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My New Outlook

I tell myself that I need to live every day as if it were my last. I should live for today, enjoy my time on this planet, and not waste a moment.

Well, that’s the plan anyway.

I have CLL and you’d think that would be enough to make me more aware of my mortality and appreciate every moment I’m given. But I’ve been complacent.

You see, I’m in the wait and watch stage and, other than getting tired sometimes, I have nearly no symptoms. I go day to day as if I have all the time in the world.

CLL might not have changed my outlook but something else did

That lackadaisical attitude recently changed though. Not because of my cancer but because my wife is going to have a liver biopsy. They think she may have liver disease. Suddenly her life is threatened. Now, I’m not saying she has it. The biopsy hasn’t been done yet, but her blood test numbers aren’t looking good.

So, of course, we’ve gone down the rabbit hole considering the worst. It may be nothing, but for now, I am seeing my wife and my marriage in a whole different light. The woman I married 45 years ago, the one I met in kindergarten, the person who’s been a part of my life since I was 5 years old, might leave me.

Appreciating each moment with my wife

It cuts at my gut. I can’t protect her. All we can do is wait and hope. Suddenly making the most of every day has a whole different meaning. It’s more specific. It’s not just living for today and appreciating the time I’m given. It’s way more than that. It’s living each day with her; appreciating each moment with her.

Yes, I have a potentially terminal disease, but losing her, even just the threat of losing her, is too much to bear.

By the time this post is published, we’ll have had our answer about her condition. Perhaps the test will be negative, maybe it is nothing. Or, maybe she will only need to take some pills and she’ll be fine. I hope so.

But even if she is disease-free, I will never again take her for granted. “Living for today” has very little meaning to me, but living each day with her does.

Recognizing what caregivers go through

Cancer has become a part of me. I suppose I’ve been a little cavalier about the whole thing. But now I appreciate what my wife has been going through; how she has secretly suffered for me. Now I understand what my cancer is putting her through. Now I know what it feels like to face the possibility of losing the one I love.

I thought I knew what love was when I married her. I didn’t, not really. We were both young and healthy then. Now, our lives are challenged in ways we couldn’t have foreseen. Now, more than ever before, we are grabbing every moment together and holding on tight. It turns out that life isn’t about appreciating each day. Love is.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Daniel Malito moderator
    2 months ago

    @jim-smith It’s inspiring to hear that you are still kickin’ it with the wifey, as it were, especially for someone like me who is single and hoping to find what you have. It really is Jim. It sounds almost as if cancer had at least one good side effect, making you value your time with her, so that’s amazing as well. All of this and it’s Thanksgiving as well, and I”m sure your tests will be negative, something to be truly thankful for. Keep on keepin’ on, Jim! DPM

  • Ann Harper moderator
    2 months ago

    @jim-smith I really hope the results are negative and you can put your mind at rest. I will say a prayer for you and your wife.

  • Yolanda Brunson-Sarrabo moderator
    2 months ago

    I wish everyone could experience this type of love,,, through thick and thin that person who has your back unconditionally. What a beautiful piece!
    Wishing your wife gets the test result of no type of disease. Best wishes to the both of you!

  • Ramae Hamrin moderator
    2 months ago

    This is beautiful — how your wife’s health condition taught you to savor each moment more than your own. That is love! Our friend, Cherie, often said it was all about love anyway, and you expressed that so eloquently in your writing. And I agree with you. Cancer taught me more about love than good health ever did.

  • Deb Wesloh moderator
    2 months ago

    I liked how you gave a different perspective on not only being a cancer patient yourself but being a caregiver of someone that potentially has a disease. I am hoping that by now you have gotten her results and all is well. Best wishes to you and your wife.

  • Anthony Carrone moderator
    2 months ago

    Hey Jim, This is beautiful and I can’t help but hear Jason Isbell’s song “If We Were Vampires” as I read. It’s not the happiest love song you’ll ever hear, but it is all about the point you are making here. We love not because of the way our partner looked on the first date, or the way they spoil us, but because our time is limited here. In the song, Isbell says, “Maybe time running out is a gift, I’ll work hard to the end of my shift to give you all the time that I can find”. It reminded me of your last paragraph. Thanks for writing so honestly about things that aren’t easy to talk about, Jim. Keeping you and your wife in my thoughts and sending positive vibes.

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