Life After Cancer

Life After Cancer

06.01.12 | By

National Cancer Survivors Day is Sunday, June 3. It is an annual celebration of life to show the world that there is life after a cancer diagnosis. And I, Jeff Trewhitt, am a proud cancer survivor. Here's a look at my life after cancer.

I've been in remission from hairy cell leukemia so long - almost 12 years - that the dark, scary period right after I was diagnosed with the disease that almost killed me has become a hazy memory.

Mainly what I recall about my nine days in the hospital in an isolated sterile room were the acts of simple kindness and compassion extended to me by the fine physician and nursing staff at Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring, Maryland. How, for example, could I forget the nurse who one morning at 3 a.m. loosened the line that was carrying blood to my body so I could sleep. She stayed with me, talking softly, for the time it took to calm me down so I could get some badly needed rest.

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Since then, my health has returned and my life has been fulfilling in so many different ways, ranging from my daughter's promotion to lieutenant commander in the Public Health Service and birth of two precocious, funny grandchildren to the slow, but steady flourishing of my son into a gainfully employed, proud practitioner of green energy.

A staunch environmentalist from an early age, Andy has become - if I do say so myself - a rising star in a growing regional company that installs geothermal energy in commercial buildings, college dormitories and homes.

Since my bout with cancer, I've become less self-centered. It's not all about me anymore. I play better in the sandbox and care more about the people around me and how they are doing. I tear up when I think about how fiercely proud I am of my family and the noble, constructive things they have done in their lives.

Whereas once I bored people to death talking about some witty or wise thing I had done, written or said, now I am more apt to bore them to tears talking about the many things I have done and seen with my grandchildren, son-in-law, daughter, son and wife.

They are my people and I look forward to our many outings together and the opportunity to play a guiding role in the lives of Sophia and Henry, my grandchildren. I am constantly reminded of all that I would have missed had I died of cancer in the fall of 1999.

At this point, my only hope - and I sometimes worry about it - is that I am worthy of such good fortune.

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