After three years of service, last Sunday was my last day as a hospice volunteer. Over the years I engaged with many people during their last days of their life’s journey. Their life stories made my life story richer, and I will never forget the man who set the bar incredibly high.
Seven years ago I set a life goal and forgot all about it. To my surprise and delight, I realized I had reached this #1 life goal without even trying!
The Urban Dictionary defines butthurt as “an inappropriately strong negative emotional response from a perceived personal insult.” When you’re subjected to the incredibly dysfunctional American health care system, butthurt takes on a whole new meaning.
The surprise cancer diagnosis, and the mortifying realization of how I gave myself cancer had me reeling until the practical realities set in. What are all of the treatment options? What is the best treatment? What would or wouldn’t my sham of a health insurance policy cover? How much cash would I need upfront and how much debt would I add? Who do I tell, when do I tell them, and what do I say?
During that fateful September phone call in which my doctor stunned me with the surprise cancer diagnosis, he mentioned that PET scans illuminate cancer cells by using radioactive glucose. This is because cancer cells consume sugar at 19 times the rate of normal cells. That’s when I knew exactly how I had given myself colon cancer.
When the bleeding started, I thought it was because I wasn’t watching what I was eating. I thought that once I finished finals and got back to a regular diet , I would be back to normal in no time. I was wrong.
Do you ever forget your first love, the first we experience when our hearts are still innocent? When we fall in love for the first time, we experience a new depth of caring that is more complex and more compelling. Our first love leaves a lasting imprint on who we are.
In the early 1990s my job required met to travel from Washington, D.C. to New York City every two weeks for team meetings. I had co-workers that wished they could go as often so they could have a leisurely dinner and maybe take in a show, stay in a company-paid hotel overnight, then fly home the next morning. That wasn’t my life.
If you look closely at my hands, especially when they’re tan, you’ll see a smattering of slightly raised scars. I have some on my thighs too, however those rarely see the light of day. The scars I still have are from wounds inflicted on a fateful day when I was only 11 years old.
Sometimes we don’t realize when we are being given a precious, life changing gift. In my case, it wasn’t until almost a decade later that I appreciated the value of the gift I was given.