A Testament to Living Gratefully

I am indebted to my friend, Fred Oakley, for sharing his story of gratitude.  Fred, you remind us all to live in thankfulness.

In context of November's Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month, here is Fred's story:  Fred had melanoma, which spread to be a melanoma tumor on his pancreas.  While not technically pancreatic cancer, this was as equally as dangerous, he was told.  Fred is still here today, after several years. 

He is grateful.  In his words, "The first thing I have learned is to fully appreciate life and God who gives it. To me, every day is a free day. I was told by my oncologist at Vanderbilt in June 2000 that there was nothing more that could be done for me. I was sent home with no hope. That's when I decided to call my doctor at John Wayne Cancer Institute and was given another chance for survival. It took me almost 1.5 years to win the battle completely after having major surgery and 1 year 4 months of experimental chemo. That was my 6th recurrence in 7 years. 

I appreciate The Lord for healing me, not in the way that I wanted, but healed me nonetheless. While I was going through the surgeries and treatments, I wondered where The Lord was. I felt like He was distant. But looking back at that time in my life now, I see that He was there all along.

I am also very appreciative of all my family members and friends. Relationship are more precious to me now.

A few tidbits about pancreatic cancer and melanoma which Fred shared with me:

  • Pancreatic cancer is the fourth-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the U.S.  It is the only major cancer in the U.S. with a five-year survival rate in the single digits at an alarming 7 percent.
  • About 48,960 people (24,840 men and 24,120 women) will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  About 40,560 people (20,710 men and 19,850 women) will die of pancreatic cancer.

  • To help prevent pancreatic cancer, enjoy a well-balanced diet including a lot of vegetables and low in sugar.

  • To help prevent melanoma, not only limit sun exposure, but also exposure to certain chemicals that can cause melanoma.  And do a monthly skin exam, as melanoma is one of the easiest cancers to prevent by catching it in early stages.

Fred, thank you for how you add to so many lives.  Thank you living your life as a gift!  (And, just so you know ... Fred is a great general contractor, in case you need a little re-modeling of your house!)


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