Celebrating Christmas At The Cummins

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Christmas has always been my favorite time of year. We become aware of it when we hear Christmas carols played in late November in drug stores when we go there to buy medicine for whatever ails us. Expensive medications and other things such as devoted doctors and nurses keep us alive, and how well I know that. For nearly four years, the Veterans Hospital in Louisville has been a kind of second home to me. They keep in touch with me and want me to visit them to poke me with needles that injects poison stuff inside me. And they repeatedly radiate my insides to annihilate the cancer cells rapidly growing there, like crab grass in a neighbor’s neglected front yard.

After over 80 years of near perfect health, somehow those hideous cells crept inside me and began growing in my lower digestive system. Our digestive system is very important to us. Let’s just say, don’t leave home without it. To combat the cancer, my VA doctor said he wanted me to wear a chemo pack for six weeks, 24 hours a day to inject chemo into the port they installed up near my right shoulder. Carrying that bag and sleeping with it wasn’t that worrisome after I got used to it, because my life depended on it. And they radiated my lower body several times to kill the cancer cells growing there. After that, they operated on me, and took part of lower insides out, and attached an ileostomy bag outside near where my naval is to collect the body waste from what remained in my digestive system. What a horrendous experience that was. Then a serious infection invaded me, and back to the hospital again until they cleared that up.

A few months later, my doctor sent me to get a pet-scan. The huge scan machine provides images of your insides to reveal the extent of the cancer that was part of my undetermined existence. I’ve had several pet-scans and the doctor doesn’t give you the results until it’s all processed, about three days later. That’s three days and nights of extreme anxiety with this constant thought — am I going to live or die? I became worn out physically and mentally, so why not go ahead and prepare to die, but how do you do that? On second thought — I want to live. There’s too much I want to see and do.

It was a grand day in my life when my doctor told me that my cancer was under control. And it was another grand day when he told me they would take the ileostomy bag off and I could live “somewhat” normally again. It was the first time I eagerly anticipated living a few more days in a hospital, after which my life became great again.

But that’s not the end of my cancer adventure. After another pet-scan, they discovered the cancer had spread to my bones, primarily in my spine. OK, back to the chemo, which practically paralyzed me. And they sent me to the radiation pit several times to burn up the attached cancer. But this time, they made a plastic mask to cover my head to prevent destroying what dwindling brain smart-cells I had remaining — perhaps a dozen or two.

Last week, another pet-scan and the anxious wait for the results: “Your cancer has stopped spreading and is under control.” What else to shout, but Joy to the World and Glory to the Highest!

If I were Santa Claus, I’d take 10 sleigh-loads of presents to my VA doctors and nurses. They are devoted and dedicated to treating veterans, many of whom are in much worse shape than I am. Veterans pay a price, so you can give something back at Christmas, which is a celebration of the infinite spiritual domain.

I want to live, because all my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren need my guidance during their lives, but they seldom listen. I also have weekly articles to write and must finish my seventh book — “Life Is Worth Living; If You Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff.” As time speeds on, unless cancer gets you or something else does, we should celebrate the gift of our lives every day. As I reflect on the past, my cancers didn’t seem like small stuff at the time, but they probably were in the whole scheme of things. Now, my spirit thrives as I’ve been rewarded with untold blessings of which I’m eternally grateful.

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