Wednesday, August 1, 2012

A Different Kind of Birthday...

 (When I first got out of the hospital in Albuquerque, this song came on the radio and I honestly felt that this was God's way of telling me that everything was going to be ok. We had some pretty big giants to face, but His voice of truth was right...we would be ok!)

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."- Jeremiah 29:11
(This particular scripture also helped us get through our journey. I offer it as a prayer for anyone who is currently struggling with their own adversities...may you be encouraged and lifted up like we were by this verse!)

I remember it like it was yesterday (even though it's already been a year ago).

 The conversation went a little like this:
DOCTOR: "Mr. Mecale...we got the results back from pathology and the biopsy shows that you have esophageal cancer." 

ME: "But what about the other biopsy that was done at the hospital in Gallup?"

DOCTOR: "We haven't got the results from that test, but chances are it's going to show the same thing...I'm sorry"

From that point on, the whole conversation was kind of a blur. I remember the doctor saying something about the various doctors that would come to talk to me about what would happen next as far as my treatment for the cancer.

After he left, while sitting with my wife, we both were reeling from the news that we just received. It was shocking, scary, but most of mind numbing. I mean honestly, who expects to go into the hospital one day to learn that they have a sickness that could potentially kill them? It was quite a shock. As a matter of fact, it was so shocking to both of us that I remember that we didn't even cry when we first found out. (Although the tears would come later.)

We sat in that hospital room and pondered what would happen next. We knew that we would have to discuss treatments and all that other medical stuff that comes from a diagnosis of having cancer. We also had to discuss what we would have to do as far as personal matters. How would we handle the doctor's visits? How about the time away from work that would be missed because of this? How are we going to provide for Kateri during this time? How do we explain to Kateri that daddy is very sick and that he is going to be going through treatments that are going to make daddy feel even more sick? How am I going to provide for my wife while I am sick? So while all these thoughts raced through my frenzied mind, there was also a moment of calmness and peacefulness that I felt within me. On one hand I was scared out of my mind, but on the other, I was ok with what I had been told. (Even though my wife was terrified beyond belief!) With all the questions that we were facing, my answer for all those questions were answered with, "We'll cross that bridge when we get there," or "We'll worry about that when we have to...there is no sense in getting worried about things before they occur."

So here we are, it is August 1, 2012, exactly one year from the day we received the news that I had cancer. It's hard to believe that it's already been a year. In retrospect, there were things that I learned while going through cancer. The kind of things that are life changing! I learned that the things that I used to think were important, no longer were that important. And the things that I took for granted, I no longer wanted to take for granted. It's like I had been given a new outlook on life. People say that going through something like cancer makes one a different person. Well that definitely holds true for me, It forced me to slow down and really take a look at my life. It forced me to take a look at the life I was leading and it made me realize that I had to make some changes. In order for me to live life to the fullest, I had to realize that I needed to be fit and healthy. No. I HAD to be fit and healthy! I faced something that could have taken my life. Only by the grace of God am I able to still be here! No more taking life for granted! I want to live each day to the fullest! I am grateful and thankful for my "new life" that I have been given. I have a loving wife and daughter who need me now more than ever. I have my health back (thanks be to God) and I have been blessed with my family and my friends who supported me (and still support me) to this day...and also by the kindness of many people who we didn't even know. I thank everyone who has been there for us!!

Now that I have looked back on this past year and I've had time to reflect on the things that happened in the past year, I am grateful that I am alive! I have my wife and daughter by my side. I have my health. I have faced the beast that is cancer and I came out clean on the other side. So in some ways, it's like I got a new life because of what we have gone through. Some might ask, "If you had to it to do all over again...would you go through it again?"  If this was a part of my journey, and it took this battle with cancer to get me to the point that I'm at now in my life, then of course I would go through it again, I wouldn't have traded this experience for anything!