Stopped Abruptly by Unexpected News

Sometimes it takes receiving bad news to make us appreciate how good we really have it. A close friend of ours recently shared an alarming diagnosis with us – the big “C” word – cancer. He’s not the first, and unfortunately won’t be the last, of those we know who have that kind of news to share. He’s not the oldest or the youngest, either – just the most recent and the one we most frequently see.

In the blur of scheduling and testing and surgery that he and his family had to navigate, K and I stared at each other in stunned disbelief. Why bad things happen to good people, what additional steps we ought to take for our own health, how it would all turn out – all this and more had us really questioning our place in the universe.

After all, this friend is in a similar situation to our own – the same age, similar family goals, similar progress in careers, but is definitely fitter than we are, what with our excuses to avoid the gym and enjoy another dessert despite the extra pounds we’re lugging along. So K scheduled doctor’s appointments he’d been putting off, and I renewed my commitment to better exercise habits and more antioxidants.

This event, as removed as we were from it, forced us to reflect on how precious our lives are, how dear the ones with whom we share our time, and what we should do to with each fragile minute we’ve been given.

It forced me, too, in my writing, to reevaluate what my characters value and what gives urgency to their actions. A hero who doesn’t care much for the world or the people in it doesn’t have much motivation to go saving it, especially not at great personal cost. And we’re all the heroes of our own stories, right?

Happily for our friend, the surgery went smoothly and the tumor hadn’t metastasized. He will be screened regularly in the weeks, months, and years to come, but the primary threat has passed. I know others have not been so lucky, and my heart goes out to each of you that has lost someone dear.

Has there been an event in your life that forced you to seriously rethink your priorities?

3 thoughts on “Stopped Abruptly by Unexpected News”

  1. Definitely the birth of my daughter changed everything! Now I drive slower when she’s in the car, wake up at 3am to change her diaper and have a renewed appreciation for drool-free clothing.

    1. I started up with Han Mu Do in Baton Rouge, which combines Judo, Tae Kwon Do, and Hapkido into one very thorough style, and got my black belt in HMD before leaving town.

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