Keep Smiling…Through the Good and Bad Times (Op-Ed)

Death–it’s the only certainty of life.

While many of us accept death as a fact, how many among us have been confronted with the reality of it? How many have been so close to death as to feel and taste it?

About two months ago I became ill, to the point I could not eat, stand or function effectively. I became so sick, my body went into septic shock, causing my organs to begin shutting down.

By midnight June 10 I called 911 and requested an ambulance transport to Lehigh Valley Hospital-Muhlenberg, where I was swiftly admitted in the emergency room.

There, doctors and nurses worked quickly to pump needed fluids and blood into my system to ensure my body was stable enough to move me into the intensive care unit. After three days, I was strong enough to move into a regular room, and on the fifth day I was well enough to be discharged.

A year of postponing and ignoring an ongoing health issue had led to a deadly infection and the acceptance of a rare form of skin cancer that caused extensive damage.

I’m now receiving daily radiation treatments, however, the future remains uncertain. I’m told the type of cancer I have is incurable and may kill me.

I’ve always considered myself a deep thinker; someone who thoroughly enjoys ruminating on the perplexing questions and issues related to life.

While I always accepted the fact death will befall us all, to personally experience a closeness to death and be told a disease I have will eventually lead to my death has resulted in a greater understanding of mortality.

I’ve learned there is an unusual power to being told you have a rare, terminal disease. For me, it’s opened up my spirit, soul, mind and eyes to how temporal and fragile life is.

I have also arrived at a comfortable point in my spiritual journey where I have found contentment and happiness despite my circumstances.

Life is something we should not and cannot take for granted. We all must do our best to appreciate the goodness and beauty of life and family and friends among us. And, each of us should be compassionate and helpful to those in need.

My disease has sparked an intense desire to continue the fight to remain alive and to eventually beat this cancer. The disease has also opened up my heart and hands to accept the assistance and generosity of others.

Many among us will eventually be confronted with disease and illness. I believe it’s how we react to our physical ailments and treatments that determines our future.

We can either remain negative and in a dark hole, or develop and foster a positive attitude through the tough days life throws at us.

Join me in keeping that smile on your face and positive attitude through the good and bad times.

Bath resident Mark Reccek began reporting in 2010. He is a former distressed debt reporter for Prospect News, an online publisher of stock market and financial news. He also serves as a web reporter for WFMZ and the Lehigh Valley Press weekly newspapers. A Lehigh Valley native, Mark graduated from Lehigh University with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in political science. He also holds a law degree from the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law. He is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps, having served active duty from 1996-2000.

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