When I was 5 years old, my father took me to the Jersey Shore for my first ocean fishing excursion. We joined other fishermen (and wannabes) on a charter boat, loaded up our gear and off we went. I was so excited. Time with Dad. Time on the ocean. Who knows what we'd catch? It was a dream come true for a little boy.
I have such vivid memories of that trip. We actually saw whales off the Jersey Shore. Imagine that.I remember leaning over the edge of the boat, watching the frothy wake behind the boat as we headed into deeper waters. Everything was perfect, except for one small thing: no one told me to gaze at the horizon.Staring down into the waves and wake is a guaranteed prescription for sea sickness. And, sick I got.For the remainder of the day, a good 6 to 8 hours, I spent my time sipping Ginger Ale while my Dad propped me up against a bench to help me stay stabilized.There also were several trips to the boat's railing, where I would give back to the ocean a little bit of what she gave me. I hate being sea sick.Chemotherapy reminds me of being sea sick. It's the feeling one has after being violently ill on the ocean and then returning to land. While you want to kiss the ground upon return, you can't help but still feel queezy, dizzy and disoriented. That's how I feel after my chemotherapy.I'm almost at the midpoint in my treatment, with three months left. But it might as well be an eternity on days like today. Land just can't come soon enough.My illness makes me think about other people. I have itgood.
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I should be recovering, if all continues to go well. The 11-centimeter tumor in my chest has shrunk to about 2 centimeters in just a short time.I was told about 10 percent of people have the kind of speedy recovery I'm experiencing. So, I'm not cursed. I'm blessed.But what about people with much more serious illnesses? How about terminal cancer? And, how about those with a terminal illness who also are on chemo? Now, those are the people I would call heroes. I'm an absolute wimp when it comes to nausea.I spend far too much time thinking about myself, my life, my desires, my circumstances. All around me there are people with
challenges. I just hope and pray what I'm going through will enable me to not only empathize with such folk, but that my empathy leads me to real transformation.You don't know how good you have it until the good you have turns sour. The sour times in life, I believe, help us identify with others. At least they present a golden opportunity.Who do you know who needs a smile? A helping hand? Encouragement? It's within your ability to reach out and make a difference. Seize the day.Mike Paolicelli is founding pastor of Renew Church, which has its grand opening Easter Sunday at 10:30 a.m. at Lake Wylie Elementary School. He will kick off a new, original message series called "Rediscover Jesus Christ." It will be a challenge for him and the young church as he continues to battle his cancer. But perhaps you will find strength and encouragement in his story. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit Godfactor.com.