Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Cancer Glasses

When I was about six or seven years old I began wearing glasses for reading, having been diagnosed as far-sighted. I always wondered if it had something to do with the fact that I learned to read at a very young age, and reading had become my favorite hobby. Having glasses in a really stylish case was kind of fun, but the novelty soon wore off and my glasses went the way of my piano lessons at that age: a nice idea, but not for now. Besides, I could still read just fine.

Later, in my teens, I was diagnosed as near-sighted. I could see okay, but sometimes I would get headaches reading the blackboard at school or watching movies. The long-neglected reading glasses were replaced with a new pair of glasses for use in school and at the movies. Again, I tried it for a while, but the novelty wore off, and I went "au naturel" with my eyes again before too long.

In college I had an eye exam and was told that I was neither far-sighted nor near-sighted. I had "perfect...better than 20/20 vision", according to the eye doctor. No glasses anymore, which was good, since I had no idea where those old glasses had gone anyway. And I was happy to know that I was seeing things the right way.

Around the same time, my mom started wearing reading glasses. She had never worn glasses before, but she had just finished law school, and I guess all that extra reading had taken its toll.

My dad and my youngest brother have both worn corrective lenses since they were babies. Another brother started on lenses in college, and another is lens-free, like my husband and me. Well, or at least like I used to be.

Now I have new glasses: Cancer Glasses. They don't have rims or lenses, but they are real in the sense that they have changed the way I see everything. (Figuratively, of course. I am aware, after all, that this cancer might eventually make me go blind.)

I now see each evening as a chance to give thanks for another day of life. Especially each day of life when I could be with my family.

I see Thursday (my weekly blood draw day) as the day NOT to do upper body workouts. Veins need a break that day.

I see phytonutrients as crave-able food, and bacon as toxic waste.

I see my Temodar week (chemo taken on an empty stomach at bedtime) as "diet week", because there is no evening snacking.

I see my bike as "Lance Armstrong Therapy".

I see EVERYTHING as a neuro test.

I see my business as a fortunate circumstance that was already in place when I needed a flexible schedule where I could work from home in sickness and in health.

I see my Mary Kay makeup as a reminder of how well that company takes care of us with their employee and spouse benefits, and with their family-friendly focus. (Buy lots of their stuff!!)

I see adversity as an opportunity to draw nearer to God as I seek His help, and an opportunity to develop compassion for someone in similar circumstances. Also, an opportunity to lose my inner control freak. ("Let go and let God.")

I see my children as my reason to survive. Also, as my reminder that blessings sometimes come in unexpected ways.

I FINALLY see trivial stuff as just that -- trivial. "The most important thing to remember is that the most important thing is the most important thing." The rest is just details.

I see some really funny stuff, even in the world of cancer. If you don't know what I mean, you just haven't seen my hair. You must not get asked to stick your tongue out at your doctor every month. You must not have spent much time lying in a noisy tube, feeling like toothpaste sitting on an airport runway. Erma Bombeck was right - if you can laugh at something, you can live with it. I'm hoping that cancer is something I can live with, instead of just die from. And so I guess that's why things get so darn funny every now and then.

I see miracles and blessings every day. Once you start acknowledging them, they become impossible to miss, and you find yourself surrounded. ("Some may see a rainbow as nothing more than light; others see a promise and a sign.")

I could go on, but suffice it to say that when life becomes precious, you see things for what they are. The real treasures in life are more brilliant, and the "zircons" of life are more obviously fake. And life itself becomes more colorful, more delicious, and more worthy of gratitude.

Cancer glasses correct "near-sightedness" (or short-sightedness), making it easier to focus on the long-term, and making it easier to see things in their true light. They provide a valuable perspective.

It would be nice if the cancer itself would only last as long as my enthusiasm for my first pair of glasses. However, regardless of how long it lasts, I hope the glasses stay for good.


Kristine said...

I have a dear friend who's "vision" has been changed by cancer glasses. It has helped change my vision too. Thanks for your insight.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post. I was just diagnosed with Stage 0 breast cancer, far less life-threatening than glioblastoma, but frightening nevertheless. As I wait to begin treatment, I am uplifted by your marvellous testimonies!

Take care,

from the infertility group, years ago