Meet Randy Chalfant- husband of nearly four decades, father of two, and cancer survivor. Randy is a metastatic colorectal cancer survivor and is passionate about sharing his insight into what it means spiritually, emotionally and practically to be diagnosed with cancer.
I don’t think anybody grows up thinking they will have cancer. Did you? Nobody has cancer until the day things aren’t right, you go to a doctor to find out why, and you wind up getting the news.
When I was told I have cancer I physically felt my whole body instantly tighten from stress and fear. The news is frightening, the future and the possibility of a future are suddenly uncertain.
We have all heard stories of horrible experiences people endure through cancer treatments, including radiation, chemo, and surgeries. Who in their right mind would want that? Nobody I know of, and certainly not me.
Sometimes life doesn’t offer a good choice. Even though you may not like the choices available, there are always choices. For me the choice was do nothing and die, or do the program and hope to live.
So why do that? I feel obligated to live, to provide for my family that depends on me, to be a husband, to be a dad, to take care of my disabled daughter, to take care of my dogs, to live up to the commitments I have made to a circle of family, friends, and colleagues.
I didn’t feel like I had an option, I am committed to many responsibilities, and therefore there was only one choice, live, get through treatments, and beat cancer.
Cancer treatment is difficult; it makes you sick, and tired, more than you have probably ever known. Yet, living through cancer treatment doesn’t have to be about how sick and tired you are. Oh – it will limit you, and it also limits and impacts people around you. But it doesn’t have to define who you are, or will be.
It is simply a large challenge. Maybe it is like trying to climb Mt. Everest. Have you done that? Do you have any idea how difficult it is? How dangerous it is? How much suffering you would have to endure? So why do people do that? Certainly not for the danger, pain and suffering. They do it to feel the exhilaration of the victory over a difficult challenge that few on this planet can claim.
Well friends, the battle with cancer can be very similar. The defining characteristic of winning the battle is about keeping your eye on the prize, not the pain and suffering, or the danger.
The “prize” is patiently waiting for the doctors’ visit when you learn you are in remission and have won the most difficult, scary, and challenging objective in your life.
Cancer survivors have climbed the mountain, and have planted a flag at the top that says – “I won.” They have survived physical and emotional challenges that are as difficult, craggy, and dangerous as any human endeavor has ever been. Not that there aren’t other human illness or challenges that aren’t equal or greater, because there are. But Cancer is a big one, and nobody knows how big until you and people around you are there.
It is a far better and rewarding path to get through cancer by aligning yourself with the win.
I have won for now. It could come back, but to me it is the same as getting off the mountain. I have planted the flag, now I have to survive getting back down. The journey is not over until I am safely back to base camp and healthy. It is still dangerous; there can be slips and storms I don’t know about yet. But just like the commitment to summit, I am now committed to getting home safely. I will be here to live up to commitments to family, friends, and colleagues.
You may not appreciate the tremendous influence you may have on the will of another to survive. But believe me, it is a major positive force. I have been incredibly touched by the love, care and support that I have been flooded with. There is no possible way to repay that debt, so I will simply say thank you. You made a difference.
Someday I will meet our maker, but not today. Today I will take action to continue to improve, get stronger, stay vigilant, and continue the journey.
So here’s to victory and life, and the people we love. May all of you win your battles, overcome challenges, plant your flags, and return home safely.
If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with cancer and need support, please contact the LIVESTRONG Foundation for support, help with insurance issues, fertility preservation and more. 1-855-220-7777 and online www.livestrong.org/wecanhelp.