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Trading Places: Not Sure Where To Post This

PhillieG's picture
PhillieG
Posts: 4912
Joined: May 2005

NOTE: I posted this almost two years ago in another forum on CSN. I kind of revisited the scenario yesterday after chemo. Well, not exactly since this person did not appear to have "health", they looked to have AIDS. They were panhandling on a street corner and looked to be in bad shape, they were in their 20's and had the purple blotches on their face. Rarely do I give money but often I get a sandwich and give them that instead. Giving them a sandwich certainly made their moment, I've rarely heard a bigger "THANKS MISTER" in my entire life.
While at times I'm less than thrilled with my current health situation, I'm used to it and it's manageable. Overall quality of life is good with the exception of the 3-4 days of chemo hangover. I really felt bad for this person. They didn't seem to have much going for them but maybe they ARE happy after all. What defines happiness? Money, Health, Contentment, Spirituality? Something else?
Maybe my "point" (if any) is we all have our crosses to bear (As the Allman Brothers song goes, and yes, the religious connection too)
Below is the original post from 8/18/2010
______________________________________________________________________________
I am not quite sure where to post this, there is no "Food for Thought" section but I don't think this is out of line on here either. I'm sure I'll find out one way or another.

I was in NYC last Friday to have a RFA done. It went very well, I did not have to stay the night at all. I was getting a ride back from my brother in law and on our way out of the city, he had to stop at a Whole Foods store. I decided to stay in the car, we were up in the Upper West Side, past Columbia University. Anyway, while I was hanging out in the car I noticed a guy who looked to be about 50 (like me) and appeared to be down on his luck. He was asking everyone how walked by if they had any spare change. If they said "no" then he would ask them "why not?". Some people walked past him doing there best to ignore him, one woman said that she had nothing now but on her return trip she would give him something. She did walk past 5 minutes later and did give him some change. The guy was heavyset and bearded, he wore a flannel shirt. Thankfully it wasn't that hot out but he did not look like he had his own apartment and most likely he probably stayed in a shelter. I have no basis for coming to these conclusions but often one can look at a situation and draw some conclusions.

So here is a thought that I had which I've had other times. Assuming that this person was in good health (aside from being overweight) he was an African American*, he looked to be homeless, jobless, and not well educated and he did not look to have a family life to speak of. He did not look to have many prospects either although he looked like he raked in about $5 in 10 minutes. So I ask, would you change places with him** given the chance so you could have health, but not a whole lot more.

*I only add that since I'm a Caucasian male and have not had to face issues that I would have had to face if I were an African American.
** I am not suggesting to give another person your cancer, just to have health but their life situation.

wolfen's picture
wolfen
Posts: 1326
Joined: Apr 2009

I missed this one the first time around.

I do not have Cancer, but am not necessarily a picture of health and contentment. I would not want to trade places with this gentleman.

It's true that we all have our own crosses to bear. I have always felt we all live in our own hell, some of which we created, some of it created by outside factors.

So many times we lament the fact that we don't have such and such, all the time forgetting the things that we DO have. I am certainly guilty of this one.

Luv,

Wolfen

Lovekitties's picture
Lovekitties
Posts: 3355
Joined: Jan 2010

I would not trade places with any person regardless of their situation to have health or wealth or anything else.

Why? Because I would then have to give up those persons in my life that mean so much to me. No matter what my health or wealth may or may not be, the people in my life are precious to me.

When I say 'people' I don't mean just those I am related to, even though they are at the top of the list. I also include my neighbors, the helpful folks I have met as a result of my illness, the people here and so many others who have given me kindness.

I accept life as it is and try to make small improvements in how I live it every day.

dmj101's picture
dmj101
Posts: 527
Joined: Nov 2011

you are right.. for all the problems associated with cancer.. this mans issues are world different..
The challenge would be to overcome when the world keeps knocking them down..
Good for you buying the sandwich I do the same..
In fact I sometime put in time in a soup kitchen to remind myself as bad as I have it it could always be worse.

Doc_Hawk's picture
Doc_Hawk
Posts: 685
Joined: Jan 2012

I used to give $5 gift cards to McDonald's to homeless people until a few of them cussed at me, shouting "I want money" followed by a variety of insults.

dmj101's picture
dmj101
Posts: 527
Joined: Nov 2011

you are right.. for all the problems associated with cancer.. this mans issues are world different..
The challenge would be to overcome when the world keeps knocking them down..
Good for you buying the sandwich I do the same..
In fact I sometime put in time in a soup kitchen to remind myself as bad as I have it it could always be worse.

Cathleen Mary
Posts: 827
Joined: May 2011

I wouldn't trade places either. In some strange way, cancer is my difficult privilege. Although, I certainly would not have chosen to have this disease, I have meet many wonderful people I never met before, including myself! I thought I knew myself fairly well but I didn't know the depth of the strength within me, the unconditional love that surrounds me, or how to attend consistently to that which matters most to me. I pay more attention...to everything.

Cathleen Mary

YoVita's picture
YoVita
Posts: 590
Joined: Mar 2010

The only person I would trade with is my younger self so I could have had the colonoscopy earlier :)

Doc_Hawk's picture
Doc_Hawk
Posts: 685
Joined: Jan 2012

No way. My brother (the one who wants my bike in his life more than me) keeps telling me that if I were to join his church he believes that God would remove my cancer and restore me to full health. I told him that I would rather God do that for some young and innocent child who should have a full and healthy life instead of me.

Kathleen808's picture
Kathleen808
Posts: 2361
Joined: Jan 2009

Interesting thread Phil. You're a great thinker and I love it when you share.

We encountered this thought when our youngest daughter was 2 years old. She only weighed 16 lbs, couldn't walk, was being looked at for having autism and was struggling in so many areas. It was a hard time for our young family. Dick was talking to a neighbor who was dealing with her own issues. She said if we all got together and wrote down on cards the hard things we were dealing with and put the cards in a pile and had to choose a few cards to live with most of us would probably pick up our own cards and carry on. We have found this to be true. I'm not saying Dick is happy by any means to have cancer but we have talked about our cards and feel we are able to go forward one step at a time. Yes, we have many blessings. Hard stuff too but the blessings are good. Hmmmmmmm

Aloha,
Kathleen

steved
Posts: 835
Joined: Apr 2004

I think it is useful to reflect on our own burdens and others. I think we are at risk of wallowing in our own pity and problems and need to look up to see others out there struggling with their problems which may be greater than ours. But in truth there are huge faults in all this too. we often make very quick assumptions about people's burdens- more often under estimating them (I know people who don't know me may look at me and see a well seeming guy,with loving family, good job,nice house and make assumptions on that) but at times perhaps over esetimating (assuming a person with problems may be unhappy with their lot as is often assumed of disabled people).

There is also the issue of which burdens we have control over. None of us chose to have cancer and many of us can't do anything to stop having cancer (we may have done things that made it more likely to have happened but that is different). A person who is homeless may be able to make choices to change that- gradual slow incremental choices and aspirations that may lead them away from that burden. For many of us that is not a possibility. Does that alter what kind of burden we may choose to have?

It is certainly important for us to all lift our heads and see others around us and still do all we can to help others. It is a healthy part of living with cancer to not allow it to define us and not lead us to feel we are worse off than others. Comparing burdens is difficult too- I hate it here when people compare each others urdens as being less or greater than their own. Is a person with stage 3 carrying less of a burden than stage 4 - not necessarily.

Important things to reflect on and ultimately part of moving to accepting our burdens which is really all we are trying to move to. It is acceptance that ultimately allows us best to live our lives what ever it is we carry with us.

steve

tommycat's picture
tommycat
Posts: 790
Joined: Aug 2011

(I love your posts Phillieg, and always read them.)
Choosing to trade places with a person who has health, but not a whole lot more...hmmmm.
I remember a saying that purports health is the Number 1 and everything else is a zero. So you could have happiness, love, peace, satisfaction, self-actualization, enjoyment----100,000---but without the 1--health--you have/enjoy nothing.
Defying the logic of mathematics, I say it isn't true. Yes, it's hard to enjoy life when cancer has it's teeth in you, but never for a moment did I feel like my life lacked meaning.
If I was homeless, perhaps sleeping on cardboard under a bridge, dumpster diving to eat other people's garbage, etc., I would seriously doubt the point of my existence and question why I lived in misery.
Cancer is brutal and unfair, but it can never ever touch what I hold dearest.
So, my answer is no...I wouldn't trade my life--even with it's pain--for anything.
Hugs to you~
tommycat

tommycat's picture
tommycat
Posts: 790
Joined: Aug 2011

PS: I believe this is very appropriate place to post your question....the posts on the other much-less read and much-less used areas aren't looked at often.
Why let your great post go unnoticed?
Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

PhillieG's picture
PhillieG
Posts: 4912
Joined: May 2005

I know I sometimes get a little bored with talking CEA stuff or just general cancer talk. Not to say that isn't important, I just like to throw questions out there now and then as food for thought. We all have what we have and that's that. We really are a special group of people here.
-phil

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