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Of cancer and farming

By Staff | Jul 31, 2015

If there is one thing we can learn from farmers, it’s to keep living your dream even though things don’t always turn out the way they should.

And in farming, as in life, we can all attest to the fact that there are no guarantees, no matter how much we plan ahead.

Sometimes there isn’t enough rain or too much rain; not enough heat or too much heat; not enough time or too much time; not enough help; not enough grain; not enough money coming in; too much money going out; not enough power to help animals regain their health sometimes.

It all contributes to stress on the farm, but as any farmer knows, you meet those challenges head-on and do your best to conquer.

And sometimes you do.

I recently took my mother to her appointment at the cancer center.

It’s a place where hairless heads, hats and comfortable clothing are the “in” things. It’s also a place where reality slaps us in the face.

My mother’s diagnosis came three years ago, but after one year of fighting it, she received the unexpected news of remission.

Her last visit was for a checkup, so after her lab work we waited. Would she still be in remission? Would the cancer be there again? After two hours, we learned there was no sign of cancer. Our prayers were answered.

As we were awaiting the results, my mother and I experienced the joy of hearing the bell ring in the waiting room.

A young woman rang the bell. A hat covered her hairless head.

You only ring the bell when you have been declared cancer-free.

Immediately, everyone in the waiting room began to clap for her. She could not control her happy face, and she began to weep.

As she covered her face, her family shrouded her and the hugging began. The applause continued in the waiting area by dozens of people she didn’t even know, but who were there for the same reason she was there.

They were sharing in her joy. And some of them were wiping tears away, too.

A woman seated in the waiting area went over to her, hugged her and offered words of congratulations. Emotions ran wild.

It was plain to see she was exhausted from the battle, but she had received the crown jewel of news -she still had a lot of life to live.

She and her family left the cancer center, arms around each other, gratefully renewed in spirit. They got into a van that declared on the back window, “Today I have my last chemo.”

As I watched this beautiful scenario unfold in such a scary place, I thought about how the life of a farmer and a cancer patient are much the same.

Sometimes on the farm we get news that we don’t want to be true – crops or animals don’t always make it, but we wait things out to see if they rally back. Sometimes the news we get is wildly exciting.

During these experiences we fight forces we can’t control, and our emotions get the best of us leaving a bad taste in our mouths.

The work load exhausts us, and people don’t know how to help us. We don’t know what to do. That is when we discover we’re not in control of everything.

But as cancer patients might tell you, it’s worth the effort put into the daily grind of getting through today in the hope of a better tomorrow.

Farmers do it all the time – they know that tomorrow’s livelihood is not promised.

But they can still carry the hope because sometimes it’s the hope that carries them.

It’s an important part of living the dream, as any cancer patient, or any farmer can tell you.

Schwaller is a Farm News correspondent from Milford. Reach her by e-mail at kschwaller@evertek.net and at www.karenschwaller.com.

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