Northampton Press

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CONTRIBUTED PHOTOPress writer Mark Reccek rings the bell signaling the end of six weeks of radiation treatments. CONTRIBUTED PHOTOPress writer Mark Reccek rings the bell signaling the end of six weeks of radiation treatments.

Guest view

Wednesday, August 23, 2017 by MARK RECCEK Special to The Press in Opinion

The final bell rings

Although the radiation doctor said the side effects would ramp up as treatments progressed, I raised my head and shoulders and pushed forward to the finish line.

My final radiation treatment was Aug. 15 at Lehigh Valley Hospital-Muhlenberg. After six weeks of receiving treatments, Monday through Friday, I can officially say I am finished with this stage of cancer treatment.

My final day consisted of a tradition shared by all who complete their course of cancer treatment: I rang a bell signifying the end of radiation.

I must confess, I’m a bit worn out and battered by the treatments, but I, along with others, am seeing progress. I’m grateful these treatments have begun to make a difference.

Yes, I have cancer, and treatments may not have been easy, but I’ve been reminded daily I am alive.

When I think about where I was back in June and where I am today, I am grateful to still be breathing air.

Rather than see a dark lining, I make it a point each day to try to see the beauty of life and embrace the kindness and generosity of family, friends and strangers.

Life is fraught with daily obstacles that may seem insurmountable. Obstacles confronted with a positive attitude make them easier to deal with and to fight through the roadblocks in life.

What’s next, you might ask?

Chemotherapy treatments could be an option in the near future. Chemo, unlike radiation for many, is a tougher road to walk, with the potential side effects difficult to bear. However, I’m ready for what lies ahead. I can either retreat or push forward harder.

You learn through a disease such as cancer that the battle is an incremental process involving a number of factors. Chief among them includes doctors, nurses and medical treatments, support of family and friends, prayer and relying on one’s spirituality.

I believe no one can go through cancer or any other major disease or illness without learning a few lessons that likely will stay with them for life.

I’ve learned the fragility and sanctity of life and the beauty that arrives with each coming day. Because I don’t know what tomorrow may bring, I’ve learned to appreciate the bad with the good. For how can anyone of us truly know goodness and happiness if we have not walked through dark valleys throughout our life?

Also, I learned that family and friends are incredible resources. Often, when one is in need, they will offer their assistance. It’s during those difficult times others will surface to help you move forward in your fight to get well.

And, while no one wants to experience suffering, often there is purpose in suffering. We can use our own suffering to help others go through physical or mental diseases by sharing with them what we learned and how we coped and overcame.

Onward, I now move — to the next stage in conquering cancer!