Participate relentlessly

Jeff participates in the traditional ritual of "ringing out" on his last day of radiation at Walter Reed, September 2013.

Jeff participates in the traditional ritual of “ringing out” on the last day of treatment
in Radiation Oncology at Walter Reed Medical Center, Bethesda MD, September 2013.

“You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings.”
Elizabeth Gilbert

Two years ago today we got the devastatingly bad news nobody ever wants to get, and despite some initial hope that it might not be as fearful as it seemed at first, the prognosis only got worse and worse in the weeks that followed.  Yet life went on, and blessings abounded.

Some of them were decidedly mixed blessings, as Jeff endured grueling chemotherapy, side effects, and harrowing surgeries.  The toughest one was less than a year ago, in November, a multi-stage resection that lasted 14 hours, after which he was kept asleep until the next morning, and then spent another two hours in the operating room to address complications.  As traumatic as these procedures were, they gave him a considerably improved prognosis, and we feel thankful he had the options available.

Every step of the way, we have been mindful of the tremendous advantage we enjoyed in having top-notch health care provided through the military medical system, without fears of catastrophic debt or threatened job security.

We also appreciate the physical strength that Jeff had built through years of a healthy diet and daily exercise.  While these did not prevent him from getting a highly malignant cancer, I have no doubt the foundation of generally sound health helped him endure and survive extremely aggressive treatments.

I have been so grateful to Jeff for his understanding of the need to “participate relentlessly” in the blessings that were there for us at a very dark time.  Because he has been willing to face the ordeals of treatment, he is now at the 2-year average survival time originally predicted for patients with his diagnosis who started the chemotherapy protocol he began shortly after his stage IV cancer was discovered, and he’s doing much better than originally expected.

Amazingly, he still works full time on days when not in the hospital or receiving outpatient treatments. In this way, too, he participates relentlessly in the life he has lived in faith for so many years.  The future remains far from assured, but we take each day as a gift and live in hope for more years together.

If you’re like most people, some of your richest blessings may have been, or still may be, not easily endured.  Others will be hidden for years, until you look back and realize that things you were unaware of, or even worried about, were bright threads weaving a beautiful pattern in the tapestry of your life.  We may be unable to see the finished designs of our lives for a long time; we’ll see mostly the knots and loose threads.

I hope you won’t let that sidetrack you.  Some days will be more difficult than others, but relentless participation does not require our best every day.  It just requires faith and commitment.  If we keep showing up, the blessings will continue to flow.  I really believe that.

One year ago today:

Other springs

This post was first published seven years ago today. The original post, comments and photo are linked, along with two other related posts, below. These links to related posts, and their thumbnail photos, do not appear in the blog feed; they are only visible when viewing the individual posts by clicking on each one. I have no idea why, nor do I know how they choose the related posts. That’s just the way WordPress does things.

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