As we were putting up the Christmas tree, it brought me back to a Christmas that wasn’t so good. It was December 2003, and I had just returned from St. John’s and what was the most difficult thing I had ever undergone. At the time, I had a large tumor removed from my neck, and it was suspected by the entire group of Oncologists at the Health Science Center that it was cancerous. Still, for some reason, I remained as hopeful and brave as could be expected.
My family were exactly the opposite. My brother looked like hell and appeared that he was going to have a heart attack. Being a health care professional (a Pharmacist), I guess he knew exactly how serious my tumor was, (seeing that it was connected to the nerves leading to my brain). My dad didn’t fair well either, he worried constantly that the thing was going to come back. I had a sister living away, and for her, seeing me sick was complete torture. My mom was strong, but I could tell from her face that she worried. The one strong person in my family was my youngest sister. She had been the family sook, but when things got rough, she stood to the challenge.
The most difficult part of the entire ordeal was sitting and watching them suffer. We are a very close family, and prior to this, none of us had to withstand any serious illness. As I said, I was incredibly strong at the time, I truly believed that everything would work out.
My first day home was most difficult. For some reason, relatives seem to remember you when you are sick. These are the same relatives that you never see any other time. They all came to pay their respects, bearing gifts such as bottled moose and rabbit, homemade pies and cake. That’s it when you live in a close knit community where nearly everyone is family. We care!….even if it hurts!
I remember mom decorating the tree. While she was with me at the hospital (some 700 kms away from home), my dad tried to decorate it, and you could tell that his spirit wasn’t into it, as the tree looked as if it were dropped from an airplane, right through the roof of his house. I know it was difficult for them, as the doctor wasn’t very hopeful that the tumor wouldn’t come back and kill me. And what timing…Christmas time!
My brother was especially gluey. The independent one of the family, he rarely showed any emotion about anything and never ever spoke of his feelings, but this time, he couldn’t stay away. He wanted me to move in with him and his wife while I healed. I couldn’t do that, I am one person who truly needs his space!
We ate well that Christmas! All the goodies that were brought for me proved to be quite filling (except for me, being a diabetic, I couldn’t exactly enjoy all those sweets) and I believe that the togetherness of the family actually helped me heal.
I was put off work for five weeks, which worked quite well because after five minutes of talking, my jaw locked up completely and I couldn’t speak a word. After three weeks, work had me drove crazy to return, often calling to ask my advice on the computer system that ran the store, or about various products in the store (Radio Shack). On the last I said the hell with it and returned to work early (against my doctor’s orders). I stayed for two months, and after receiving a call from the hospital stating that more tumor was found, I had to leave for more tests. Eleven MRI’s followed, and with all the travel to and from the city, the store didn’t give me the required time off to go for testing. I told them to stick their job. My life was worth more than the shitty salary I was being paid.
This all worked out quite well. After another four or five MRI’s, I was given a good bill of health. I returned to school and obtained a diploma in Community Studies. I used the skills I had been taught to form my own non profit volunteer organization, and got federal funding to run a program that united youth and seniors living in retirement homes together on weekends. The program was very successful for a number of years. While in college, I met a beautiful, warm hearted lady who I am marrying in the summer of 2014, and her son, who I am now raising as my own.
The entire ordeal made me realize what was important in life. I learned that you should never take anything for granted; it can be taken away as quick as a flash. I learned that a person should never be ashamed of how they look or what they have. I learned that love is the most important thing in life, and that a happy, healthy family is the best thing ever. I also learned to trust my own instincts and to believe in the Good Lord. He makes everything possible. Merry Christmas to everyone who reads this. I would like to thank everyone who has ever dropped by this site for a read, and I offer a special thanks to everyone who has taken the time to leave a comment. Thank You from Sightsnbytes (Ted White) and my family.