I remember the things that went through my head when the realization that I had prostate cancer took hold. For me the toughest part was waiting on the biopsy and wondering if I had the “bad” kind. I now refer to that as the Frank Zappa kind. Then there was the part of knowing I had a ” reasonable kind” and the emotional journey that that entailed. Telling people you love, how to tell associates, when to tell friends and patients. After the diagnosis all the stuff is set in motion to deal with the problem and arranging for all the details. What to do, who to do it, where, when? It helps in a way, to get your mind off the problem. It moves from ” I have cancer ” to ” what am I going to do about it ” and that in away helps one move on and is a bit comforting.
It is a bit like when my mother died. I was very close to her and she had not been well for a time, but that did lessen the impact of that day. But, something funny happened. We set about immediately doing all the details of the funeral. The details of the funeral, the obituary, the newspaper, the funeral home, the casket, changing my work schedule, the date and location of the viewing, closed casket or not, which church, which music, ( I wanted Frank Sinatra ” I did it my way” or maybe a little Ella, ( mother adored them both). The priest in LaGrange, Ga said, ” absolutely not” about my suggestion of swing music….damn it…. mother would have loved it. We even did a brochure for the service that pictures of her as a child, high school, and some great pictures of her extended family at the beach. She absolutely loved water, sun, the beach and Rushton, my oldest brother who was a musician in Gulf Shores, Ala where we would go. My favorite picture of my mother is from her LaGrange High School annual. All the pictures had a small caption that I suppose was intended to sum up that person’s view of life. Under my mother’s name, Jennie Cooper Davis, ( I think her name is cool, so southern, so family inspired) it said , ” Calm as a hurricane.”
Anyway, all the stuff surrounding the funeral helped time pass and get our minds of mother and into all the planning. It is as if the funeral tradition maybe for that very purpose, and of course the closure that it brings.
My brother Bob had been in the car business around that time. He and I went to the funeral home to pick out a casket. Out of nowhere, it was almost as if it was a secret chamber inculcated within the funeral home was the “casket room.” It was indeed like a show room, and without our consent or even being aware it was being done, we were being pitched all the various caskets as if they were different models of cars, different bells and whistles, prices, colors, wood vs. metal, and an underlying sense was waffled about regarding what our mother ” deserved.” After the tour, we end up in another room that is absolutely delightful, comfortable in everyday, and well-appointed. Aside…. when you go look at cars and you pick one, do you remember going inside to the office to then discuss price and terms? This is referred to in the car business as ” the close.” The close is when the deal is struck and signed, or done. If you spend time showing a car, talking, negotiating but don’t close…well you as the salesperson get nothing if there ain’t no closing the deal. The truly great sales people know how to close, read Zig Zigler some time…there are books devoted to it. The use of asking a question and then being silent…is a technique. I have used them as M.D. to help patients get to a decision… or for me to close the deal….i.e. sir…do you want to do something or live with it….silence………
So, where you go actually buy the car is the closing room. It is there that a sales manager (more experience closing) just happens to show up in a helpful way but is there to facilitate the decision-making process and to encourage the buyer to move forward and to make the decision to purchase the vehicle.
Now, we are sitting in this room that is so comfortable and nice, we’ve seen the caskets and are figuring out that balancing act of ” if we really loved mother we’d buy the most expensive casket.” A different man comes in, he offers us something eat or drink…man it was nice and I felt very special…I began to think to my self, ” why am I here anyway.” As the man positions him self across from us in a plush oversized chair, my brother Bob says, ” This one hell-of-a closing room you got here bud!”
Regarding Moishe Rosen…I had never heard of him untill this morning. It took a little digging to find out when he was diagnosed. Long indolent slow growing type of prostate cancer or the one diagnosed late….unfortunately he was the latter. Zappa, Monkhouse, Ablin, Bixby, Fogleberg………when this happens it most usually an awareness issue where men for what ever reason have not had regular exams.
Another reminder for all of us to be more diligent in informing those around us we love to ” get checked.” Let’s not be that 3% that everybody talks about. Such a small number huh? If it’s one in a hundred and you are that one…..that’s a hundred% right?
Adversity Brings Opportunity by Moishe Rosen
May 28, 2009
Now that I am 77 years old, I think it is safe to say that my lifelong belief that I would die young was an illusion. When I was 15 I knew I wouldn’t reach 20. When I was 20 I knew I wouldn’t make it to 25, and so on. Some might think it was a morbid illusion, but the idea that I didn’t have very long to live always pushed me to take advantage of as many opportunities as I could.
Well, I missed my opportunity to die young. I’ve even missed the opportunity to die semi-old, though I’ve had some close calls. But in February of 2007 I was diagnosed with prostate cancer that had metastasized to the bones. So, unless God intervenes, my latest illness is terminal.
I may or may not be here next year, but in any case, this illness has become an occasion for me to seek out opportunities. Maybe you are facing illness or adversity and are looking for similar opportunities. Here is a bit of what I’m learning.
Adversity is an opportunity to gain perspective.
Do you remember being a kid on a road trip, continually asking, “Are we there yet?” or, “Are we almost there?” Maybe later on you found yourself on the receiving end of such questions, which are almost always asked with impetuous impatience.
We need perspective, not only at beginnings, but also at the end of things, as well as in-between, so that we might patiently understand the rate of travel. Adversity has us asking questions to help us determine what is ahead, and what we should do about it. Adversity points out where we have been, and challenges us to realize where we are at.
When God asked Adam, “Where are you?” it was not because the Almighty Creator had failing sight or suddenly forgot the geography of the Garden of Eden. No, He was asking Adam to take stock and gain perspective regarding his spiritual condition. In the face of adversity, be it physical or spiritual, God asks us where we are—not because He doesn’t know, but because He wants us to gain perspective, to see if we are where we should be.
Adversity is an opportunity to appreciate all we’ve been given, as well as the Giver.
I, for one, was certainly dealt a better life than I feel I deserved. I’ve had a lot of goodness, a little pain—until now, when the pain is not so little—as well as a lot of joy and a little regret. I can truly say to God, “Giving myself to You was the best deal I ever got. The life that You’ve given me in return has been bountiful and beautiful.” But it’s important for me not to focus my attention merely on the quality of life I’ve received, but on the Giver of life who loved and gave Himself for me. Remembering His goodness in the midst of suffering makes it easier to look forward to the goodness that awaits and lasts forever, far beyond the reach of sickness and suffering. But in the meanwhile . . .
Adversity is an opportunity to enter into suffering with Christ.
Jesus didn’t suffer less because of His perfection. He endured more pain than anything that is expected of me or you. Satan’s weapon of pain is almost, but not quite, devastating. But we can endure the burden of agony by folding our soul into Him who endured and overcame. Pain rips us open and we find that we can accept the entry of others into our lives with new openness and vulnerability.
Adversity is an opportunity to seek reconciliation.
I always knew that the Lord expected me to seek reconciliation with some people “sooner or later.” But since “later” might come soon, I’d better move now. As I pack my spiritual baggage for this journey, I don’t regret much that I have done, but I do regret much that I have not done. So I have been calling and writing to people whom I’ve neglected.
Adversity is an occasion to tell and receive blunt truths.
I’ve also put off dealing with some people because in order to be righteous, I need to be blunt. For example, a Christian friend borrowed money from me. I don’t ordinarily lend money; I would rather simply give it, because I hate to be put in a position of being my own collection agency. But this person would not allow me to give the money, so with much reassurance of repayment, I loaned it—and have not been repaid. Now I need to tell my friend bluntly to either pay back the loan, or else accept my forgiveness for keeping the money that I wanted to give in the first place.
This is also a time for me to hear blunt words from others who encounter some of my difficult ways. I recently had a small quarrel with a good friend, just because I insisted on picking up the check for a meal. I’ve got to admit, it was pride that led me to insist on picking up the check. I didn’t think of my friend’s feelings, or how I ought to defer when others would also like to be generous. Which brings me to the next opportunity.
Adversity is an opportunity to show love.
It’s not just a matter of saying, “I love you,” or sending a cardboard greeting card in February. We can do many things to demonstrate our affection. I have been avoiding one friend who asked me to read a manuscript. Up until very recently, I’ve not been able to read because of a cataract. But I recently had such a successful surgery that now I can enjoy reading more than ever. Still, it takes time and concentration, both of which I have in limited supply. But I know the loving thing is to read and comment on at least the first couple of chapters of my friend’s book. Who knows? Once I start, I might read it all the way through. That’s one way I can show love.
As lovers of Y’shua, we should be giving ourselves to one another. Maybe some young people I know might need a grandfather in their lives. At 77, I’ve had some experience at that and can give myself to others that way. And while traveling down the streets in my power wheelchair, I like to give smiles to whoever I see.
Sharing resources is another way to show love. I enjoyed making out my will. Yes, my wife gets most of it, though “it” is far less than it was this time last year. But making a will was an occasion for me to remember people and institutions I love and want to support. Even if you don’t have much, pretend like you have a million dollars. Sit down and ask yourself how you can provide for those who depend on you, and what you have to give to those you love.
Adversity is an opportunity to strengthen the character of our souls through spiritual exercises.
I’m constantly finding something in the Bible that I didn’t see before. (Or maybe I saw it before and recently forgot it because of the pain medication!) It is good to continue discovering things in God’s Word. I’ve also found that I’m enjoying prayer more than ever. Which brings me to the next opportunity.
Adversity is an opportunity to confer blessings on others.
If we have been blessed of God, and God has given us much, like Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, we can transmit that blessing to others. I’ve invited certain Christians to bring their children to me to be blessed, but the blessing is not restricted to children.
Mark Levitt is the son of one of my closest friends, Zola Levitt, who went to be with the Lord in 2006. Mark was left with the full responsibility of carrying on Zola’s ministry. I wanted to bless him as the leader of that ministry, recognizing him as God’s choice for the task. And so I anointed Mark as a symbolic recognition that he is the head of Zola Levitt Ministries, and David Brickner joined me.
Adversity is an opportunity to be a witness.
This is the most important opportunity of all. If you want to pray for me, pray that my death might correspond to my life. Throughout years of ministry, God directed me and gave me enough courage to attempt difficult things; He gave me the strength to be an overcomer. He took Jews for Jesus from being a small group with a curious slogan and made us into an international witness to Jewish people everywhere. I marvel at what God has done; it has meant so much to me to be part of it. Now, I hope for the courage to die in a way that will put the seal on the meaning of my life.
The other day my wife told me, “Don’t dig your grave before you’re ready to lie down in it!” So even though I am getting ready, I’m not going to resign from life. Please don’t mourn me before I’m gone. But I would appreciate your prayers, as I take to heart a verse that applies to the young and healthy, as well as to the old and infirm. That is, “So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).
4 Replies to “Moishe Rosen’s (1932-2010) perspective on terminal prostate cancer one year ago-poignant”
What a beautiful and inspiring article! He was a remarkable soul. But Dr. McHugh, would you please reprint the last verse. Somehow, it was left off of the bottom of the page.
thank you ….you are right…. the best part left off…. i fixed it …… teach us to number our days…. jm
Beautiful! I’m going to commit these thoughts to memory so that if my recent LRP is ultimately unsuccessful they will be a guide as I move onward.
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Adversity an opportunity?