My father-in-law was diagnosed in the fall with prostate cancer. He had surgery in November and recovered well from it. The doctor was optimistic that he wouldn't need any further treatment. Follow-up blood tests showed a continued elevation of numbers that should have been decreasing. This week, he received the news that he would have to undergo different combinations of hormone therapy and radiation for the next six months.
Everyone, including the doctors, are very optimistic for a positive outcome. My husband, his mom and his sisters are all ready to support my father-in-law in any way they can. Though there is some fear that rises up now and then, (which is certainly understandable!), everyone is trying to remain positive.
The one really good thing that I have seen come out of my father-in-law's illness is that everyone in the family has started living life with the focus that "every day is a blessing." In the back of our heads I think everyone knows that we don't know how long any of our lives will be. We don't want to live in complete fear of losing those we love, but we also don't want to get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of daily life that we let too much time pass connecting in deeper ways with our family and friends. When someone is sick, it forces us to stop and re-evaluate what is happening, how the changes will affect everyone, and how to adapt.
When you are forced to look at the reality that life is finite, you appreciate the time more. I see my sister-in-laws being supportive and encouraging to keep his spirits up. I see my husband wanting to stop by and visit his parents more...even if it's just for a quick hello. I see his father being more connected with his grandkids and more social at family get togethers. I see father and son bonding with shared projects and ideas, communicating in their own "man language" that seems to bring important connection and peace to both of them. I think regular celebrations like birthdays and anniversaries get looked at differently- less as something to "fit in" and more as a special moment to spend time together, let people know how special they are, and make family memories.
When someone gets sick, it forces you to realize that the amount of celebrations they have left are less than the amount we have had the opportunity to be a part of in the past. In some ways it is a grace to re-focus and a grace to appreciate in a deeper way the time we do have together. Sometimes, (often?), it feels like everyone will be here forever and things will always be the way they are. Things often change so slowly, and life is so busy, that it is often a shock when some bigger event happens...like a graduation, or marriage, or sickness....to realize just how much things have changed! You look in the mirror and wonder when those wrinkles and gray hairs started appearing! Or how your baby could have graduated from high school(or college..or kindergarten..or 8th grade!)....or when your parents started to slow down...or how your teenagers are bigger than you are....
Each moment is special in its own way. Memories are important...especially good ones. There are lots of opportunities to make those memories...we just have to take the time to re-focus every now and then and remember what's important.
If you could keep my father-in-law, Fran, in your prayers it would be much appreciated. I know the next few months won't be a picnic for him! Once it's over we are looking forward to many more years of special memories!