More Things You Can Learn…

Hello dear reader(s)!

If you missed part 1 of this post, you can click over and read it here.  So, where did we leave off?  I think we were following Mr. Jones through his quest to recover the Lost Shroud of Tablecloth, high in the Andes.  No, wait, that is the script for the sequel I’m pitching.  Okay then….hmmmm, oh yeah, we were doing the things a non-survivor of a catastrophic illness or accident (I don’t want to exclude) can learn from those who have faced their death and might still be here to continue living.

So, without further adieu, let’s get on with the show!  Ladies and gentleman…The Beatles!  No, wait, the lesson stuff.

  • Not everyone is going to make it  I have met and lost a lot of friends when I was fighting to survive.  Those people were strong, good people that had every right to continue to walk this Earth as I did, but either they didn’t have the awesome team of doctors I ended up with, or they had something that just isn’t yet something that can be fixed.  You don’t need to have gone through cancer treatment to figure that out.  Car accidents, heart attacks, stroke, boredom…all things that can and do take the lives of people you care about.  You will lose people.  Death happens, and sometimes when you least expect it.  Act accordingly.  Make sure the people in your life know how much they mean to you because you may never get another chance to tell them.  I know you hear that all of the time, but you need to LIVE it.
  • There is nothing wrong with quitting  I don’t want to hear comments about this point.  If you haven’t been through it, you have no business telling anyone that they can’t give up in a hopeless situation.  I guess I shouldn’t use the word “hopeless” because breakthroughs do happen, but reasonably, if you can’t enjoy a single second of your life and the odds of that changing are slim to none…well, I am going to miss you, and I am going to feel bad for those you left behind, but I will not blame you for quitting.  And nobody should either.  Now, even in normal everyday life people are always being told that they shouldn’t quit.  They are told quitting is equal to failure.  Bullshit.  How many people who are absolutely great at something they are doing, tried doing something first, but quit?  What would have happened had they never given up?  Think about the levels of mediocrity we would all be exposed to because people never quit anything they tried.  Quitting can be heroic.
  • Being in control is an illusion  I ate pretty good (except the occasional Jimboy’s food or In ‘n Out Burger), I exercised, I did far less drugs before cancer than after, I never smoked cigarettes or crack or meth, or any of a number of other things one would smoke.  I took pretty okay care of myself.  Yes, I had one period in my life where I let my activity level fall and ate a little worse and put on weight, but for the vast majority of my life I was relatively healthy.  I got cancer anyway.  My parents or their parents never had this cancer, they can’t trace it to lifestyle, there is really nothing I can say that I could have done to lessen my chance that I would get this.  Nothing.  So that is something that really taught me that you never have control of a situation.  At any minute, something beyond your scope of influence can come along and screw everything up.  A scenario, if you will:  You have done your research, you have practiced your presentation over and over again.  The numbers are a lock.  Your slides are prepared and queued properly.  You are wowing the shareholders with your knowledge and they are ready to open their pockets to make you one happy camper.  But just as you are thinking your career is set, the banks have decided to stop lending your customers money.  Additionally, the credit that your company relied on to carry it through the unprofitable phase where they are establishing market share has dried up.  Though your numbers and plans would have made your company a lot of money in the next quarter, something you had no control over just destroyed all of that.  Your company is now bankrupt and your career just backslid.  It happens.  Try and accept that you can’t control everything and find a new plan.
  • Adaptability is everything  So first I was told I had Leukemia and would spend 30 days in the hospital getting chemo for the first 5 and then waiting for my blood counts to recover.  Two month, no counts.  Three months, no counts.  Aspergillus Pneumonia.  Staph infection.  Sepsis.  Needed a transplant.  Have to go to a city where they do transplants.  Had to convince them I could survive a transplant.  Had my diagnosis amended.  Was told I should be mostly out of the woods after a year.  On the second year, was still in and out of the hospital.   Many infections, Graft Verses Host Disease, possible failure of the graft, kidney damage, GI issues, fatigue, and on, and on.  I’ve been hit with so many new realities in the last few years that I really am surprised that I know the difference between reality and nightmares.  But change just doesn’t happen to the sick or ill, it happens to everyone.  You can not stop change from happening.  You are going to find yourself in situations you never believed possible.  Your only choice is to adapt to the situation you are in.  It doesn’t matter if you like it or not, you adapt and deal if you want to live with it.

There is of course, more that I would like to share about what having cancer and this whole experience has taught me about life in general, but I need to leave some things for my book.  So, I’ve decided, since this post-type-thing is meant to be semi-inspirational…I will leave you with an inspirational quote.  “Fer Fuck’s Sake!”-Hannah O’Brien

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Author: Josh Wrenn

Cancer survivor, wanna-be artist, musician, author, and all around good guy.

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