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Devils Lake Journal - Devils Lake, ND
  • Lessons from Cancer: On vacation with terminal cancer

  • There’s so many things I could write about, and which one is a hard decision to make. I wanted this to be a great vacation where I could overlook anything that wasn’t just perfect, but is that realistic? I suspect that the majority of families have their issues that are made difficult by relationship dynamics a...
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  • There’s so many things I could write about, and which one is a hard decision to make. I wanted this to be a great vacation where I could overlook anything that wasn’t just perfect, but is that realistic? I suspect that the majority of families have their issues that are made difficult by relationship dynamics and the stresses on everyone of having a life limiting illness. So how do we get beyond them when our different viewpoints have the ability to skew the picture? Maybe because of the fact that my family is so small and spread out, there are more expectations than there should be. 
    Even though people’s good intentions might not necessarily involve the best decisions possible, we need to remember that when the patient is able to make their own decisions, that needs to be respected. After all, more than anyone else who wants what is best for me, I’m at the top of the list. 
    What I do want to focus on is the fact that I have a family who cares and cares a lot. After all, they wanted to come together to be with me and each other, and how incredible is that? One brother and sister in law flew in from the Pacific Northwest all the way to the East Coast, even though they had a huge amount of layovers and long flights. We haven’t seen them for years, and the fact that we are now together is very special. This reunion is long overdue, but hopefully it’s not too late to pick up where we left off. My grandchildren are getting to know their aunt and uncle and just loving the time spent with them. That is so special and I know it’s going to create a lasting bond and tons of memories. They’re spending time with their other aunt and uncle too, who they absolutely adore and it’s priceless that they get to see us all together as part of the whole.
    I get to be with my two brothers and have the incredible experience of remembering how life use to be, of all the fun times and memories of our childhoods. In the remembering, we realized just how fortunate we were for everything we experienced and can smile and laugh from way down deep inside because we were lucky in so many ways. Plus we get to talk about things that we never had before. We can celebrate our parents and how nice they made things for us and really appreciate them for all they did do, instead of what they didn’t. Just this time of remembering is so refreshing, and if I wasn’t here to experience it, I never would have known. So I am very grateful for having this time with them and for the awareness that has come out of it.
    Page 2 of 2 - Joyce Rothman of Massachusetts, a nurse for 40 years, was diagnosed with lung and pancreatic cancer in July 2010. Since then, she has been writing about her diagnosis, her treatment and her outlook on the process, in hopes of helping others. Follow her journey at http://makingsenseofitall.joycerothman.com.

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