Thursday, December 24, 2009

Celebrating in the Locker Room!

I have been called Coach for 28 years now. (Sidebar----as my friend Mark asked me years ago, "Why are you called by your chosen profession?".............we don't say, "Salesman Bob, Mechanic Bill, Technician Mark, Store clerk Sara,..........oh well, I digress!) One of the toughest things in my profession is losing and winning. I know, you would think that the winning would be easy. But remember that so many times, when I win a game, I have a friend who is the coach of the other team and he just lost.

Years ago I began the practice of teaching my players that we cry or celebrate in the locker room. It is the place where emotions can be let out without offending or being judged by others. It is hard to celebrate a win when you know that a colleague just lost a game that might endanger his job. The other team has worked hard. The opposing coach has prepared them. But I also learned that you MUST celebrate the wins or the game is not worth playing!

Yesterday Chris and I received the best Christmas gift ever..........completely clear scans and tests. We both cried tears of joy as our oncologist said, "I truly think we can call this a solitary plasmacytoma. Your disease is still myeloma but I do not think it is multiple." What a year and words I thought I would never hear. The normally stoic Dr. Wyzynski hugged both of us in a huge bear hug. He said, "Please go tell your children Merry Christmas and you will live a long life."

I have spent many hours of the last year in the cancer center. Chris and I have precious friends all over this huge complex. Who do we tell first? My nurses in the infusion center. The radiologists who helped kill the tumor. My radiation doctor, who was so compassionate with me during the pain. Paul, the vampire, who takes my blood, and has become a precious friend. Sara, Shawn, Reba, Dr. Lei, Steve......................... but.....................we rounded the corner and saw our other friends, my fellow patients and sufferers.

The couple in infusion who are both going through chemotherapy together, the man and his wife who we have been praying for and they received the news she has Stage 4 cancer, the sweet lady in the wheelchair who is my fellow reader,..........................the eyes of pain that smiled as they saw us and said "Merry Christmas!"

Coming from a long line of "starched underpants, southern Baptist ministers", I am still learning the art of celebrating. Praise God for answered prayers. WOOOOOO HOOOOO! I am in my locker room and I am ecstatic, but my heart still breaks for my cancer brothers and sisters. My back still feels the pain of radiation, my stomach easily remembers the rejection of any nourishment because of the poison of chemo, the sleepless nights, listening to your wife and best friend cry herself to sleep, and the pity in the eyes of friends.

I celebrate, but my prayers are with you! May this be the best Christmas ever!

A Year of Change

This has been a year of change. In his book "Developing the Leader Within You", John Maxwell writes, "Change means traveling in uncharted waters, and this causes our insecurities to rise." Chris and I have definitely seen uncharted waters in the year 2009. Here are a few of the changes:
  • Our youngest daughter, Callie, had major reconstructive knee surgery in January
  • I not only missed my first basketball game in 28 years, I missed 16 of them
  • I finished 5 weeks of radiation in January
  • Our second grandson, Rance was born in March
  • My wife, Chris, graduated with her masters degree in May
  • I turned 50 years old in May and I was thrilled to see it!
  • Our superintendent retired and we lost our principal & friend to that position
  • Our oldest daughter, Kati, graduated from high school in June (valedictorian!)
  • Our youngest son, Derick, moved to Maryland in June
  • I finished 3 months of chemotherapy in June
  • In July, we were able to hold Rance for the first time
  • We lost our dog Gracie, an Akita, after losing her sister Maxine, last year
  • Our children, Ryan and Amanda, became church planters as they began a church in MD
  • I began my masters' degree and principal certification (BACK TO SCHOOL!)
  • In August, Kati moved to Denton to attend North Texas University
  • Callie became an only child
  • I had my second round of scans and tests, with no signs of new tumor
What a year! It has been a year of tough times, challenges, and extreme blessing. The uncharted waters have been scary but the journey is great!