As Presented at the 2015 Survivors’ Dinner Life Is A Gift Tony Robbins once said, “Life is a gift, and it offers us the privilege, opportunity, and responsibility to give something back by becoming more.”
This year, the Cancer Society held their annual survivors dinner under the theme “Life Is A Gift.” Many anticipated survivors gathered to celebrate yet another year of life filled with an abundance of privileges, opportunities, and responsibilities to give something back by becoming more.” This “becoming more” phrase involved, ‘becoming more thankful, becoming more appreciative and enjoying life as a gift.’
This is the story of Jerry Frazier’s LIFE as a GIFT.
“Time and time again, we hear about people being diagnosed with cancer and the common misconception that many people have is that rarely do people become a cancer survivor. I have always heard about people fighting cancer, but never did I ever imagine that I would be someone who would be diagnosed with cancer and even become a cancer survivor. I had a pretty normal life. My days were spent managing our rental property full time and part time as a Facilities Manager at our church. I enjoyed hobbies such as snorkeling, fishing and spending time on the beach with my family. I worked out at the gym three days a week for many years and ate mostly healthy food. This was my regular routine until one day I had a tragic turn.
One morning in January of 2002 while shaving, I noticed a lump on the left side of my throat. Curious and somewhat anxious, I went to my General Practioner (GP) who then started me on a course of antibiotics. I was feeling hopeful, but unfortunately, the lump did not go away and so he tried a different course of antibiotics. Sadly, months went by and the lump was still there. Finally, in June of 2002 I went to my dentist for my routine 6 months cleaning. When I opened my mouth for the Hygienist she exclaimed, “Oh my God what’s that?” She gave me a mirror to look in my mouth and I saw the ugliest deformed mass of whatever was in the back of my throat. I went back to my GP who sent me for an ultrasound and the results were sent to an ENT in Miami. I flew to Miami where the ENT took a biopsy of the mass on my tonsil and within minutes he came back with the results… cancer!
Up until then, the only symptom I had was the visible lump on my throat. The initial thought that flashed through my mind when the doctor said that I have cancer was; “I’m going to die! I’m too busy to be sick. I don’t have time for this.” It seemed as if the ENT could read my thoughts because upon analyzing the horrific and disappointing look on my face, he assured me that my survival rate was 95% and that I was not going to die. Immediately, I had a change of heart and mind and I adapted a positive and optimistic outlook on the situation. I accepted that I needed to be in Miami for several months of treatment. At the time of diagnosis, I had been following Jesus for 7 years and it shook my faith to hear that I had cancer. One likes to believe that if you are a Christian nothing bad will ever happen to you. This is simply not the case, as we all experience sickness and death in our flesh bodies at some point in our lives. Through prayer and praise to God all areas of my life improved as I underwent treatment. Without my wife, children, parents, brothers, nephews, nieces, close friends and many church family members caring for me, counseling me, visiting me and praying for my survival, I would have suffered more pain and anguish than what I was going through.
Following diagnosis, I immediately took the initiative to start drinking and eating more healthy foods and taking vitamin C supplements. Friends were suggesting many other remedies, but after consulting my radiologist and oncologist, they both said my cancer was too aggressive and advanced for alternative treatments and that my best option for survival was radiation and chemotherapy for 6 weeks.
As above-mentioned, I was greatly blessed with the support from my immediate and extended family, my friends and prayer groups from many churches in many countries around the world! I felt so loved, blessed and encouraged that I was ready to go through treatment. However, I did not know what radiation therapy and chemotherapy were, so my Social worker at the hospital where I was going to be treated gave my name and number to a man about my age, with the same diagnosis that had recently completed treatment. He called me and explained the procedure that he went through and what I could expect. Knowing this, cut my anxiety in half! Though my anxiety was decreased knowing these things, I wish I was advised to exercise my arms and legs daily so as to maintain strength in my limbs. Similarly, being told to have a physiotherapist show me exercises that I could do throughout my treatment to minimize the effect that the radiation would have on my ability to open my mouth fully, would have also been beneficial.
I am so blessed to be a cancer survivor. My advice to anyone who is newly diagnosed with cancer is that you have your name placed on prayer lists so that many will be praying for you to survive according to God’s Will and that His presence will be with you throughout your treatment. Secondly, get advice from others who have recently completed treatment of a similar diagnosis so that you will know what to expect. Also, do not be too surprised if you find out that your health insurance does not cover cancer treatment. That was something that I wish I knew before I was diagnosed.
My outlook on life has changed since my cancer diagnosis and survival. I owe it all to God and my cancer diagnosis for this drastic change in my outlook on life. Every day is a gift, so be thankful for each day. No matter what you are going through, there is always someone else going through something worse, so be encouraged and pray for others who are suffering or grieving. Love each other deeply.”