Waiting All of My Life
by Theodore R. Westfall
The nagging pain had been distracting me for over a week. Laura, sitting next to me, had been distracting me much longer.
Riding together in my car, I reached for Laura's hand while pushing “Play” on the CD player. The lyrics spoke for me: “I've been waiting all of my life for a girl like you.” She squeezed my hand back. We both had lived six decades of life, but the pheromones felt as exciting now as when we were still teenagers.
When we arrived back to my apartment, I winced as the nagging pain worsened. Laura urged me to see a doctor as soon as possible. A colonoscopy confirmed that a large polyp had penetrated the intestinal wall. I learned that it had been there for possibly ten years. I was diagnosed with Stage III colon cancer.
Three months after surgery, Laura and I took a cruise. I hid in a corner of the ship wearing a long sleeved shirt and wide brimmed hat, shading myself from the sun. “When I beat this thing,” I thought aloud, “I will spend my life on the water and traveling the country.” Laura's face showed her disappointment. Being closely attached to her children and grandchildren, she didn't share my enthusiasm.
Sadly, I began to see that we had different goals in life. Having no children of my own, I longed for the quiet isolation of my apartment. I needed all of my energy to focus on my healing. Our days in the sun as carefree young-at-heart lovers had burned out. Hugging Laura goodbye, I wished her well as I ended our future together.
I began the next phase of my life living with cancer, grateful for the healthcare I was receiving and the support of my employer and coworkers. At home, I found solitude, surrounded by my music and my dreams.
Now, seven years later, I am one of the lucky men coping with cancer. Laura is married, and her husband is now my fishing buddy. Shortly after my five-year survival, I met my lovely wife, Carole. She sits beside me hand-in-hand listening to a song I dedicate just to her: “I've been waiting all of my life for a girl like you.”
Hey guys, don't laugh. At my age, I haven't time to learn new tricks when the old ones still work just fine.
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
This article was originally published in Coping® with Cancer magazine, July/August 2008.