Wednesday, February 29, 2012


"You are younger today than you ever will be again. Make use of it." Anonymous

Good old Anonymous hits the nail on the head again. Many life events have transpired to remind me over and over in recent weeks that life is oh-so-short and we have no guarantee that we will see even one more day of it. Almost daily the news has held stories of people dying unexpectedly - the car accident, the heart attack, the natural disaster. An even more vivid reminder for me has been the visit of #2 Redneck brother.

I have 2 Redneck brothers - a title which both of them wear proudly. #2 Redneck brother was here to do some doctoring up at the U. He has been living with a rather
rare form of cancer called Cutaneous T-cell lymphoma. The disease has taken him on a bit of a roller coaster since his diagnosis, as I'm sure you can all imagine. He was here because the treatment he had been under was no longer working to keep the disease sufficiently at bay. Thus the visit to the U - new chemo protocol.

One of the symptoms of this particular cancer is tumors that grow in the skin. Once the tumors reach a certain stage, they break open leaving the patient with what amounts to open sores on the body. There was a period of time where the sores were completely under control. About 6 months ago they began to reappear - the sign that the chemo regimen was no longer working.

Part of what my brother must do, then, is bandage those sores. They are painful, they bleed easily if bumped, scratched, or rubbed, and there are many of them. Each evening my brother takes his daily shower. It takes him approximately 30 minutes to unbandage before the shower. After the shower, a salve containing chemotherapy drugs must be applied to the sores. Then, he must re-bandage. The bandaging process takes 2 1/2 hours -- that's with help.

Hard to imagine - I know. But almost his entire body must be bandaged. His legs from ankle to mid thigh. His arms from wrist to shoulder. His torso from waist to neck, both front and back. He jokes about being a mummy. The bandaging keeps the sores clean reducing the chances of infection. The bandaging, practically speaking, protects his clothing, sheets, and furniture from bloodstains. The bandaging also helps in managing the amount of pain he experiences throughout the day.

My brother's attitude is incredibly positive. He sees no reason to stop fighting and give up. He sees no reason to whine and complain even though at times during the bandaging process the pain is so intense he has to grit his teeth to ride it out and it leaves him shaking afterward. He sees no reason to stop working and sit around the house. Instead, he sees the opportunity that is each day and he is taking full advantage of the ones that he has left.

The lesson could not be clearer. Take advantage of the opportunities that come your way. Tomorrow is not a promise for any of us - it is a wish. So when opportunity is in front of you - grab on to it. Hold it tight with both hands. Immerse yourself in it. Experience it. Enjoy it. Revel in it.

You may end up being pleasantly surprised. Your opportunity may turn out to be everything you hoped it would be. It might end up being a "mistake." You may end up with some of those regrets I spoke of last time. You may get hurt. But you will have lived. You will have lived fully. You will have chosen to experience everything that life has to offer you. No one will ever be able to take that experience away from you.

I've taken the opportunity of acquiring today's image from: