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Through the Valley

by John Krejci

For over two decades, celebrities have entrusted Coping® to tell the world about their personal experience with cancer. We are proud to present this exclusive interview from our archives and hope that it will inspire and encourage all who read it. This article was originally published in Coping with Cancer magazine, November/December 2007.

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On my 69th birthday, I was told that my PSA was off the chart, an almost sure sign that I had advanced prostate cancer. Despite the relatively asymptomatic nature of prostate cancer, I was not greatly surprised. However, a definitive diagnosis of advanced, incurable prostate cancer is at best a wakeup call, at worst a life threatening judgment. My life would never be the same again.

I am convinced that an unequivocal positive attitude and a confident reliance on the healing powers of the body through our God-given immune system are essential to dealing with cancer. I do not expect my cancer to be cured. I will be satisfied with coming to terms with it – perhaps a standoff. Like North and South Korea, a 50-year truce. I guess the medical term might be “remission.”

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At 69, John continues to play hockey.

It has been more than three months since my diagnosis. My initial treatments seem to have been successful. I feel as though I have walked (stumbled?) through the valley of darkness and am emerging, a bit weakened and chastened, into the light of a normal existence. One of my personal therapies is increased physical activity. At age 69, I am determined to continue playing ice hockey. I also try to eat right and sleep adequately. But most of all, I maintain a positive attitude. I find that I pray more, I drive less aggressively, and I move more slowly and deliberately.

The world of cancer, which I have entered, has changed the way I look at everything: my life, my relationships, the trees, the sky. I hope I am more gentle, more caring, more sensitive to others, more open, and more flexible. I find that my priorities have changed. I still feel passionately about certain issues, but I realize that they do not depend solely on my efforts. In many ways, my life is richer.

I have learned that cancer can be treated as a chronic illness. There will be highs and lows, peaks and valleys. I have gone through the first “valley of tears” and am now on a high plateau, perhaps moving toward a peak. My prayer and hope is that I will have the courage, strength, and grace to again face the darkness of the next valley, should it come.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

This article was published in Coping® with Cancer magazine, November/December 2007.