Great news! A recent CAT scan tells me I will be leaving the hospital to go to a rehabilitation facility today – CANCER FREE. I consider myself one of the luckiest individuals in the medical world. There are so many people I need to thank and some of you who know me well, I hope will understand when I say, God is on the top of that list! We faced crisis after crisis, we had setbacks with enough disappointments to last most people a life time, but we said we would fight and as of this moment – we are winning. Does this mean that the fight is over? Not by a long shot. I am one of the five percent of survivors to make it this far and I am not so naive to think that things could not change ugly quickly, but I know I have a fighting chance and I am thankful to be in a rare and unique group.
If you will, please bear with me through a few of these meanderings. I have waited until I knew of the tentative outcome of the surgery before I spoke. I keep thinking of how many times I should have paid more attention to Senator Dan Webster! I can guarantee you it was because there was always an outstretched hand. I keep recalling the peace that I felt when I finally recognized that the only person in control is God.
To the people that I’ve “run with” for the last 20 plus years, this does not mean that I am coming back with a starched collar or judgmental preconceptions. I would rather be seen as an Ander Crenshaw or a Bobby Bowden. I still have many of my same views in regard to individual decision making, health privacy issues, etc., but I can assure you that the person that went in to this hospital two weeks ago today is a different person coming out. Who knows? Maybe my new “calling” will be as a survivor to give hope and to be an example of the fact that you may not be able to totally win, but you can certainly go toe to toe. My recovery period for this surgery could be as much as a year and it will be a year of some significant life style changes for me – such as no alcohol, limited diet and a reemphasis on healthy living. (I can just visualize some of you reading this and thinking – boy – is Jim ever going to be boring.)
I want to sincerely thank so many people because I certainly could not have gotten to where I am right now without the combination of all the help and many good wishes, prayers, calls, cards and notes. Linda has stayed by my side, held my hand, yelled at me when I needed it and cuddled me when I needed more than anything to be reassured. Then there is a cast of so many dear friends that I want to thank for their love and support – you all know who you are, and I thank you for all that you have done. I also want to thank my entire office staff and all the fine staff at Mayo Clinic. And last but not least, I want to thank my “home team,” so named because they were all here at 4:00 a.m. the morning of my surgery and many never left until Friday or Saturday – I am blessed to have you all in my life.
I want to tell anybody who is reading this, I highly recommend Mayo Clinic for any diagnostic or surgical needs. Sometimes I look at what is going on around me and I wonder just who thought of some of the methodologies for treatment that are now common place and taken so much for granted. If you look however, you will find that Mayo, especially in its research components, has helped lead the way.
Again, many thanks to God, my family and to all my friends for pulling me through this far.
I hope to see you all soon.