[This was prepared to be shared with the people of the Logan Cancer Recovery Group this evening.]
Since my last visit with you several years ago, a few things have happened in my life.
In 2010, I suffered a heart attack that took out 40% of my heart. Since then, a stent was implanted in an artery that had been 100% blocked and in 2011, as a precautionary measure, I received a defibrillator/pacemaker.
Also in 2011, a small spot of melanoma was found on my left leg and I underwent an outpatient surgical procedure at the James Center at Ohio State. A biopsy showed that there was no cancer in the surrounding area.
In 2012, I developed a stubborn rash that ultimately proved to be a symptom of Celiac Disease, a genetic condition that may or may not show up in he course of a person’s life. The thinking is that all that whole wheat I was eating to keep my heart healthy triggered the activation of the Celiac Disease. Because I still had a rash and both my wife and I were getting acclimated to the new gluten-free, wheat-free diet that is the only treatment that exists for Celiac, we had to cancel a planned visit with friends who live in France.
Shortly after the Celiac diagnosis, I told an old high school classmate: “It’s no biggie. Heart, cancer, and Celiac were all on my bucket list.” We laughed and he said, “Man, you gotta get a different list.”
Now, I’m doing well. Most days I do several miles of brisk walking. My heart is steady at about 60 beats per minute. My blood pressure, which has never been an issue, is, my doctor says, “perfect.”
There’s been no hint of skin cancer on any other part of my body.
And I’m actually enjoying the gluten-free diet.
After my last physical, my doctor declared that I was in “great shape.”
I can’t claim to have experienced anything like what many of you have gone through. But I have learned some things I either didn’t know or didn’t pay much attention to before my last visit with you. They’re probably things all of you know from your experiences. Nonetheless, they’re worth remembering.
So what are some of these lessons I’ve learned?
First: Any time we receive bad news about our health, we should remember that it isn’t always our faults. We know that smoking leaves us at heightened risk for heart attack and cancer. We know that not exercising and not getting immunized leaves us susceptible to all sorts of diseases. We know that it’s not wise to drive without securing our seat belts. There are common sense precautions we all can take to reduce our risk for diseases or accidents.
But sometimes bad things happen even to cautious people.
[To read the whole thing, go here. Be warned that the last lesson I learned is overtly Christian. If this may offend you, you may want to take a pass on reading the entire post. However, I will tell you that when I made this presentation to a diverse group of people last night, nobody appeared offended.]