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Christmas encouragement

This Christmas encouragement was written for Christmas time, but could be a source of encouragement to someone, somewhere throughout the entire year.

Some Christmas encouragement ...a gift well received by  many

As I thought about posting a Merry Christmas Wish to all of you who celebrate this time of year, I reflected back on what I was experiencing during the Christmas season of 1990.

It reminded me of how hard it is sometimes to feel the joy of the holidays as it's portrayed in all the songs and TV shows.

The top ten Christmas gifts, I couldn't tell you, but Christmas encouragement would be welcomed and at the top for anyone experiencing serious health problems!

So I'm going to tell you this to offer some Christmas encouragement to someone who may need it.

My Christmas of 1990

Earlier in that year my squamous cell carcinoma had advanced to stage 4. In the month of July, I was admitted to the hospital for my first round of chemotherapy (cisplatin).

In August came my second round and then in September came my last round. My life had changed forever.


I was exhausted and hairless. :)


It shrunk the tumor, but by October it grew back and spread to my throat and on the other side of my neck.

So in October they did surgery (a bilateral radical neck dissection). I survived after 12 hours on the operating table.

They were able to get 98% of it. My life again was changed forever.

"98%" meant I still had some cancer!

Now what?

Radiation ...I was told.

The doctors said it's my only chance to get rid of the rest of it and that essentially, it was my only chance. If it didn't work they would never be able to use radiation again and have me survive.

They began in early December ...just weeks before Christmas. I wasn't thinking much about Christmas.

I didn't ask many questions at all, because I didn't want to hear any negative answers or anything that would be discouraging.

I just let them begin and didn't think of anything else except getting through this struggle and GETTING ON WITH MY LIFE!

I did feel discouraged, worried, frightened and emotionally misunderstood. Yes ...I did, but I kept telling myself that each day, even though I didn't feel like it, that I was a little closer to being well again, yet the radiation made me feel worse each day.

The treatments lasted about 31 days and, I'll say it again, they got tougher with each day.

I could never leave the radiation room fast enough to get to the restroom and start spewing my guts out.

It was killing me as well as the cancer. I developed burning sores all inside my mouth. I craved certain foods, but couldn't eat anything without immediately getting nauseous. I was down to about 98 lbs.

But now 100% of the cancer was gone!

Christmas had past when I was given this news. It was good to hear those words, but it didn't make me feel any better physically. I still needed to find some Christmas encouragement.

My face and neck looked like a skinny little stick with an ugly balloon attached to the top of it.

It's true! I would smile whenever I said this to anyone, but it lightened up the spirit and gave us a smile, sometimes a laugh...in fact, I was giving my own self a little Christmas encouragement.


Through all of that I still got up every morning during all my days spent home and walked for an hour, no matter what the weather ...and again another hour every night! ...Continued below>>



But First Take A Break And Have a Laugh!

During the time of those treatments there were some generous people who helped to keep food on the table and the lights on. I will always be grateful to them.

We even had a Christmas tree but little money. I remember going to the grocery store and paying for a cart full of groceries.

When I pulled out my money to pay, a $100 bill fell on the floor and I didn't notice it ....until I got home. I tried going back to ask about it, but no one had found it or turned it in (as if I expected that to happen). :(

I felt bad ...how stupid of me! ...I felt troubled by not being able to support my wife, newborn baby girl and a 12 year old stepson with all this happening.

Guess what, the very next day a couple showed up at our house (3-4 days before Christmas) with a pickup truck full of groceries, gifts and an envelope of money.

...Talk about raising the encouragement level for Christmas, this was doing it.

I didn't even know them. The lady was a sister to a woman that I worked with and was filling in my position at Emmanuel Stained Glass Studio while I was gone.

The couple had been raising money, and gathering these groceries and gifts for months. I'll never forget them, but I haven't been able to locate their whereabouts in these last few years.

So if you're having hard times during this Christmas season, you have my deepest sympathy, but above all else, as hard as it may seem, laugh with your family or your friends ...got any children around? ...your own ...or grandkids? Just look at them, smile ...be silly with them ...play with them.

Just try!...........There were times when I didn't think I could, but if I worked at it long enough ...I smiled ...I laughed ...and it was like a temporary vacation.


 During all those treatments I was doing my best to follow a Healthy Lifestyle and I still do. I believe that has a lot to do with why I am here today wishing you a Merry Christmas!


To those with early stage skin cancer

Consider it a Christmas gift that you were able to detect it in the early stages. Keep getting the proper treatment and you can put it all behind. Enjoy the day, the season and those around you. Life is so fragile; make the most of it!

I know there's always someone worse off. So I'm going to the V.A. Hospital on Christmas day and try to spread a little Christmas encouragement and cheer.


And to all...

Remember the real intended reason for Christmas. A Child was born ...A Savior was born ... the most significant, yet ignored Gift to His own creation of mankind the world has ever known ...or will ever know!

May God Bless All Of You - Have A Merry Christmas and A Very Happy New Year! ...And to Those in The Military, Away From Their Family's in Uncertain Territory.

Gary



 Please pass this page on to anyone you think could use it!

Remember I'm here all year long and this Christmas message will appear as a link at the bottom of MY STORY.

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"MELANOMA : “NO BIG DEAL ” IT'S JUST SKIN CANCER!

Hi! My name is Nick and I’m 56 yrs. old and this is part of my story. Let me tell you, I was like a lot of people out there and I had no idea that skin cancer was anything bad. I had Basal cell back in 2007, but that was no big deal and it was removed and that was the end of that. No one told me that it was a type of skin cancer (I looked it up on my computer). But still no big deal, it would not kill me.
But I did know the word "Melanoma"....." --by Nick

Read more of Nick's Story

Scared to Death!!! - by Shelly

Our Cancer Stories are so similar, mine and Gary's! - by Valerie  



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Bottom Line
The Weather Channel has done well posting this information and photos to help you spot skin cancer, including melanoma.
It can be hard to spot, even for a professional.
The bottom line is to get an expert's opinion about any suspicious mole or lesion on your skin. If necessary, get a second opinion  and/or request a biopsy. it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Don’t put your very life at risk!