Today I’m continuing my series called the C Word: A series based on providing tips for people and other photographers who might be dealing with people/families with cancer. Disclaimer: These are my thoughts and opinions. My goal is to help people understand more about those with cancer – their journey and their thoughts. I’m not an expert by any means – my father was diagnosed with cancer only 3 years ago – but I feel as though this may be helpful to some. Take or leave it.
As I was praying about this series, I decided I needed to start getting input from different types of people - people other than my family. Today I’m going to introduce you to a man who has had cancer 3 different times. I met him a few months ago when he started attending our church. Him and his wife are the sweetest people you will ever meet.
This is Dan. Dan is an ex-SWAT team, ex-Marine. He teaches knife throwing lessons. He’s been shot, stabbed, and blown up. He’s had two different types of cancer three different times. He’s had both eyeballs removed and put back in. He’s had 8 knee, 5 elbow, 2 wrist, 1 shoulder and 4 ankle surgeries. His first round with cancer came 9 years ago, the second round came 4 years ago, the third round came 2 years ago... and they’re praying it doesn’t come back ever again. He’s a survivor.
As I like to say... Dan is legit. He knows what he’s talking about. I had the opportunity to sit down with him on Sunday, share a little bit about the blog series I’m doing, and ask him for his thoughts. I took the liberty of breaking down and organizing what he said into 3 different tips. They aren’t necessarily directed at someone with cancer, nor are they completely directed at someone without. Rather, view it as a man with experience sharing his story.
Dan’s Tip #1: Compassion, Not Pity
If you’ve met him, you’d understand. Dan doesn’t like pity, and it was the first thing he mentioned. He has no problem with compassion, but in his mind, he wants nothing to do with pity, coddling or whining. Because of his background, Dan’s seen a lot of really hard things; he’s had to deal with a lot of really difficult situations. In many ways, cancer is no different. Dan set out to kick it’s butt, to take care of business, to get ‘er done. And he did. He beat it. Even after it came back, Dan endured the radiation, the chemo, the sickness and the endless doctor visits. But he still beat it. He said, “I don’t want pity. I don’t want to be waited on hand and foot. Treat me like a human being.”
Dan’s Tip #2: There’s More Than Meets the Eye
This goes back to my own blog post: Admit You Don’t Understand. Dan shared story after story with me of people he knows that have gone through cancer. He shared with me, “They’ve been through more than you think. Don’t ever assume you understand exactly where they’re at.” Despite his own personal experiences and his Go-get-’em attitude, Dan was extremely sensitive when I mentioned my own father. I’m sure he can understand - in fact, his father died many years ago from cancer. But he doesn’t ever flaunt it. He wisely said, “Don’t ever tell someone you understand - just tell them you can relate.” And boy, he can relate.
Dan’s Tip #3: Nothing Can Prepare You
Dan shared that his battles with cancer have taught him a whole lot about being patient and waiting. Waiting on the Lord for strength. When I asked him point blank if his military background or his father's battle with cancer might have prepared him for his own battle, he looked me straight in the eye and said, “Absolutely not. Cancer isn't something that can be shot or handcuffed - you really have no control. Nothing can ever prepare you for that.”
Dan’s courage brings me to tears, and I find hope in his faithful patience. Praying you will too.