I remember the first time I realized I am a cancer patient. I was at the Royal Brisbane Hospital, and had to find my way to the Oncology Services. As I walked underneath the sign pointing the way, it hit me – I was an oncology patient. I didn’t really feel any different from the day before, and my looks had not altered. Yet, tears flowed as I waked along the long corridors towards the treatment rooms for my appointment. I had cancer.
What makes a cancer patient different from anyone else? If you walked into any oncology waiting room in any hospital, you will see many and varied people. Some will look sick and have various stages of hairloss. Others will look fitter than most of the general population. You can not tell by looking.
One thing most will have in common – they have faced the reality that none of us will live forever. It is confronting to face a life limiting illness. As much as modern science has made many breakthroughs in the area of treatment, it has not conquered cancer. I know the cancer in my body is not curable. I am grateful that it has been held back by chemotherapy, but am aware that this is limited. It’s something I have come to terms with.
It is a comfort to know that, although my ragged old body has taken a beating by this disease, it cannot affect my Spirit. Yes, there is more to life than just this outer shell. The real me – my personality, my inner being, will live on. And knowing this brings peace.
Meanwhile, as the body gets weaker and more tired, I can still have joy. I can laugh at my grandbabies funny antics and enjoy time spent with my precious family and lovely friends. I have much to be grateful for.
I can’t claim to be a lily, but I love the words of Ben Jonson, who lived in the 16th century:
It is not growing like a tree
In bulk doth make men better be,
Or standing long an oak, three hundred year
To fall at last, dry, bald and sere;
A lily of a day
Is fairer far in May
Although it fall and die that night
It was the plant and flower of light.
In small proportion we just beauty see:
And in small measure, life may perfect be.