Our father passed away last week, but since one of his great joys in life was writing, we wanted to leave you with two pieces he wrote in recent years that we feel are appropriate at this time. First – a website he built called Prof Plaut’s English-Speaking Israeli’s Guide to “Getting your Affairs in Order”. The title is pretty self explanatory.
The second is a list of tips we found after his passing. He posted it in a closed forum for cancer patients in 2012 after he was diagnosed. We feel it accurately captures his spirit and is how he would like to be remembered.
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I am a Stage 4 RCC (clear cell) guy, age 61. I am also working at several jobs, and I am the only person in my whole place of work who can do 40 pushups; and I have mets in my lungs! I also agree that the emotional side is the toughest part of coping.
Here are some thoughts.
The first few weeks after discovering the problem are the toughest. Trust me, it then gets easier. The scariest part is the word “cancer.” Then after a few weeks, you realize it is just a word. And you realize that there is life after contracting cancer.
As soon as you can, return to work or some other form of occupation and fill your time. Staring at the walls makes the disease a hundred times worse. Staying busy also takes your attention away from any physical discomforts you have.
Exercise, mildly. Keep your muscle tone good. Fitness not only improves your mood but may make your body better capable of coping.
I find it comforting to have my “affairs,” including “financial affairs,” in order. Then I have one less set of issues to worry about and can concentrate on other things. Do it NOT because you expect to drop dead any time soon, but to feel more confident that this set of issues is under control and your dependents are cared for. Then get on with better things!
Cancer sucks, but there are so many other worse things in the world. I take comfort in remembering that I prefer cancer a hundred times over anything bad happening to my children. Maybe it is just me, but I find that remembering how many worse things there can be in life is strangely comforting. Consider helping out someone in worse condition or worse circumstances than yourself! Trust me, there is no shortage.
Laugh. Joke. Especially about cancer. Laughter releases good hormones and helps you keep perspective. Watch funny movies.
Spill your guts, if not to friends or family then to your internet pen pals.
If you are so of a mind, pray. Converse with the Big Fella upstairs. It has been proven scientifically that it does not hurt.
Do things you get pleasure from doing, including all those things you never found time to do. Take banjo lessons, read all the plays of Shakespeare, learn line dancing, rewatch your favorite TV show from the 60s, take up pottery. How about that trip to Paris you always planned? Spend a few days and contemplate seriously what gives you pleasure, what you like doing, and then do those things. If you sit around depressed and moping, you are letting the disease defeat you and you are losing part of the life you have been granted. Life for everyone is over all too soon so why waste the time one has on moping?
Remember that the science and technology are improving so rapidly that every week there are new developments and treatments and technology. You just need one of these to be right for you!
Start to write out your memories and memoirs. Write down anecdotes from your life, especially funny ones.
Take naps during the day.
I once saw an interview with “Mister T,” you know the giant boxer actor who played the character “BA” on the A Team show. He was describing his own battle with cancer (I think lymphoma). Watching that had an incredible effect on me. I sat there and said, Hey, if this disease can even afflict Mister T, and he is battling it, then who the hell am I to give up??!!
Consider all the people who died during their teens, twenties and thirties and then consider the fact that you have been granted a long valuable life that is not over yet, one far exceeding what so many others were allowed by providence to enjoy. Instead of feeling sorry for yourself, feel sorry for them and celebrate the fact that you have outlasted them. (I am not suggesting Schadenfreude, but genuine gratitude.) Make a list of world famous people who did not last as long as you already have!
Hope some of that helps!