This weekend I got a cold and was nervous that without it clearing up I wouldn't be able to receive my chemo this week. So, on Saturday morning I began calling MDA hoping to get a Z Pack and to see if an antibiotic would interfere with the chemo medication. After 4 phone calls and a 24 hour period I finally received a call back asking me to call my regular physician. I then spent the rest of the day trying to get in touch with my family doctor and was told they wouldn't contact the doctor or discuss medication over the phone. Now I'm 2 days away from being evaluated by my oncologist and I'm afraid she won't administer the chemo if I'm sick. I was hoping to begin an antibiotic early in the weekend so she'd never hear me sounding hoarse. I plan on contacting my family doctor this morning to see if there is anything they can do. Also, Friday my mother took a turn for the worse. She hasn't eaten or drank anything in 4 days. Hospice has now determined she needs 24 hour nurse care and have moved in with the family. Please pray that she is not in pain and peacefully joins my father in heaven.
With that being said, I'd like to tell you about how blessed I am to have so many different loving families in my life. First, I'd like to tell you about my martial arts family. I've been doing Aikido for 30 years and spend 4 hours a week working out with these people. When you are hitting each other, putting people to sleep and throwing one another on the ground you get pretty close quick. They have been supporting me through this process and I'm thankful for them.
I also have a band family. I've been playing with the guys in this band for 3 years and have been playing with one of the guys since I was 17. When you are playing music it's the only time you feel no pain and your thoughts are focused on the music and not reality. When you and a group commonly love music there is nothing like producing a song together that brings us so much joy. Experiencing that joy together creates a family because not many people understand the impact music has on our life. I really miss playing my drums right now while sick. Today my son in law is going to help me put them together so I can just look at them. I look forward to playing them soon and I'm so thankful to God for the gift of music.
Exxon Mobil has also been a great family to me. One of the recent retires figured out that we spend 60% of our lives at work. We sometimes worry that the family atmosphere at work is being lost but all the texts, emails, phone calls, visits and especially prayers prove otherwise. We are still a family and it's up to us to keep it that way. Being sick reminds you how blessed we are to work in a place that has good insurance and sick leave. I want to give thanks to God for having worked at Exxon Mobil for 32 years.
Working in the fire/safety department also creates a strong sense of family. When that alarm goes off and there is a fire or someone is down you have to respond as a group and look out for one another. When you are in that situation you are putting your life in someone else's hands and that trust creates a strong knit group. We can argue with one another, but we don't allow anyone else to come into the station and disagree with a family member. If you confront one person you get us all. Our favorite saying in the station is we love you like a brother or sister. There is even one I love like a daughter. Over the years there have been rumors (just rumors) that the company wants to shut the station down. Not only are we the best trained responders in the country, but we also keep people safe 24/7. Like any family, we will fight to keep our family together.
I also have a family in USW and they are very close to my heart. This is a group of people who work together to keep the refinery safe and fight for fairness, respect, wages and benefits for all employees. This is a thankless job and done without any compensation. It's been a pleasure and a honor to be a leader in this organization since 1979. Being the president of this union has been one of my life's biggest accomplishments. When the committee and executive board deals with such serious issues like someone's loss of job or pay it brings a group close together. Some of my best friends have come out of the USW leadership through the comradery and travel. I thank God for the people who have allowed me to lead them for all of these years.
My dad use to say that he was the most successful man and he was just a welder. We all judge success differently and I believe as him, I'm successful because I have a great family. He was proud of his 6 kids just as I am mine. This challenge has put a great deal of pressure on wife and kids and they have stepped up to the challenge to help me. Without support from them I'd be lost. I'm blessed to have my wife and 2 kids! I also have a strong extended family. My brothers and sisters and I have remained close over the years. We see each other daily and stay involved in each others lives. We were taught to love one another by caring parents who raised us in a 750 square foot house. We slept 3 to a bed and had no choice but to love one another. My wife's family has also been supportive during this time and I feel thankful to have so many loving family members checking in on me each day.
You may noticed I did not mention a church family. This is because I haven't regularly attended church in years but that will change. If you know anyone who has cancer you should pick up the phone and call them or email them. Let them know you are thinking about them. Your email may make a difference in their recovery. It's a challenge to remain in a good state of mind during this process and it helps when you know others are behind you. With a good mental prospective, you are more likely to fully recover. I am so thankful to God for putting so many different families in my life. Without them my life would not be as full. These families support me during the rough times, but I must also mention that I get my main strength from God. Although I've forgotten about the love and support He has given me over the years, I will not make that mistake again. Thank you God for all you've done for me.
"Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name." 1 Chronicles 29:13