anticipation rarely does any good. Most of the things I’ve worried about never happened. The future holds unexpected surprises, so worrying just wastes time.
I know some of you are facing fear. You have reason to be afraid. But you also have hope. Hope in each day. Every morning when you open your eyes you have another day that Leuk hasn’t won. He hasn’t taken the day away from you. You’ve won that day and he lost it.
You can take lots of days away from him and keep them for yourself. Yes, you could say the day might come when he finally wins but, fact is, even on that day it doesn’t have to be a win for him. You will still have won if, every day before, you made a conscience choice to claim those days as your own. You can choose how you react to Leuk. You can chose whether to spend your days in anger and fear or to claim them as your own and not Leuk’s.
No matter what happens, he only wins if you let him steal the days you have.