Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Guest Post: Kent Yoder

Today marks another first for thunderstrokes:  the first guest post.  It comes courtesy of Kent Yoder, a friend and fellow blogger.

Kent and I came to know each other through our mutual friends, Rick and Karri.  Over the years, we would connect at the occasional get-together, and, of course, Rick and Karri’s seminal white elephant party at Christmastime.  I always appreciated Kent’s quick comebacks, sarcastic asides, and obscure references (three of my favorite pastimes); and as a result, we formed a kind of friendship by association, a friendship once removed, you might say.  For a short while, we actually worked together at the post office, and it was during that time that I developed an appreciation for Kent’s honesty and dedication, and learned that his sharp, dry wit wasn’t just something he saved for parties.

Last year, Kent was unexpectedly diagnosed with prostate cancer (really, is there any other way to be diagnosed?).  Over the last twelve months the disease, and its treatment, have taken a serious toll on him physically.  Seeing him, especially as infrequently as I do, is to be surprised all over again by the constant and relentless siege he is enduring.  He seems to exist within an increasingly narrow range of the physical spectrum, between manageable discomfort on the good side, and unalleviated pain on the bad.  Despite this, his positive attitude, sense of humor, and a certain, not wholly definable form of good-natured nonchalance - or is it humility? I can’t quite put my finger on it - continue to throw out sparks from under the inconceivable weight of fatigue and suffering.

It’s funny.  I am finding it difficult to find the right words to describe him to you.  Fortunately, Kent has provided a far better glimpse into the person he is through his own writing.  Since being diagnosed, he has been blogging about his battle with cancer at a website called CaringBridge.  CaringBridge is a donor-supported website that gives people who have suffered, as they put it, a “health event” a place to freely express their thoughts and feelings, post updates, and receive words of support from friends and family.  Kent recently wrote two posts reflecting over his first year with cancer, which I loved so much I asked if he would allow me to repost them here.  He graciously agreed.    

So, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to get out of the way now, and let Kent’s words make the rest of the introduction.         

One Year Later

Written Jun 20, 2012 12:37pm by Kent Yoder
Okay, so does that make me a one year survivor, or fighter? Since I still have the stinking stuff, I'm saying fighter. Don't know why it always does this silly double space thing when I copy something from Word, and now I can't align left either. Well, it's lunchtime and I thought I would just post my list for the time being.

One Year Later: Top Ten List 
10.  You get to sleep whenever you darn well please.
9.    Everybody wants to help.
8.   No matter how bad you feel, every drawn breath is a good thing.
7.    You find out what being blessed really means.
6.   You discover who your friends really are and the people that matter to you most.
5.   Your vocabulary expands.
4.    God’s Grace is indefatigable.
3.    Your family still thinks you’re a nut case. (But love you anyway.)
2.    Being part of a community of Believers is one of the best things ever.
1.    Pee issues are best dealt with in the comfort of your own home.   

One Year Later: Bottom 10 list
10 through 1   CANCER SUCKS

One year later continued

Written Jun 20, 2012 8:49pm by Kent Yoder
So, what is it that I really have discovered?
I have discovered that a belief in the true and Living God, can overcome anything. Even in my deepest moments of despair, He hears my cry and gives me comfort; although I don't always acknowledge His presence.
I have discovered that people genuinely care about each other, despite any differences we may have. 
I have discovered that children are truly a blessing to be cherished and loved. Sure they still get on your nerves and drive ya nuts; then they turn right into little angels that make you smile and laugh with their innocence.
I have discovered that the love of a wonderful woman is worth waiting 38 years for, and nothing I do can ever make me feel like I've recompensed her for the last year. Or 11 years.
I have discovered that emotion, good or bad, is okay to display, people understand.
I have discovered new meanings that make me weep, in old songs that have been sung for years. And in new songs that I have not heard before.
I have discovered that Life is a Precious Gift, that should never, ever be squandered on petty things. (Oh, how hard that is to follow!)
I have discovered joy in the simplest things. Be it an early morning bike ride, or a silly kitten that would rather hiss at you than be petted.
I have discovered that family can be your greatest ally. And they will understand if you seem to be conked out, but are actually listening to several good stories at once.
I have discovered how to be an inspiration to others, and how to accept that I am; even though I may find it hard to fathom.
I have discovered that prayer is a powerful force. One that is not to be taken lightly.
I have discovered that despite my shortcomings and my sins, God has a purpose for my life. Still not sure what it is, but I'm here for some reason, as are we all.

And now I've discovered that it's late and I'm tired.
May the rest of your week be filled with all the joy that God can give you. Discover for yourself how to find that joy in the simplest things. Go and be the inspiration for others.
In Christ

If you wish to, you can read more of Kent’s blog, and follow his progress, here.