Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Heart of Life

We all get sick of hearing bad news on tv, on the internet, from friends and co-workers. But when the bad news creeps in from the world around you to your close friends and family, it's a whole different story. Remember my mention of friends who had recently experienced a tragedy? Well, there has also been more bad news among those closest to me. My mom's husband of 16 years (since I was 13) recently started having stomach pain every time he ate. When he finally decided to go to the doctor, you know how men can be and he's totally the kind to wait and tough it out, they sent him to have an endoscopy. The doctor's explanation to my mom of what he saw was that at the base of the esophagus it looked "very lumpy and bumpy" and he "took lots of biopsies." I'm no doctor, but even I knew exactly what that meant.

A week or so went by and the biopsies came back to show it was a malignant tumor... cancer. They went to see an oncologist who turned out to be really fantastic. He said that my step-dad will need six weeks of chemo-therapy and radiation. Then he'll be off of it for another six weeks before having surgery. The surgery they do for this involves removing the entire esophagus. They pull the stomach all the way up to the back of the throat and - miraculously - it learns to function as the esophagus. Incredible. This will happen right around Christmas, and then there will of course be a recovery period after that.

To say my mom is a worrier is a little bit of an understatement. She doesn't manage stress all that well and tends to get overwhelmed. She gets stressed over having a group of family or friends over for a party, so you can imagine how she is taking this news. I know she can't take her eyes off the big picture, when what she really needs to do is break it down into teeny tiny manageable bits. My siblings and I rallied and took care of my dad, who was barely there for us as kids, when he became ill a few years ago. So for my mom who raised us alone and did an incredible job, I know that we'll make sure she is completely taken care of throughout this process. It's going to be a long journey, and she needs her health and sanity if she's going to be able to take care of her husband, after all. Fortunately, they are people of faith. They pray daily and trust God with their lives. That alone will make a huge difference in how they experience all of this. Additionally, they both hold a really positive outlook and are planning long term.

So what are we to think when all this bad news seems to surround us? I can tell you the first thing I do is count my blessings and thank God for them. I'm not really sure what else there is to do. We can only control and affect so much in this world. Stressing over the things we can't only hurts us more.

I was driving the other day and a song by John Mayer came on my iPod. I'm not calling him a great person, but I love his music. Anyway, the song is called The Heart of Life and it's about keeping your chin up in tough times. It made me think of the people around me who are dealing with so much right now. It talks about how bad news never has good timing, but even if things don't go the way they should, the heart of life is good. I guess in a way he's saying not to give up on everything when lots of things seem to be falling apart. It's easy to get mad at life, or get mad at God and wonder why terrible things ever happen. Nobody knows the answer to that. But all in all, when we look around, there's a lot to be grateful for. And who knows how these trials will change and shape us. There's a lot to be said for a new perspective. That alone can be life-changing.

Anyway, sorry to be a bummer. I know it's no fun to read about sad things, but life is life and sometimes these things happen. I'll definitely post updates on his progress, and if anyone is so inclined, prayers are appreciated, for my step-dad and my friends who are recovering from a tragedy.


  1. Ok, your post actually is kind of freaking me out because John has been having a lot of pain when he eats too. I sent him to the doctor right away and they think it might be his gallbladder, but we are still waiting to hear back from the sonogram he had. Now I'm thinking they should do an endoscopy. Sorry, this is a bad comment for your lovely post about the heart of life. I really do agree and I will keep your Mom and Step-Dad in my prayers.

  2. :( So glad he got checked out! One thing I learned with my diagnosis/surgery is always listen to your body! I hope your step-dad recovers fully! I will be praying for him. Big hugs to you and your family!


I love hearing from you!