Skip to Accessibility Tools Skip to Content Skip to Footer

Wasting Time

Do you have tinnitus? It causes a constant ringing in the ears. Mine is pretty strong. I hear it most the time unless I’m listening to loud music or being distracted by a good conversation.

That’s sort of how my leukemia is. No matter what I do, it is always there. Sometimes loud, sometimes quiet, but never really gone.

I’ve been letting Leuk get too loud lately.

Focusing too much on leuk

What’s with that? The sun is shining, the sky is blue with white puffy clouds, we have wild rabbits in our back yard and deer pass by in our front yard. Bird’s singing, owls hooting… all we need is a pretty soprano and seven really short men and we’d have a friggin’ Disney movie. Yet, I somehow managed to ignore all that and focus on my life-threatening disease.

So, imagine I walk out of this coffee shop and step in front of a bus. Saint Peter meets me at the preverbal Pearl Gates. “Hey,” he says, “welcome. Pull up a cloud and have a seat.”

“What? How’d I get here?”

“Well, my friend, you got flattened by a Greyhound.”

“A dog?”

“Hmm,” says Peter, “you must be one of those who hid behind the door when the brains were passed out.”

“That’s an old joke.”

“Hey, it’s eternity. Most jokes around here are.”

“So, you’re saying I didn’t die from leukemia?”

“Why, were you planning too?”

“Well, yeah, sort of. I was diagnosed years ago so I pretty much figured that’s what would take me.”

Who said you’d die of leukemia anyway?”

“Oh, so you’re a prophet now. We’ve got too many of those up here already and they’re really annoying—always whining because they no longer have a job. Who said you’d die of leukemia anyway?”

“Um, well, the doctor told me it could be terminal.”

“Yeah, so, you believe everything you’re told?”

‘No, I mean…”

“Look. We gave you a lot down there, more than most actually. A house in the country, enough wild rabbits to keep you in stew for a lifetime. (That’s a joke, by the way, we’re not much on eating rabbits up here.) You’ve got a beautiful wife, two great kids, and a pack of grandchildren. All that and you’ve wasted time fretting about leukemia?”

I have to admit, Saint Peter would be right.

By the way, that whole death-by-bus thing is not a cliche for me. I knew a person who, months after I met her, actually was hit by a bus. I didn’t know her well, but she was young with a life full of potentials. Then one fateful day she was gone. It can happen to any of us, healthy or not.

Focusing on what matters

Those days I spent worrying were days Leuk won. But most of the time I win. Most of the time, I focus on what’s really important, what really matters in my life. Today I am alive. I think I’ll do my best to focus on that.

And avoid buses.

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.


  • Dan122
    2 months ago

    Jim you describe the big picture of handling this life. For me, melphalan was easy compared to handle the fears of the disease return. A few day ago, I touched the back of my head and fell a lump. I immediately thought that everything is returning, just 4 past the auto SCT. My mind pictured the forthcoming tests, biopsy, myself passing away and my family going home without me. Before having lymphoma I had OCD, so fears come quite fast in my mind. I asked my wife to check if the lumps in my head are growing: she said uhh, no. And the day later I was able to check myself and see that they are not different. My doctor says that some patients check theirs nodes so much that eventually they actually get large. We need to be careful when the fears show up to destroy whatever life we might have. For me, that is the main issue right now.
    Thanks Jim

  • Jim Smith moderator author
    4 weeks ago

    @dan122 Thank you for your comment. You are right, fear can damage whatever life we have left. We shouldn’t waste the time we have. Take care, Dan.

  • Ann Harper moderator
    2 months ago

    @jim-smith Definitely good advice. It’s hard not to let cancer wander into our thoughts, but there is so much more to us and so many positive things we could be focusing on.

    Nice reminder – we all need a little wake-call every now and then. Thanks!

  • Susan Gonsalves moderator
    3 months ago

    @jim-smith. I enjoyed your article and your thoughts. Maybe it is a seasonal thing but I find myself dwelling on leukemia more than being `present’ day to day recently and I’m trying to break myself of that habit. Thanks for the advice.

  • Jim Smith moderator author
    4 weeks ago

    @susanmae Sometimes the grey days of winter can be part of that. Hopefully Spring with be a better season for you. Godspeed, Susan

  • Daniel Malito moderator
    3 months ago

    @jim-smith Worrying and what I call the “mind demons” are things that take up so much of our time when we have cancer. It can pull us down into a spiral if we let it, and sometimes there’s just nothing we can do about it. We fight, every day, no matter what. That’s what cancer patients do. Good stuff. Keep on keepin’ on, DPM

  • Jim Smith moderator author
    4 weeks ago

    @danielpmalito Thanks for reading, Daniel. “Mind demons” is a good way to put it. Keep on fighting the good fight.

  • Poll