Enormous Benefit and Entertainment

Cancer – I am getting tired of the subject… so this should be my last general cancer blog for awhile – I hope!  I have to write this – it is one of my most powerful lessons learned, but it is also quite personal to me.    “Enormous Benefit” is the title I have chosen because I heard the phrase today in church.   Our good friend, Jack, was speaking on the subject of the Atonement and trials— he has certainly had more than his share (including stage 4 cancer).  He pointed out the enormous benefit that trials are in our lives… Can I just say that if we lived in the South I may have stood up and shouted Hallelujah Brother!!
Regarding the enormous benefit of trials, I am going to include what I wrote following Greg’s treatments:

This is the experiment I have tried and found to be most helpful:  I knew that the trials in my life had proved to be some of the most positive experiences when they were over.   I was always most thankful for these times of life because I had become stronger and my relationship with the Lord was strengthened as well.  At some point during the first month or two I was thinking about this.  I was also aware that this experience would bless Greg’s life in the future even more than mine.
  I wondered why should I wait until it was over to be thankful???  I decided to be thankful during the experience rather than waiting.  It was difficult at first, but soon changed my way of thinking and the way I viewed things.  
At the same time it cannot be denied that there are many, many difficult times involved… but why must difficult be so awful?  Isn’t strength a good thing?  Another positive aspect of trials is to later to able to help a friend who is going through a similar experience.
One thing that I struggled with a time or two was watching Greg’s friends and other teens have a fun school year while he lay in a hospital bed, even when he was at home he was sick so much of the time.  Sometimes I resented their freedom and wondered if they ever thought about Greg’s great success at just being able to take a shower with the use of a shower chair.  These thoughts never lingered more than a couple minutes.  I just had to remind myself of the truth that I had uncovered – this was all making Greg into a stronger individual – and those negative thoughts would just go away.
I could have chosen to dwell on these things, but that is not the experience I had chosen for myself.

What I remember about that decision is this… I knew that the concept was a true concept and that I would find much to be grateful for over the years.  However, I felt it was important to be grateful as we went along.  That is one to realize and another thing to implement.  It took several tries before I could include the words “I thank thee for Greg’s cancer” in my prayers.  I really did want to say this; and found myself unable to get the words out for three days.  Saying it, and meaning it, gave me strength.  I believe that we were one month into chemotherapy at the time.  Here is the miracle that I recognized later – when we learned that Jackie’s tumor was malignant – I didn’t want it, I didn’t welcome it… but I was grateful in a very sincere way.  I just knew immediately that this was God’s plan for her and I was thankful, even in the midst of my sorrow.  To someone who has not had this experience, it may seem strange, but I think it is beautiful.  I had been changed for the better.

Here is a quote I ran across yesterday:  “The Purpose of Trials – Our Heavenly Father, who gives us so much to delight in, also knows that we learn and grow and become stronger as we face and survive the trials through which we must pass.  …Such difficulties allow us to change for the better, to rebuild our lives in the way Heavenly Father teaches us, and to become something different from what we were – better than we were, more understanding than we were, more empathetic than we were, with stronger testimonies than we had before.”  Pres. Thomas S. Monson

Humor Helps!

If this is the last that I want to talk about cancer for awhile – I am going to finish up with one of my favorite stories.  I will try to find the picture of Greg in his mad scientist wig.  A little background – when Greg was diagnosed he made up this mind “to be a breath of fresh air around that place [the hospital].”  He really was too.  The nurses used to argue about who would get to be his nurse because he was always so pleasant.  Humor and happiness played a large part of his treatment.   Mornings in the hospital were always very busy with visits from nurses, nurse practitioners, CNAs doing vitals, the teacher, and a good sized team (or 2) of doctors with their medical students.   On this particular morning he woke up and put on his mad-scientist wig before anyone came in.  I helped him arrange the blankets to cover the gray hair so only the bald head was exposed and he turned away from the door.  The various health care worker entered his room, saw that he appeared to be asleep and tip-toed over to my side of the room to talk quietly.  When they were very near, I would say that he was just waking and he would pretend to wake up and stretch – slowly letting the blankets fall away.  It was so funny, we got some great reactions.  His nurse practitioner, Amy, came in before the team of doctors and she had a quite a laugh.  She then went to the doctors and asked them to look closely at Greg’s forehead because she was concerned at something she had seen.  They came in and leaned right over before getting the shock.  They were all doubled over in giggles.  Amy brought in a few other people that morning…  she loved the joke.  Greg pulled it all off without even a grin, he acted totally normal.  I was probably the more amused than any of them.

Our favorite twins came every week!
Elvis sighting!


One thought on “Enormous Benefit and Entertainment

  1. I am deeply grateful for your insights and that you are willing to share them. Each of us carries our own personal burdens, but the idea that we can be grateful in the midst of them is emancipating.

    Thank you.


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