Once my favourite time during the entire year is Christmas. The Excitement, Loves warmth during the Winter’s cold and a certain renewal of Hope is what makes it so special for me. For when I was little, as all children do I thought that I knew everything but the last thing you really want is to know as a child is too much. What you really want is for the grown-ups in your life, to make the world a safe place where dreams can come true and promises are never broken. And when you're little, it doesn't seem like a lot to ask. So Christmas for me always has and for all time, fulfilled all of these needs.
Fast forward in time to when my children were once small it was I, because of “Christmas Excitement” who never slept through the night. My children were the ones who all seemed to sleep till late Christmas morn and too my frustration an only at that time, did they finally wake up! While silly me, impatiently stayed in my bed waiting for them to come and awaken me.
Going even further forward in time, to October of 2010 it was the start of my Worst and Best Christmas ever! That was when I had my second Cancer operation to remove Stage 4 Soft Tissue Sarcoma Cancer, which at that time and so far (knock on wood), was only in my left arm.
My surgeon, plus 2 in training surgeons and my good wife, along with myself were all gathered in an examination room to talk about my 2nd operation results.
The surgeon then informed us all that the Pathology Lab said that I had Stage 4 Soft Tissue Sarcoma Cancer and regretfully also, he was unable to remove it all. So another operation was to happen to me and this would now be done by a Soft Tissue Sarcoma Cancer Specialist.
It was then that my wife asked what my prognosis at that time would be and the Surgeon then said; “That usually, the survival rates for this type of Cancer is but 1 year and 5 years or more, if our program is successful”.
The room went immediately silent as a tomb, except for the gentle weeping from my wife.
All the Surgeons had their heads hung low and though in shock myself I felt compelled to do my best as a “Volunteer for The Missing Children” response; “That There Is Always Hope!”
By cracking jokes and trying to cheer up as best I could, all these really down people…
The next Surgeon, who is the Soft Tissue Sarcoma Cancer Specialist Surgeon, only confirmed the previous surgeon’s diagnosis, adding to it also that at the least, the worst possibility is that I may lose my left arm, if the Cancer was down to the bone.
My next operation (number #3), would be on December 23rd 2010 as there was a cancellation for that time slot and as I have an aggressive form of Cancer, waiting around was not an option.
Well I ranted of course, told many people; you included and it was then that I was given the compliment that I was handling this all so well? In actuality though for those who really know me, you know that I am only calm while helping others but with myself, never…
My thoughts at the time were; “Only one year hmmm??”, that would place my demise on this earth and arrival before GOD sometime around October, November, or December 2011. So I Prayed to GOD; “do not let this happen on Halloween please”, as I might actually be under one of those fake tombstones next year in reality. Halloween now seems not so cute anymore…
Remembrance Day, GOD please not then, as this date was and is reserved for “HEROES” and that is definitely not me!
Or Christmas, LORD please not then as I would ruin that day for many, for many years to come due to my passing.
Then one day my handling of the prognosis so well, well that all but disappeared as I walked to the mail box to do the simple task of retrieving our mail. I do not know why but I just started to cry and cry, to the point where I just could not take one more step and I almost collapsed to my knees, outside for all to see…
So then Christmas Day 2010 came and operation number #3 was over. They decided to send me home too early as they thought they were being kind but really, I should have just stayed in the hospital.
For I was in such Pain, followed by even more PAIN, yet I was also tickled pink and so relieved that I still had my left arm but I was sooo drugged up. I remember my son’s head bobbing in and out of my line of vision, the bright sun light of that Winters day burning into the back of my eyes as I was helped into my home. A Christmas dinner plate of food, that at someone kindly put before me but I wondered why? Also, I have a memory of some problem to do with my puppy dogs and the back door but really, I remember not. What I really do remember for sure is my joy that I still had my left arm (albeit a shark bite look) and also, that I had made it through this operation to this day, Christmas Day!
Well as you all know, since then I have had another Cancer operation (#4), and also another year has gone by.
The saddest thing is I have out lived my Wife Joyce and our puppy dog Lucy.
GOD that year has given me this Special Christmas Gift, which was many years of life and maybe many more, sharing Christmases with all of you!
So now I would like to send you all, my Love and with all that heaven will allow from this CANCER SURVIVOR, may you have “A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS!”
Sir Richard aka Richard Abbenbroek