Whose Battle Is This?
I sit here today in the waiting room of the Cancer Care Center of South Texas, waiting for them to call my name. Today will be treatment number 10 of 12. The room is filled with people who are sick. People who are facing the same enemy I face. It is already twenty minutes past my appointed time to see the doctor before beginning the 3 day long treatment. I don’t blame the delay on the doctors or the staff. There was a time that I would have, but not anymore. I blame it on the enemy. I blame it on cancer.
So many are here today. Some of their faces I have come to know. But every week there are new faces. I hear their names being called yet I do not know them. I don’t know their story or their cancer. I just know they are in the same prison camp that I am in.
On the small table beside my chair are magazines. Some of them want to tell me about which movie star is rising, or perhaps has fallen. Other magazines have pictures of healthy food on the cover. I didn't see any sports magazines after traveling to the bottom of this mountain of periodicals.
I placed them back neatly; the cover of one small digest caught my eye. There was a picture of an attractive woman. Next to her, printed in over-sized Arial font were the words “My Battle with Cancer”. In the cover picture she looked very healthy…good for her. In contrast to the faces sitting in this room she looked very, very healthy. I didn't read her story; her picture was enough to know the familiar tale.
But her portrait and the title, “My Battle with Cancer” slowly began to form a picture in my own mind. I added to this cerebral canvas the faces of all the people who occupied this waiting room with me. As the image formed, comprised of swirling dark grays, brilliant whites, the borders tinged in amber, I saw red begin to appear. The red pixels ran together like children on a playground, forming the words—
“Whose Battle is this?”
My inner voice, the other Jim (also known as The Pragmatic One”) whispered—
“It is not yours.”
He was correct.
This battle with colon cancer began more than nine months ago with a call from my doctor confirming tests results. The battle began with his phone call. At that moment, when the trumpets blasted the apocalyptic battle cry, I was cuffed and became a prisoner of this battle. The chains would prevent me from fighting a battle that was being waged against my very soul.
What could I do? What did I do?
I obediently followed the doctors’ instructions. Instructions that included submitting my body to the surgeon’s knife, lying quietly as test after test probed my body, sitting for hours upon hours as the chemotherapy drugs raced through the veins of my inflicted body. And I prayed.
All of these actions were done from a prostrated, sitting or kneeling potion. Not the fighting stance of a warrior.
“Whose Battle is this?”
I have come to realize that this battle has been fought by you.
I have sat patiently as a prisoner of my captor…you have fought valiantly.
The” you” is plural.
My team of warriors is led by my daughter, Sara Rose and my son, Joseph Tyler. They have been by my side from the beginning. They have helped and supported me. They have endured with me the pain and moods that are a direct result of the chemo treatments. They have adjusted their own lives to deal with my loss of appetite caused by drugs and constant mouth sores. They have waited when I had not the strength to move. They have rejected the thought of a future without their Dad.
Included in this first but small platoon is my almost two year old grandson, Logan James. He doesn't understand the battle. He doesn't even know that one is raging. Yet he always seems to know when Grandpa needs a hug. He has also learned not to pull on the tubes that extrude from my chest. A young unknowing warrior.
The second platoon (2nd by numbers only) is the people that make up the “Hirtle Family”. My mother, my sisters, my brother, my son and his family, my daughters and their families, nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews, cousins…they have all stood by me, supported me, prayed with me, fought for me. They are mighty warriors.
A third platoon is comprised of many friends and fellow workers who, from even great distances, have offered support in every conceivable manner. Their words, written and verbally, have offered encouragement, sentiments, love and kindness. They have reached into their own pockets and helped financially for something they have no claim or stake in. They are magnificent champions.
And I cannot forget the medical staff. Although it seems at times that they are aiding the enemy in their efforts as they pump the cancer killing chemicals into my system, I know better. It is not only their professional efforts that fight this battle, but it is also the care and concern they show every week. It is their motivational words of encouragement that are seamlessly delivered each and every time I see them. They are on the front line, providing the weapons, spending hours upon hours by my side as I crumble away, putting the pieces back together. They are super soldiers.
“Whose Battle is this?”
It has been yours. And I can only say “Thank you. “
I wish it was over. I wish I could send the warriors home.
Two more treatments. Two more skirmishes. I still need you.
I learned a new word today—thrombocytopenia. Learned it, can’t say it.
It means my blood platelets are decreasing. Last week my white blood cell count was also decreasing.
What does all this mean? I don’t know.
I don’t care.
I don’t care because I know that God and warriors are on my side. You are the warrior.
I love you and I thank you.
See you on V-day.