Happy Monday! Many of you know I just got back from a trip visiting family in Indianapolis, but must don’t know the reason for the trip. My brother (age 50) has been battling stage 4 throat cancer for nearly eighteen months.
He initially went through chemo, then radiation until the growth had shrunk enough for the doctors to operate. Last spring, he underwent a 19-hour plus surgery to remove the cancer in his throat. His neck was essentially split open, he lost half his tongue and his esophagus has been destroyed from radiation. He has a trach right now and a feeding tube—he’ll never be able to eat or drink food again. He goes for a follow-up on Friday, but doctors believe they got the cancer in his throat. However, there’s only a 20% chance it won’t come back somewhere in the next year. If it does, doctors have done all they can. His body can’t take any more chemo or radiation.
I hadn’t seen him in several years. I knew he’d lost nearly 100 pounds, but he was so thin and frail it was shocking. The left side of his face is hardened to the point it doesn’t move, and he’s got to talk through his teeth.
And yet, he’s in good spirits. He knows his chances aren’t good, but he talks of going back to work and plans for the future. He’s a chef, so his inability to eat again is especially awful. I know if it were me, I’d be wallowing in self-pity and shutting myself in the house to die.
But Jeff continues to push through. Throughout this miserable year and a half, he’s remained positive. As I sat with him on Friday, I thought about all the things in my life I’ve allowed to upset me, the little things I’ve let ruin my day, the fights I’ve gotten into with my hubby over dumb crap. How stupid they all were. I say it a lot, but this time I really mean it: life’s too short to sweat the small stuff.
Sometimes things happen between people and family that can’t be repaired, and sometimes it’s best to leave that part of our life behind. But time is precious, and we need to cherish every moment we have with family and friends. Embrace life because before you know it, your time with that person could be up and you’ll have nothing but wasted years to remember.
I hope you all have a wonderful week and the next time you find yourself upset and wanting to give up on yourself or someone else, remember this story. Life’s too short to waste time being angry or hiding behind our fears. Embrace them and move forward.
Thanks to all of you for your support and friendship. Have a great day!
Daniel Swensen (@surlymuse)
What a heartbreaking story – and yet your brother’s courage is very inspiring. I don’t know that I’d be able to rise to the challenge like he has. And I think you’re absolutely right about the kind of perspective events like this can give us. Thanks for sharing this with your readers.
Thank you. Yes, he’s inspiring. I don’t think I would be able to, either. You’re very welcome – thanks for the kind words!
You have a great attitude about this. My thoughts and prayers are with you, Stacy.
Thanks so much. I’m trying to be positive as I’ve already buried one brother. Hoping for a miracle:)
jean Henry Mead
Sending healing prayers Jeff’s way. Having lost five family members to cancer, including one of my daughters, I can certainly sympathize. Prayers and my writing helped me to work through the grief, although it never completely leaves.
Thank you so much, Jean. Wow, five family members? That’s just awful. I’m happy you’ve been able to work through. God bless.
Anne K. Alberta
“Life’s too short to waste time being angry or hiding behind our fears. Embrace them and move forward.” Words of wisdom, felt from the heart. Thank you, and wishing you and yours as much time as God allows.
Thank you so much, I really appreciate the kind words.
Saying a prayer for your brother’s healing and your comfort. What a tough situation! I love that you can take away a great lesson from your experience, Stacy. We should be thankful for all that we have and pursue happiness. (Too often, it’s easy to pursue bitterness instead.) Life ain’t easy, but I am inspired by the strength of the human spirit.
Thank you, Julie. It was a shock to see him but I’m glad I did. I’m happy this post resonated with you, and you’re right, we should always pursue happiness.
Stacy S. Jensen (@StacySJensen)
Thanks for sharing your brother’s story an to remind us … Your brother’s story reminded me of a local chef from my hometown region in Georgia. Thought I would share since your brother is a chef: Hans Rueffert was featured on CNN http://www.cnn.com/video/?/video/health/2011/10/10/human-factor-hans-rueffert.cnn Here’s his blog http://hansrue.blogspot.com/
Thanks so much for your comment and for sharing the story!
Tiffany A White
Oh, what a story, Stacy. Thank you so much for sharing. Your words couldn’t ring more true. Live. Laugh. Love. Dance like no one is watching; Live like there’s no tomorrow; Love until you can’t love anymore; Laugh until you cry….those are just a few of my life mottos and my favorite sayings. Life is short, why sweat the small stuff? Live everyday to the fullest. I’m inspired now and smiling. Thank you. <3
Thanks, Tiffany. I still can’t believe what he’s been through. The fact that he’s able to talk about the future in a positive tone amazes me. Your comment is beautiful, too. XO
Ditto, Tiff. It’s lovely.
Wow – Staci – my heart goes out to you and your family. What an incredible thing to go through. Your brother sounds like an ahhmazing inspiration and a hero. What a reminder to not sweat the small stuff and to give and live life 100% with the those we love and cherish most. There are no guarantees in life so there’s no point wasting time, eh?! I am sending you, your family and your brother all my prayers and comfort!! Thanks for the fabulous reminder – I shall embrace life a little bit larger in your brother’s honor!
Thanks, Natalie. He’s been incredibly tough. I don’t know how he’s gotten through it. Yes, the small stuff is the hardest to sluff off but it’s so unimportant. We could all be gone tomorrow. Thanks so much for the sweet comment and prayers.
It is heartbreaking to hear about your brother. It really does put life and good health into perspective. I know sometimes I lose patience or wish things were different, but it is always some mundane gripe that I should never have focused on in the first place. Your post makes me thankful for all the blessings I have. I am glad you were able to spend some time with your brother. I will keep him in my thoughts and pray that the cancer does not return.
Thanks so much, Annie. I’m so glad my post had a positive effect on you. I’m notorious for getting upset at stupid stuff and not being grateful for what I have, so I’m really trying to correct it. Thanks again:)
So very sorry. What sad news. But it sounds like your brother is a very special person and I think that it’s great that he’s keeping upbeat and not letting this destroy all the good things in his life. I sincerely hope that all goes well for him. Hugs to you and the fam.
Angela@ The Bookshelf Muse
Thanks, Angela. He’s definitely a special guy and stronger than a lot of people. Really appreciate the good thoughts. Hugs back:)
Stacy, please give our love to your brother and some for yourself as well. It’s terrible to watch a loved one go through this. I’m so sorry! Your advice is right on target. It’s time we all got a little perspective. Many hugs!!
Thank you so much, I really appreciate it. I feel especially sorry for my other brother and their dad (all my bros/sisters are half-siblings). They’ve been with him through day one and it’s been really hard on them. Hugs back, and thanks again!
Oh my…this has been a difficult year and a half for your family. Your brother sound like an amazing individual, Stacy. Prayers and positive thoughts go out to you both. May he fully recover and never experience any more of this illness.
Yes, it really has. And he is. I know I couldn’t handle things as well as he’s done. I would have thrown in the towel a long time ago. Thanks so much for the prayers and sweet comments:)
I think once you quit making plans for the future, you’re done. So it’s good Jeff has plans. As I said via email, you and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.
Not sweating the small stuff. I do it less as I age. But there are little things that really get under my skin. However, I always think I could let more stuff roll off. Maybe we all could?
I think you’re right. We’ve got to have plans and goals or life is useless. I’m better than I used to be about the small stuff, but I need to work on things. Thanks for the good thoughts!
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Thanks so much for this mention, Natalie. You’re very sweet:)
I’m so glad you got to see your brother. You will treasure that time in all the days to come, whether they are too short or long and lovely. I saw a few comments from people about “not knowing how he does it.” I always smile when I see that because the majority of us would be rockstars…we just haven’t been tested the way Jeff has (thank God).
You do it because you must. Period.
I’ll keep you and your family in my thoughts and prayers. Incidentally, my brother’s name is Jeff too. 🙂
Thanks so much. I’m glad I got to see him as well, although it was bittersweet. Made me wish we hadn’t missed out on so much time. You know, you’re probably right – many people rise to the occasion when things are the worst. I just can’t imagine going through what he has.
Funny about your brother having the same name. Thanks so much for the prayers and comment!
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Sonia G Medeiros
I’m so sorry about your brother. Our family is keeping yours in our prayers. We do tend to get caught up in the dreck of everyday life. We forget what’s really important. When we see somebody fighting tremendous odds with grace and courage, it’s humbling and definitely a reminder to really pay attention to our lives.
Thank you. We actually found out about a week after I wrote this post that his cancer had returned. They’ve given him months at best. I thought I had prepared myself, but it was still a big shock.
Thanks so much for your sweet words – they’re very true:)
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