A year has passed since my husband was diagnosed with stage three lymphoma. The haematologist said that my husband can opt to “watch and wait” and not proceed with chemotherapy unless the symptoms of the disease change.
We have lived an almost normal life for the past year, but are bluntly reminded of reality whenever we go to the hospital for his medical checkup. Like this trip—I was seated beside my husband at the Cancer Centre of the hospital as we waited to see the TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) doctor. We were surrounded by different people: middle-age, elderly, some are alone, some came with families. But all of them have one thing in common—cancer.
For me, a wife of a husband with lymphoma, a daughter with a biological father, mother, stepfather with cancers, and friends too; I have been in and out of the hospital environment, especially the cancer ward since 2010.
I have the cancer-patient image blazed into my memory cells. Bald, skin-and-bones scrawny. Their expressions, sometimes downcast, solemn, even fearful. Occasionally brave, with a smile.
In the cold of the air-conditioned waiting room, the whites of the hospital wall, the bending of the heads of people looking at their phones, the blank looking-into-the-distance expressions—I often wonder, what’s on their mind?
Maybe my husband heard my thought.
“I wanna do what I want while I still can,” said my husband out of the blue as we sat down for our cafeteria lunch, post-appointment with the TCM doctor.
I looked up from my meal to him, paused for a few seconds and declared,”You know, just now when I stepped out of the cold hospital to get some fresh air and sunshine, I looked up to the blue skies, and this thought came into my mind: we need to change our lifestyle.”
It’s not that we are living a dangerous lifestyle. I think we are above average concerning taking care of our health, with our food and exercises. But I just felt these words in my mind…we need to have:
More dependence on God
More letting go
It has been a very tough two years for us. Dealing with cancer of self and others, illnesses, caregiving, hospitals, death, family crisis, work crisis, work, etc. If anything, to me, these two years is an accelerated course in maturity.
Though it has taken an emotional toll on us; we’ve pulled through by the grace of God and prayer. Thank God our marriage relationship strengthened through the trials as we each formed a pillar of support for each other. We’ve pulled through too, through love being given to others and received from others. Love—soften all the blows of life.
Perhaps we’ll tweak “I wanna do what I want while I still can” to “I wanna do what I need to do while I still can”.
We’ll go on living with a renewed vision of being even more intentional with our lives.
To serve people.
To do some of the things we like that make our souls very pleased and happy, like travelling. (Double yay!)
To look at the bigger picture—life on earth is merely a journey as we are pilgrims on the way to eternity with God.
To manage or remove unhelpful external circumstances when we can; to learn to let go when we can’t.
To forgive ongoing, recurring hurts from people. (This is still tough for me.)
To learn how to de-stress.
To adopt the mindset of less is more; living a simpler life.
And because we can trust in an all-knowing, all-powerful, all-present Almighty God—to keep learning and practising living with these golden words:
Instead of worrying, pray.
Let it go.
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