Through the Valley
by John Krejci
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.”
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.
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This article was originally published in Coping® with Cancer magazine, November/December 2007.