The Positives of my Cancer Experience

At our family Christmas gathering, we all gave small speeches. This was mine and looked at the positives of my cancer experience.


I am going to relate to you all tonight something about my cancer experience. Experience can be defined as the accumulation of knowledge that results from direct participation in events or activities. Well, I have definitely been a direct participant in this. But what have I learnt? What has cancer taught me?

Firstly, our lives are incredibly fragile. Even though our bodies are resilient and have astonishing powers of healing, none of us knows how long or how short, our lives are going to be. We have but one life on this earth. We need to learn to appreciate it. In the words of Jack in the 1997 movie, Titanic:

"Well, yes, Ma'am, I do… I mean, I got everything right here with me. I got air in my lungs, a few blank sheets of paper. I mean, I love waking up in the morning not knowing what's going to happen or, who I'm going to meet, where I'm going to wind up. Just the other night, I was sleeping under a bridge and now here I am on the grandest ship in the world having champagne with you fine people. I figure life's a gift and I don't intend wasting it. You don't know what hand you're gonna get dealt next. You learn to take life as it comes at you… to make each day count!"

I now really appreciate the meaning of these words. To me, life has become a richer experience. Colours are brighter. Emotions are deeper. Nights are quieter. My wife is lovelier. Life is simpler. I have learnt to appreciate what we have got in this life, not what we haven't. True pleasure comes from playing with Robin in the pool, seeing Samantha learn to ride, feeding the ducks with the children, or having a picnic at the dam as a family. But also, it is about appreciating the power and majesty of a highveld thunderstorm and the quiet and tranquillity of the first moments of a new day – the realisation that there is a higher being than ourselves; whatever we may conceive it to be. But most of all, it is knowing that the most precious gift we have in this world is our family.

Thank you all. I love you.

John Tarboton Author