May 13, 2013
Just as I was preparing to leave my mother’s home on my way back to San Diego two weeks ago, Mother said she wanted to give me one more thing. It was her picture taken just a few weeks earlier for her church directory. I’m sharing it with you. You would never guess looking at it that Mother is now 91 and a half years old. She is amazing! What a blessing she is to her extended family. She has her health challenges, but in many ways is in better health, and has a much sharper mind, than me. Happy Mother’s Day (plus one)! I love you
This week marks a major milestone in my life. It was May 15, 2008 I heard the results of my biopsy – “Mr. Jenkins, you have CANCER”. I guess that makes me a 5-year survivor. I owe so much to many people, especially Dr. Charles Kossman, my oncologist who has become a dear friend. Plato said, “The greatest mistake in the treatment of diseases is that there are physicians for the body and physicians for the soul, although the two cannot be separated.” I could not have asked for better physical and spiritual care from Dr. Kossman and Dr. Frank Gaylis, urologist, who continue to care for and encourage me physically and spiritually.
Of course Anita is my biggest support. And most of all, I thank God for His gracious healing.
I’ve learned many lessons in the past five years, particularly that every day is too precious to waste on worry and fear. But one of the best lessons came while undergoing follow-up radiation treatments after prostate cancer surgery. In this tenth year of the E-Vangel Newsletter, I have shared a few Pastorgraphs from days gone by. This one is from January 2009 as I completed adjunctive radiation therapy.
Pastorgraphs: “Survivor – (A Rerun)”
January 27, 2009
He is speech impaired, so I didn't get his name. Over the past weeks, we have become pals. I almost said we have become "friends", but I am probably guilty of calling everyone my friend, which diminishes those time-tested true friendships that are in fact special and life-enriching. Hope that means I just like people...and easily identify people as friends, or pals.
We have been meeting daily at 8:00 AM in Dr. Sharazi's waiting room for our back-to-back radiology treatments.
Our first encounter did not get off to a good start. I spoke to him and his wife (small talk) but they did not respond. Awkward, I thought. No, downright rude! Then I realized they are both hearing and speech impaired. I was ashamed of thinking they ignored me. So I resorted to a friendly hand wave as we met and left each day. He has a very pleasant smile.
The past couple weeks, we began communicating more with sign language. Since I do not know official hand signals, it was very primitive, but effective communication. We learned two people can overcome any obstacle if they work at it.
Last Thursday, my pal came in after I did. He sat down, waved to me, and smiled. Then he held up four fingers. He counted them off. One, he communicated, was for that day's treatment (since he pointed back to the treatment room). Then he slowly counted off the three remaining treatments.
So I asked, "You only have four treatments left?" He must be a good lip reader as he smiled and nodded his head "yes". I said, "Me too," holding up four fingers. Then he held up nine fingers, signifying he was completing a nine week regiment (45 treatments). I held up seven fingers for seven weeks, or 35 treatments.
Today, my pal and I graduated from our first-hand course in radiation. I had one more message for him. Pointing to myself, I folded my hands in prayer, and pointed to him and his wife. My simple way of saying, "I will be praying for you." And then in the universal language, I gave my pal a hug. I wanted to say, "I love you!" His reply was one more hand gesture: a thumbs up, which spoke to me; "We are going to be OK".
Neither my pal nor I wanted to join this club, but we have learned there are some wonderful members wearing the blue ribbon, if we just take the time to get to know each other. We learned another thing: Men, who don't communicate about much (especially asking for directions when we are lost, much less about something as private as PROSTATE cancer) can and must communicate as freely as women do about their health issues.
One in six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer. One in 35 men die of prostate cancer. Next to skin cancer, it is the most common cancer among men. My pal and I are in the club, and we set off today on a new journey: treatment completed...life as a cancer SURVIVOR begun.
Devotedly, Bill Jenkins, cancer survivor,
(Now, make that: cancer survivor, 5 years!)
From the Quote Garden:
“Cancer is a journey, but you walk the road alone. There are many places to stop along the way and get nourishment - you just have to be willing to take it.”
~ Emily Hollenberg ~
In case you didn’t see this on Facebook, I had a power lunch with my main man, Jacob, last Tuesday. We solved several major world problems. We obviously had a great visit. Jacob’s mom, Tiffani Tran Chuck, is one of my former SDSU students and later valued technology colleague. I am so proud of Tiffani, the consummate successful professional with a major company now living in Houston, TX. Would like to say I taught her everything she knows, but truth is, I learned far more from her.
Thanks Tiffani for taking time to see me on your trips back to San Diego, and especially for taking this picture. I love it! Love to you and Santiago and Jacob.
And I almost forgot, Jacob is expecting a little sister in a few months…so more pictures to follow.
Christ United Methodist Ministry Center
“Christ in the Heart of San Diego”
3295 Meade Avenue - San Diego, CA 92116 - (619) 284-9205