Last Tuesday, I gave one of my career workshops at Career Network Ministry, a community outreach program that provides ministry and support to anyone in a work life transition.
It was around a quarter past eight in the evening, and I was closing up to go home for the night. As I was about to shut down my laptop, a gentleman approached me and said, “I am praying for you as you’re going through this difficult time.” I politely responded “thank you.” At that moment, I reached down to grab my business bag to put away the laptop, and he continued with a sympathetic look on his face, “So, how are you r-e-a-l-l-y doing?".
(I immediately thought … “Oh no! Not another ‘overly-display-of-concern-and-worrisome’ individual,” who feels compelled to – although yet innocently – invoke an anxious and sympathetic response from me).
“You are displaying great courage and attitude, but you must be …” he hesitated to go on. [a pause] “If it was me, I am not too sure if I could be doing these workshops like you.”
I politely replied [again], “Thank you for your prayers” and continued to close up.
I was a bit tired … well … really tired. He was still standing there in front of me. I then gave him a gentle smile, and with a nonverbal body gesture I indicated that I must close up for the evening. With a genial “good-bye”, he turned around and left the classroom.
For the rest of the week I thought about his comments.
And I began to think about this fighting attitude of mine: Was it for real? Or maybe just a persona to show others how tough I am?
I decided to go back to the first blog I wrote back in 2013, when first diagnosed with cancer. Surprisingly, I used the word "fight" or "fighting" 256 times, in 121 blogs.
The first time I used the word "fight" was in a blog titled, "The mini-blessings found in cancer" (Nov. 16, 2013). I described how Teresa took her stance right beside me, by dealing directly with the health insurance company ... taking care of the medical appointments ... making sure that I took my medication at the proper times ... serving as my advocate to the medical staff ... and continuously being available to help me. Then I realized, after reading this blog, why I fight!
The fighting attitude just came about naturally. It could quite possibly be from the culmination of years of experiences and other influences that have served as instruments to cultivate this fighting spirit. Whatever the “how” that gave me this fighting spirit, what I do know are the reasons that buttress the core essence of my fighting spirit: 1) I fight to give God the glory and honor for what He has done for me in life; 2) to honor my wife, for her love, dedication and commitment to me; 3) for the many selfless hands that have helped me throughout life; 4) to show others how to respond to life’s piercing spears; and 5) for me.
First, I fight for God … to give Him the glory and honor for what He has done for me in life. Who I am today…what I am today…where I am today…is but by the grace of God (1 Corinthians 15:10). When I was first diagnosed with cancer in 2013, and then again this year, during both times in the early days of the initial and reoccurrence, I experienced His amazing presence and peace – an “All is well with my soul” encounter. My faith has never been stronger. Even though my “flesh and my heart may fail,” I know without a doubt that He will strengthen my heart and be with me forever (Psalm 73:23-26).
Second, I fight for my wife … to honor Teresa’s love, dedication and commitment to me. She deserves every ounce of fighting persistence so that I can maintain a healthy and long life, in spite of cancer. I realize how much I love my wife, and especially how beautiful my Venus truly is. Since the diagnosis, her beauty and virtues have seized my heart like never before. I am enraptured by how the strands of her golden hair caresses her beautiful face when she tilts her head down. I stand in awe by the way she has taken her stand to fight against this cancer alongside me. Our hugs have increased dramatically. My eyes gaze at her looks unceasingly. I yearn for a long life with Teresa; to grow old with her. Yes, I realize how much I love my wife … and more importantly, how much I want to fight for her.
Third, I fight for the many selfless hands that have helped me throughout life … to show my gratitude to all those who have invested their time, friendship, and generosity for the sole benefit of the quality of my life. Starting with my former teacher and on the wrestling coach, Jim Linder, who gave his personal time outside the classroom and wrestling mat; to Marvin and Rose Hill, through their Christian generosity, they took me into their home to be a part of their family. These are just two examples of the “Good Samaritans”, among many others (like a kaleidoscope of caring hands), who’ve extended their hearts and selfless deeds for my benefit. In effect, part of my fighting spirit is an exemplification of their living legacy.
Fourth, I fight to show others how to respond to life’s piercing spears … to show others that we – as human beings – possess the innate ability to choose ‘how’ to respond to life’s trials and struggles. One of my favorite heroes in life is Viktor Frankl, a survivor of a concentration camp during World War II. He believed that “everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way” (Man’s Search for Meaning, 1946).
Lastly, I fight for me … to learn, endure, and overcome life’s struggles on this narrow rugged path of mine. For I know for certain that in what lies ahead is the fruit of knowing His purpose in cancer; a chance to grow and be reformed, despite the pressure of His anvil. In fact, since being diagnosed with cancer in 2013, I have experienced Him in ways like no other, like soft “Heavenly Kisses.”
So, as I continue to face this health challenge of mine, the one thing that comes easy is to fight it. And not only do I have my reasons of why I fight … I also consider it my primary responsibility to live a long life; if not for myself, but more importantly for my loved ones.