Two years ago, Larry Inman called me.
“Hey, Mr. Still Thankful, how do you go about telling your family and friends you have cancer…”
The conversation continued and Larry gained clarity on next steps, but all the while my stomach was in knots. One of my go-to guys, around Trent since he was a little boy, and now it was Larry’s “turn.”
Larry wrote a blog post a few months later, sharing his experience and thoughts, including thankfulness that the cancer was discovered, removed and all tests came back negative.
Before reading Larry’s two-year update below, I suggest you read his first blog post here: http://www.stillthankful.com/blog-1/2017/11/23/handling-it-like-an-inman
Update: the cancer returned. How does one deal with the news? This is how Larry dealt with it.
In this picture, I was blissfully unaware of the insidious beast growing within me, intent on killing me before I even realized it was there. Ten days after it was taken, two years ago today, at a routine physical, my doctor felt something odd and said “It may be nothing but I would feel better if we got it checked out”. With those words I was swept up into an odyssey I never anticipated, as subsequent sonogram and CT scan confirmed that I had kidney cancer. Technically, what I have is Stage IV clear cell Renal Cell Carcinoma (ccRCC) and it is still weird for me to say that out loud.
It sucks! I never would have volunteered for this as I have cried, cussed, screamed, questioned and despaired. But I have also been defiant, determined, joyful, optimistic and grateful. It certainly is not all doom and gloom as there has definitely been a silver lining with this journey and I understand that despite this disease, I am still blessed far beyond merit. I have a beautiful wife that not only puts up with my crap, but who has been amazingly strong and resilient throughout this process. Two wonderful children, plus a fantastic son-in-law, who have had to take on responsibilities much too soon and have shouldered them with grace and courage. I work for the greatest bank that has supported me at every step and has picked up the substantial slack I have left behind. I have a ridiculous support network of friends and family that never cease to amaze me. I have lost count of how many prayer groups I am included in. I regularly get a note from a family in Georgia telling me that they continue to pray for me and love me. I have never met them (hope to correct that at some point) but they only found out about me through a mutual friend. I have told more men that I love them, and had them say they love me, in the past two years than probably in the first 56 combined. I have reconnected with friends from every stage of my life. My symptoms and side effects, while annoying, are still manageable and I am able to continue working. I live 20 minutes from one of the preeminent hospitals to treat kidney cancer in the world. So, while the con side of the ledger is significant, the pro side is pretty substantial and still tilts the scales in my favor.
While I probably know how this story ends, just like you I still don’t know when. Sadly, I know of multiple people that were diagnosed around the same time, or even after me, who have already ended their battle. I also know several that are enduring much more than I am. But I also know of others, my sister for one, who were diagnosed and said “Nope, not today” and promptly kicked cancer’s ass, and that gives me great joy and hope. So, until that day when my war is over, I will desperately and joyously hold on dearly to all of the other days and continue to battle the bastard at every turn. And trust me when I say that this has very little to do with me because alone, without my faith and the tremendous support from all of you, I don’t think I could even get out of bed every morning.
When Jesus was in the garden, he prayed “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will”. Very early on in this process, I realized that I certainly had no right to ask for more than Jesus did, so my prayer has become exactly the same, and I also ask for peace. Still don’t know the answer to the first part of that prayer, but the “peace” part has been answered.
My sister gave me a bracelet that says “Be stronger than the storm”. Because of all of you, so far, I have been able to weather the storm. Please know that everything you do has meaning and doesn’t go unnoticed. Your thoughts and prayers are very tangible to me so….
Thank you and I love you
Now, let’s analyze what Larry wrote. That was thirty-three sentences. Five sentences were complaints, and that’s being hard on Larry; you might actually consider it only three or four. Three sentences were neutral. Twenty-five sentences expressed gratitude! TWENTY-FIVE! So, Larry has lived for two years battling cancer, and has a five-to-one thankful/whine ratio.
May we all be as Still Thankful.