It’s OK

Thumbs up emoticon - It's OKWhy can’t I sleep? For the last few nights, I have rolled, tossed and turned until the wee hours of the morning.

Two years ago, I was going through very challenging treatments for tongue cancer. At one point I asked my wife Jo why she was closing the door to her office. She said, “So that you don’t see me crying.”

But that was two years ago, I survived the treatment, wrote an article about it, been continually treated, tested and been cancer free for a year. Yeah, I have another test coming up, but I’ve been OK.

When I was diagnosed with cancer, I contacted dear friend/mentor Chuck Butler, who has dealt with cancer for over 15 years. After treatment and the good follow up test results, Chuck surprised me. He issued some marching orders, “You must now call yourself a cancer survivor; you have an obligation to mentor and encourage others.”

I’ve tried hard to follow his advice, stay positive and not let myself get too high or low emotionally. Some negative effects of the treatment are permanent. Swallowing is a challenging chore, but I’m OK. I try to enjoy each day, take what comes and encourage others to do the same. Why am I so anxious about the upcoming test results?

Harvey F., my boyhood next door neighbor, recently invited me to a high school class reunion. I graduated in 1958, 63 years ago. Friend Toots, who is helping, brought me up to date on 8 of our high school friends, all with significant medical challenges. That is in addition to other friends having issues, three are currently scheduled for surgery.

Pacemakers, Parkinson’s, stents, surgery, dementia and cancer treatment are discussed regularly; just part of aging, I guess.

Annuity Guide – Click Here!Harvey organized a huge reunion in 2000. Our graduating class was 60 years old. We happily reconnected after many years. The dominant topic was how we were caring for our aging parents. 21 years later, we’re all in our 80’s. Today we’re the parents we talked about not so long ago.

Jo’s mother made it to 93. She was one of the happiest people I have ever known, with a terrific sense of humor. Yet she lamented that she struggled in her 80’s, losing so many of her long-time friends.

My last few cancer tests were excellent. I tried to put a smile on my face, yet I was struggling, a knot in my stomach. So many things in life are beyond our control.

Sometimes fate works in strange and mysterious ways. In a short time, three things hit me head on.

My wife Jo sensed I was worried and sent me this LINK with instruction to “Watch it until the very end!”

It’s a 7:32 video of the TV show, America’s Got Talent. The contestant is a thin young woman, 30 years old, from Zanesville, Ohio. She calls herself “Nightbirde”. She wrote a song titled, “It’s OK,” outlining her experiences with cancer. She has a 2% chance of survival: what an amazing young woman!

I’d encourage everyone to watch the video and share it with anyone who may be dealing with challenges. It is the natural order of things for grandparents to have significant health issues, not kids in their 30’s. The video was a wakeup call!

Here’s the lyrics:

IT’S OK

I moved to California in the summer time
I changed my name thinking that it would change my mind
I thought that all my problems they would stay behind
I was a stick of dynamite and it was just a matter of time, yeah

All day, all night, now I can’t hide
Said I knew myself, but I guess I lied

It’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay
If you’re lost, we’re all a little lost and it’s alright
It’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay
If you’re lost, we’re all a little lost and it’s alright

It’s alright, it’s alright, it’s alright, it’s alright

I wrote a hundred pages but I burned them all
(Yeah, I burned them all)
I drove through yellow lights and don’t look back at all
I don’t look back at all

Yeah, you can call me reckless, I’m a cannonball (uh, I’m a cannonball)
Don’t know why I take the tightrope and cry when I fall

All day, all night, now I can’t hide
Said I knew what I wanted but I guess I lied

It’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay
If you’re lost, we’re all a little lost and it’s alright
It’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay
If you’re lost, we’re all a little lost and it’s alright

It’s alright, it’s alright, it’s alright, it’s alright
It’s alright, it’s alright, it’s alright, it’s alright

Oh-oh-oh-oh, it’s alright
Oh-oh-oh-oh, it’s alright
Oh-oh-oh-oh, it’s alright
Oh-oh-oh-oh, it’s alright
To be lost sometimes

It’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay
If you’re lost, we’re all a little lost and it’s alright
It’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay
If you’re lost, we’re all a little lost and it’s alright

It’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay
If you’re lost, we’re all a little lost and it’s alright

Good Housekeeping wrote about her experiences. I could relate, but I felt somewhat ashamed. My struggles, compared to hers and Chuck Butler, are tame by comparison.

When To File For Social Security Special Report – Click Here!I looked at this young woman, 30 years old, a child in my eyes – what an inspiration! Sometimes we need to be reminded just how lucky we are. It’s time to turn my attitude back around; that is something I can control.

After another sleepless night, #2 & 3 hit my inbox the morning I was headed to the cancer center to get my test results. The first one came from Chuck Butler in the Daily Pfennig:

“OK… I know that at times I sound doom and gloomy, and I’m really not that kind of person… I’m an optimistic kind of guy, always looking for good… When I was going through Twitter yesterday, I came across this tweet from Jon Gordon, and thought… This is more me… check it out:

‘7 Ways to Make Today a Better Day:

1. Look for the good.

2. Appreciate the little things.

3. Be a helper.

4. Tell someone they matter.

5. Give more than you take.

6. Speak words of encouragement and hope (to yourself and others).

7. Believe the best is yet to come.'”

That’s the Chuck Butler I know. Despite his struggles he is always positive and offering encouragement…

After finishing the Pfennig, I glanced at the clock. I had time for one more email before we had to go. It was from subscriber Charles C. He publishes a cool quote every day. What prompted him to send this quote, on this day and have it appear in my inbox right after the Pfennig? Fate is strange…

“[Christopher] Hitchens kept writing and produced some of his most poignant work after receiving his cancer diagnosis. Yet he never lapsed into sentimentality or self-pity, reminding readers that he was only doing rapidly what we all are doing slowly.” — Alexander Green

I saved the message and headed off to the cancer center, hoping for good results.

A smiling young nurse ushered us into Dr. Patel’s office. He came in, smiled and quickly gave me a thumbs up. All is well, still cancer free, keep on keeping on – repeat the process in three months. I exhaled slowly and felt a tear in my eye. It’s OK!

We then discussed our passion for the Chicago Cubs and their struggles. So much for my pity party – time to get back to work…

Following Chuck’s lead, I need to mention some special people. Walking down the hall to the infusion center, I stopped and talked to David, a great guy who has held our hand and kept us educated for over two years. He is always positive, upbeat, keeps his promises and gets things done.

Two nurses in the infusion center, Diana and Yvette have pandered over me since day one. Even in my darkest days of treatment, their caring, compassion and concern perked me up. They are special people; I don’t know how they do it.

Sometimes being a RetireMentor is just sharing experiences, no matter how trivial they might seem, and hoping others may benefit from them. It’s OK, everything is going to be all right.

After her song, Nightbirde was questioned by Simon, one of the judges. Her quote hit us all like a ton of bricks:

“You can’t wait until life isn’t hard anymore before you decide to be happy.”

Great wisdom from such a young woman. Count your blessings! Yes, the best is yet to come! It’s OK…

A little help means a lot!

Six years ago, I vowed to keep our newsletter FREE! I plan to keep my promise.

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On The Lighter Side

Unfortunately, I won’t be able to attend the reunion. The medical schedule and other family matters take priority. It’s scheduled for an upcoming Saturday afternoon in the park. I hope they have terrific weather.

I would like to raise a glass and propose a toast to my classmates.

Congratulation, you made it! We have reached a wonderful stage of life. Think of what is no longer important:

  • No one cares what kind of car we drive – the important part is we can still drive.
  • We are not in competition with our peers anymore – we share in their joy and suffer in their sorrows.
  • Some may have more stuff than others, but it doesn’t matter. Rich or poor is not as important as health and time.
  • Band competition, fumbles, strikeouts, missed free throws and grade point average have no bearing. Our parents and the school system did their job; we learned how to survive on this planet – and we sure did.
  • Statistically we have all outlived our life expectations, those who remain are truly the upper third of the class, at least according to the insurance actuaries. The classmates we have lost along the way would be envious and trade places with us in a minute.
  • We can no longer ignore the fact we are aging. Our age is now a matter of pride. Wear it well, we earned it.
  • Through it all, we have learned what is really important, and can live, love and laugh. It’s more than OK.
  • May your sides hurt after the reunion from laughing so hard and hugging one another.

The Statler Brothers ask, “Do you remember these?” Heck yes, we do!

Ginny L. called me about the reunion. We will be close to 90 for our next one. Book it, we plan on being there.

Senior Couple Enjoying Beach HolidayQuote of the Week…

“Don’t live in the past – you’ve already been there.
And don’t live in the future, either. Tomorrow will be here soon enough.

Live in this moment now – it is sacred and unrepeatable.
This moment alone holds valuable gifts that should not be missed.”
— Steve Goodier

And finally…

I want to add my thoughts to a cute quote:

An empty highschool hallway with red lockers on the right side

“True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school class is running the country.” — Kurt Vonnegut

“When you are 80, having your high school class still involved in running the country is real terror.” — Dennis Miller

Until next time…

Dennis Miller

“Economic independence is the foundation of the only sort of freedom worth a damn.” – H. L. Mencken

 

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2 comments

  • Leonard R Hoover

    Mister Miller,Is there an update on this lovely lady and her progress? I lost my wife in Nov. 2015 to cancer and this article really touched me deeply. I’m so glad that your own status is hopefully going well. Could you share updates about yourself and her if she is still surviving. Thank you.

    Leonard Hoover

    • Dennis Miller

      Hi Leonard,

      I just got a note from a subscriber that she had to drop out of the competition do to her health issues. I guess she did it with dignity and class and somehow managed to make it a positive message.

      She got to me too…

      Best regards,
      Dennis

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