Hoping for Another New Year
RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
Commentator Leroy Sievers is having a complicated holiday season. He's been undergoing chemotherapy for a year now, and every month he checks in with us. This month the news has not been good. His tumors have stopped shrinking and a new one has appeared. So as December draws to a close, he has a lot to think about.
Mr. LEROY SIEVERS: Another Christmas has come and gone. Carols have disappeared from the radio, replaced by screaming ads for after-Christmas sales. Piles of boxes and wrapping paper are in the trash. Lots of toys are already broken. Leftover turkey still sounds good, though. Better than it will in a week or so.
We're already turning our attention to New Year's - where to go, what to wear. It all moves so fast. It's hard to find time to stop and reflect on the past year and the coming one. The year ahead seems blurry to me, as I'm sure it does for most people with cancer. There's one huge unanswered question at the top of the list: Will I be here next Christmas?
There's really no way to know. I got rear-ended the other day. I had stopped for traffic and a man crashed into my car. He was in a rush to pick up his wife at the mall. Even a minor accident can shake you up. It reminded me that random things happen all the time. Here I am worrying about cancer when I should be watching the car behind me.
So what are my hopes for the New Year? It seems trite to say, I hope to survive. That's pretty obvious. I guess my real hope is whether I have a whole year or less, that I use the time wisely, that I read good books, that I laugh at my friends, that I listen to good music. Even on bad days I hope to find something that makes living that day worthwhile.
If my cancer takes a turn for the worse, I hope I meet that challenge with courage and dignity. I hope I can comfort my loved ones and help them through this ordeal. I hope I can help them come to grips with a process that I'm already at peace with. I hope I find the time to say the things that need to be said - that I let the people in my life know how important they are to me, that I find the words we so often leave unspoken.
I hope that even when things look dark I remember there are many others out there facing much greater challenges. I hope I'll always remember that, for better or worse, this is the burden I've been given to carry. And so I will carry it as long as I have the strength.
In the end, even as a cancer patient, maybe my hopes for the coming year aren't all that different from anyone else's. Above all, I hope I remember that an easy life is not always the same as a good life, that the challenges - the defeats as well as the victories - are what make things interesting and that at the end of the day I want to be able to say I lived the adventure.
And oh yeah, I hope I can lose some weight this year too.
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MONTAGNE: Leroy Sievers blogs and podcasts about his experiences with cancer on our website. To follow his story and share your own, go to npr.org/mycancer.
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