Yesterday I had the opportunity to speak publicly (to about 200 people) about my tumor experience for the first time. I was nervous about how it would go, what to say, and how the audience would react. It was a very short address, only about 10 minutes total, but in that time, I was able to tell a brief version of the last year of my life, followed by the challenge for each member of the audience to be grateful for the fact that they are all on the "giving" end of life right now.
For most of my life, I have been well enough to be on the giving end, I was in a position to be able to help others, rather than being in need of help myself. Of course, all of that changed with the tumor. For the last 6 months, I have been alsmost totally reliant on others to take care of my life, including taking care of my children, fixing meals, cleaning my house, etc. In the hospital, I was in the hands of doctors, nurses, CNAs and others who cared for me, performed procedures on me and even bathed me. It is very different to be on the receiving end of life. I ended my "speech" with this little challenge, to be grateful for where they are and to take the opportunity to really give and help others, because none of us know when life will change in an instant.
As I nervously finished, the room erupted in applause, and within moments, the entire group was on their feet in a standing ovation. It was truly one of the most humbling experiences of my life. I tearfully thanked the audience and took my seat.
As people came up to me afterwards, to share their stories, thank and congratulate me, or even just give me a hug, I struggled to come to terms with what they were saying. "You are my hero" and "you are so amazing"...this just seems strange to hear. I am no different than any other person with challenges, but mine are certainly more public and pronounced right now. What I realized is something that my Uncle Joel Orgill told me before I went into the hospital. He told me, as we have all heard before, that attitude is everything and a positive attitude would help me get better and change others lives. This is what people are feeling, is the positive outcomes I experienced, the miracles I had, as a result of attitude, and lots of prayers and fasting.
I continue to be grateful for my experiences, and can honestly say I would not take this challenge away, even if it meant I could hear, see, smile, drive, eat and talk normally again, and never have another headache in my life. Life is full of challenges, and it is through these challenges that we grow stronger and come to know God and His son, Jesus Christ. Sounds like I am the lucky one...