Every Day is a Gift
by Jan Register, Administrative Assistant for the Truitt Center.
On Valentine’s Day ten years ago I was preparing for surgery the following morning to remove a tumor growing on my abdomen. My oncologist believed it to be to be a malignant GIST tumor that had metastasized to my liver. My likely prognosis was two years at best.
Of course this news was terrifying but I made an intentional decision to remain positive - to only give further thought to my future once I knew for sure what exactly it was my body was dealing with. The friends and family who surrounded me and the prayer that covered me were like a buffer between me and my wandering thoughts. As strange as it seems, this cancer scare was a positive, life-changing turning point for me.
When faced with your mortality, you are forced to think about what is most important in your life. I knew if I made it through this illness, I could do anything. It inspired me to explore a deeper purpose for my life and to reflect and introspect in ways I never had before.
As it turns out, the thing that never happens happened to me - I received good news about the tumor that was removed from my abdomen. It was a benign cyst that had most likely been in my body since birth and for some reason it started to grow late in life, pressing against my abdomen and causing me to lose 20 pounds in two months - my warning that something was wrong. Had I not had this warning and also if a determined relative in the medical profession had not been relentless in discovering the tumor, it would have continued to grow and the former prognosis would likely have come to pass.
I have lost my Dad Bill, Mother-in-law Mary, Aunt Pat, precious next door neighbor Laurie Scott Bass, who would lie in the driveway with me and gaze at the stars, dear childhood friends Susan and Brucie, spiritual mentor Johnny, and three moms of my children’s friends - Elizabeth, Barb, and Pam, to cancer. My amazing goddaughter Ragan beat Hodgkins Lymphoma twice and my brave cousin Linda, wonderful neighbor Carren, and sweet church mom Betty are breast cancer survivors. There are so many more. All of you have been affected in some way by this terrible disease I know many of you who have had to face personal battles or are currently facing battles with cancer and other evils and my prayers are with you. I can’t imagine, especially this year, finding the strength and fortitude to fight the fight.
My personal experience led me to take better care of my mind, body, and soul, to almost completely eliminate stress in my life, to reach outside of my comfort zone and apply for a position at Elon, and to never waste one moment of one day. I was not supposed to be here the past 8 years. It is a healing way to live with the intimate knowledge that every day is a gift.