Thursday, October 6, 2011

"Dying or Going on Vacation . . . "

My Dad used to say of his sister, Margaret Ann, that every time he talked to her she was either dying or going on vacation.  I don't know if that was an original phrase with him or one that had been part of a lexicon of expressions that he had heard growing up. 

My brother, Tim, and I were discussing that phrase shortly before I left on my trip for Europe.  I was telling him that if I found out I had cancer (the curse of our family), I would immediately try to assess my odds.  If I felt that it was incurable, I would book a vacation immediately as I have no intention of extending my life with "treatments" that might give me a few more unbearable months.  I want to LIVE the life I've been given.

Tim holding Dad's motor
Not long after my return from Europe, Tim came by the house with the results of his CT scan.  It showed a "solid appearing mass" in his left kidney that "should be considered a malignant lesion until proven otherwise."  He referred to our earlier conversation and asked if I didn't find it ironic that the last time we had spoken, it was about whether or not I would "go on vacation" if I got a cancer diagnosis.

Well, we could definitely agree that we needed more information before we could decide whether to schedule a vacation.  Thankfully, with everyone's prayers, support and concern behind him, Tim got the best possible news.  Additional tests verified that his lungs were clear and the "hot spots" in his back were arthritis -- what Tim calls the "Jones back."  His kidney was removed yesterday and, at this point, his surgeon doesn't think he will even need chemo.  The tumor appeared to be pretty intact.

Coincidentally, Steve Jobs (founder of Apple) died yesterday at the age of 56. You can't log on today without reading quotes from a commencement address he gave at Stanford in 2005.  The predominate theme seems to be one of encouraging each of us to identify what is important to us in our lives and go about achieving our dream -- not that of someone else.  Jobs, who had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, confronts his immortality head on.  It gives him focus.  One of my favorite quotes is this one:  "Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life."

So I'm happy to report that Tim does not have to decide between dying and going on vacation -- at least not yet.  I know all of us have felt the love and support of everyone during this difficult time -- and Dad and Mom -- I certainly felt you.


  1. It was a wonderful relief to hear of Tim's good news.

  2. I'm so happy for your brother's positive news, Kathy. Beautiful post sharing it!

  3. This is a lovely post, and not having to make that decision is the best news! Will include your brother in my prayers, just cause, it never hurts.


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