I’ve always said that when you start feeling sorry for yourself, you should find someone in worse shape than you and help them in some way. To that end I volunteered with “Lee’s Friends” to drive cancer patients to and from their treatments. That’s how I met Johnny. He is terminally ill – with only a few months to live. Witnessing his suffering, I remembered my own mother, dying of cancer repeating: “Why doesn’t someone just get a gun and shoot me.”
Right or wrong, cancer is a big business. Looking at my calendar I see I was driving Johnny at the first of this year. They decided to attempt some experimental treatment on Johnny. So for two weeks I drove him every day to and from his treatments. On Monday he would see his doctors. Other days he would just have chemo. Since I’m completely retired now, thanks to the loss of my hearing, driving Johnny became my job. My day is complete when I drive Johnny. And regardless of how difficult my own life is at the moment, at least I’m not dying of cancer.
This past Monday, Johnny was told the experiment wasn’t working. He would probably die on time as predicted. For some reason, this news was a bigger bump in my road than I expected. But I knew he was dying when I first started driving him. We became closer the more I drove him. I often ask him to “help me drive” by watching for traffic and making sure I’m driving where I should be. He always smiles when I ask him this.
So what do I do now? I continue driving him when he needs a ride, maybe just sit with him. We’re both Dallas Cowboys fans. We may watch a game together.
I also have another cancer patient I drive regularly and others occasionally. Driving them has become the most rewarding volunteer work I’ve ever done. I’ve never heard Johnny or any of the other patients complain. They’ve taught me about gratitude, simplicity, and living in the moment. The future is never guaranteed.