Sometimes life throws you the curveball of cancer.
Jane has earned three advanced degrees and had several fulfilling careers as a librarian, rehabilitation counselor and college teacher. Presently she does freelance writing. Her articles include the subjects of hearing loss and deafness, service dogs and struggling with cancer. She has been a cancer survivor since 2010.
She has myelodysplastic syndrome, which is rare, and would love to communicate with others who have MDS.
When I was a counselor in a state vocational agency, I worked with people with disabilities including head trauma, blindness, deafness and learning disabilities. Some of my clients would approach me ashamed of their disability, and not wanting to ask for any kind of help. I would explain to them that this agency was designed to help them gain employment and pay taxes back into the system.
Other clients, especially those who experienced a disability later in life, were so confused that they wanted me to do everything for them and didn’t know where to start.
Our agency provided help such as special computer programs that voiced the text for people who were blind; hearing aids and assistive devices for people who were hard of hearing or deaf; or special job coaches to assist people with learning disabilities to acquire new job skills. We also paid for college and special training. What fun it was to be able to provide these much-needed services!
As a rehabilitation counselor, I would make it very clear that everyone would have to help themselves. I am a baseball fan and here is what I told them:
“Our agency provides you with the bat, the ball and the glove through the training and special devices. It is up to you whether you bat a home run; get to first base; or strike out. You may have to get up and try over and over again.”
Most of them would understand this analogy.
Honestly, the game of life is like a baseball game. We all have times in our lives when we hit the ball, we foul off the ball or we strike out. We are not always the perfect employee, parent, child, friend or sibling. The most competent hitter in baseball is considered good when hitting 300. This is only three out of 10 pitches – and they are the best. Think about that!
Similar to this is the battle with cancer. I look back over my treatments, my chemo and the past eight years. The chemo has consistently had to be changed, tweaked and even stopped. Sometimes the side effects are too dangerous, the chemo stops working or the cells change. Many other cancer survivors I talk to mention that drugs are constantly added and subtracted from their shunts, their IVs or oral medications.
I truly think being an oncologist has to be the hardest medical specialty that exists, because no one is the same and they have to tailor every single treatment differently. What works for one person can be a disaster for another one. It is very different from replacing a knee or handing out an antibiotic.
When I started my cancer journey, I mistakenly thought there would be a set protocol. Instead, there have been eight years of changes – sort of like hitting a home run or striking out!
But life is like that. We are pitched curve balls, straight balls, sliders and more. We get unfair bosses like some umpires, and the ball often bounces the wrong way. Sometimes our friends and family cheer us and other times they don’t get it. Hopefully they do not boo us! All we can do it equip ourselves with faith, surround ourselves with caring people, and seek the best medical care possible and always step up to the plate to try again. Yes, life (and cancer) is like a baseball game and we have to play it!