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2012 Reflections

As the year draws to a close, I can’t help but pause and reflect on the year that has been, the happiness of hope, the pain of despair, and a multitude of ups and downs in between.

The year started with what was perhaps the most hopeful we had been since my diagnosis, that I might actually survive this thing called cancer. The offer of surgery, specifically a retroperitoneal lymph node dissection, was perhaps the closest we had come to some sort of outcome that wasn’t an inevitable demise related to my current predicament. The surgery was six and a half hours, followed by 10 days of recovery as an inpatient. I had to take 3 months off work in order to recover although in retrospect, I could have gone back 2-3 weeks earlier than that.

The anticipation and hope of the new year was shattered in May, a follow up PET scan that cruelly removed the carrot that had been dangled in front of us. Just as we started to believe we could have a future, the harsh reality of my mortality was a rude reminder that didn’t need to be made. Our dreams and plans, that we had been tempted to make again, came crashing down with the news the cancer had returned, and this time in my liver. I remember going back to work, feeling utterly despondent, wondering why I was there. A deep disappointment had settled in that took a few weeks to shake. We were back in the place we were before, perhaps even worse given that the cancer was now in my liver. As routine was re-established, the new revelation was slowly integrated into life again as I restarted chemotherapy.

In amongst this, we decided to have a decent holiday, with three weeks in Italy. This was easily one of the highlights of the year, a festival of food, history and art. I gained a few kilos in weight, only to lose them rapidly with a bout of gastroenteritis at the end. In truth, a decent gastro bug is far more tolerable than chemotherapy, so I didn’t mind the net loss of weight that resulted from our travels.

On the professional front this year, I was informed in August that I was to be a nominee for the NZ Junior RMO of the year award. I received an email whilst in Italy advising me that I had actually won this award! I felt incredibly humbled and privileged, especially in the context of the ongoing saga of my health. I went to Perth in November for a conference where I was also the NZ nominee for the Australasian award, which went to a girl from South Australia. Beyond this I was also kindly awarded ‘best guest lecturer’ by the third year medical students for whom I had lectured earlier in the year.

Coming back to the real world after Italy was a slightly surreal experience surrounded by TV cameras and moves into a newly purchased house. We had bought a house just prior to going on holiday, and had our move in date was planned for 5 days after we were back from Italy. On top of that, 20/20 had approached me to do a follow up story on the one they did last year. This involved two weeks of filming around when we shifted and then aired in November. We received overwhelmingly positive feedback from the story, which we thought was very well put together by the team at TVNZ. The days immediately after the show elevated Hannah and I to pseudo-celebrity status amongst colleagues, friends, and strangers.

The thread that ties the year together has been faith. Not faith in healing, but faith that God has something bigger and better planned than just my life. In the context of this world view, the events in my life are only a trivial quiver on the strings of eternity. My ongoing work at Auckland hospital gives me an insight into the suffering of others, and at the end of the day, I have been blessed with far more than I deserve, and I will be forever grateful that I have got to experience 32 Christmases on this Earth. There may not be a 33rd, but I am okay with that. Finding peace in my mortality has then freed me up to live my life, even though it is short. My life is not consumed with trying to stay alive, it is consumed with living the life that God has meant for me to live; and that is to love others, to show His grace and to build His kingdom.

This Christmas I am thankful I am alive to enjoy it. Next Christmas is always an unknown, but it is Christ I give my thanks to that I am still here.

Until next time…

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  1. Louise Reynolds
    December 28, 2012 at 10:16 am

    Thank you Jared. Your writings encourage and edify those who read them. I am blessed to be able to read them and be encouraged by them.
    You sure “keep the main thing, the main thing”!
    I will not stop praying for you, that you (& Hannah beside you) live every day of your life in the strength and grace of God.
    Love and blessings to you.
    Kia kaha e hoa ma!

  2. Rob Hart
    December 28, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    Blessings, Jared. Thank you for your insights. God is certainly with you as you know. Keep up the good work and I’m certainly praying, as I’m sure lots of others are too, that you’ll see out another year and more.

  3. Chris Hight
    December 28, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    What an inspiring piece Jared. Your story puts life into perspective and reminds us that God is and laways will be the focus of our lives and the reason to live life fully with Him. Thankyou for your encouraging and insightful blogs this year. Chris

  4. Dyana Parore-Connell
    December 28, 2012 at 4:46 pm

    Thankyou for your updates/blogs over this past year. May god continually watch over you (and Hannah) in 2013. You are such an inspirational person. Take care. God bless

  5. Theresa V
    December 28, 2012 at 7:38 pm

    -and it is Christ I too give thanks to for your witness & blog & your strength & service to others! Congratulations on those awards!! I was stunned & laughed at the “Dunedin effect” -as many call it- small city that it is, to walk into a lovely cafe/restaurant over St Clair Beach today, as I meet some old friends as I am visiting here from Australia, and to recognise you & your amazing wife in the best seat in the corner!! Yep Jared you are definitely ‘famous’ to this stranger in the deep Southern city of Dunedin ! I am glad you were enjoying my beautiful hometown & it made me again think thoughtfully of this life we live, this Faith we profess & the story you share with us on the blog. Much Peace & Sunshine to you both on holiday, Kind Regards, Theresa V (friends of Andrea&Rory Grant)

    • Jared
      December 29, 2012 at 8:43 am

      Haha, what a small world. We enjoyed a very tasty lunch at that cafe and a nice walk on the beach afterwards. I hope you enjoy your time here.

      • Theresa
        December 30, 2012 at 8:40 am

        You caught a few sunny days here too. I was given a beauty of a book called “Falling Upward: A Spirituality for The Two Halves of Life” by Richard Rohr yesterday- an intriguing & refreshing concept; ‘ Rohr takes us on a journey to give us an understanding of how the heartbreaks, disappointments, and first loves of life are actually stepping stones to the spiritual joys that the second half of life has..’ You may like?!

  6. Murray Fenton
    December 29, 2012 at 12:12 am

    love and blessings to you both, thank you for sharing, you are an inspiration for many, LOce from Murray and family

  7. John
    January 1, 2013 at 11:12 am

    Thanks Jared for sharing frankly. I do not wish to clutter your blog, but want to join the thousands who thru you have been strengthened. With God’s grace assured, and your hearts inclination, 2013 will be your best year yet, of that we can be sure.

  8. Delphine
    February 8, 2013 at 11:04 am

    You re such an inspiration for me. I wish all sick people in rich countries be treated as in france. Sick people don t work in france and i think it is important to support sick people and to offer them treatment. I just wanted to tell you how strong you are , you deserve many medals. Thank you for your blog

  9. Ctz
    September 15, 2013 at 5:54 pm

    How I missed this… do not know. Such a beautiful post, Jared. It’s September now and I’m praying that The Lord blesses you with time – time in seeing the birth of your child. I’ve said before – I’m so grateful you blog of your journey with cancer. We are the fortunate ones to share your hopes and challenges. God bless, Carol/Vancouver, Canada

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