I stopped in at Kohls after my radiation treatment. My granddaughter is getting married on the 4th of October and I needed a blouse to wear. I walked up and down a few isles hoping something would jump out at me without my needing to put much effort into shopping; I really didn't feel well. Radiation treatments kills not only the cancerous cells, but also the good ones, requiring the body to work extra hard to rebuild what is dying. I felt the fatigue all that work caused. My feet and legs ached along with my hands. Chemo has caused neuropathy. At first they feel numb and then the numbness turns into pain. I left the store without a blouse, sat in my car and had a pity party.
"I can't handle this." I said silently to myself. "I've reached the point where I don't even have the energy to shop for myself. I can't have my daughter constantly be responsible for taking care of me, but I feel like crap." My mind continued down the path of feeling sorry for myself until I remembered once again something my father had said so many years ago.
My father died when I was nine years old. During those nine years of my life, Dad was in the hospital about six of them. When he died, Mom said he had thirteen major illnesses racking his body. He had a disease where his body built too much blood. It would get to a point where if he bumped his arm, blood would seep through the pores. Another was the partial lung he had to breath with. Dad had been in a coal mining accident that had crushed his chest leaving that piece of lung to supply his oxygen needs, and even it had black lung disease.
Mom related the story of once when the doctor walked into the hospital room to visit Dad.
"How are doing today, Mac?" the doctor asked.
"Just fine," Dad replied.
"You can't fool me," the doctor said. "Remember, I'm your doctor. I know what you suffer with and I know how that makes you feel. You're not feeling fine."
"No," Dad responded. "But you don't have to look far to find someone worse off than you."
I thought of his words while sitting there in the car and felt ashamed for the pity I was allowing myself.
I have a beautiful granddaughter getting married, and I have the opportunity of sharing in her happy day. I had enough money in reserve to buy myself clothes, when there are some that do not have enough money to buy themselves food. I live in a country where my illness was treated by knowledgeable and trained physicians, surgeons, oncologists and radiologists. After my treatment, I went home to a comfortable bed, surrounded by people who love me. I did not lay alone on a dirt floor in a hut in Africa or in the slums of some cities in America. Yes, I had cancer, but I was in remission while there are others who suffer the same disease for years; some of whom are children.
After an adequate self talking to, I wiped the tears from my face, touched up my lipstick and went back into the store and found the blouse I needed.
I won't guarantee myself that I won't have other days when the sun leaves my sky and clouds darken my days. But I do guarantee myself that when that happens, I will try to remember the words of my dad, take a look around me and be thankful for the problems I have instead of having those of others. You truly don't have to look far to be thankful.