Even though I haven’t met up face-to-face with my cousin Ellen since we were teenagers, we communicate with email. Always, I’ve treasured her wit and intelligence, but now I realize what a truly remarkable person she is, the brave way she’s dealing with a terrible illness she now has. “Cardiac Amyloidosis has pretty much turned me into an invalid,” she wrote in early January. She was apologizing for not sending out Christmas cards! Today she said, “We need to enjoy what we have when we have it.” Yesterday her husband took her to an Italian restaurant, and “we had dinner just like real people.” She shared a bit of humor about her grandson’s love pats, always with sticky fingers. Ellen is a great inspiration, and she is absolutely right. Success is not defined by obtaining everything we want but by enjoying what we have right now. Right now she is enjoying her wonderful family with an added benefit– her energy level is improving.
Enjoy what you have rather than desiring what you don’t have. Just dreaming about nice things is meaningless–like chasing the wind.
Ellen suffers from cardiac amyloidosis, a disorder caused by deposits of an abnormal protein (amyloid) in the heart tissue, which make it hard for the heart to work properly. These proteins slowly replace normal tissue, leading to failure of the involved organ. There are many forms of amyloidosis, but cardiac amyloidosis (“stiff heart syndrome”) occurs when amyloid deposits take the place of normal heart muscle. Fortunately Ellen is receiving chemotherapy to target the amyloid protein, and I pray every day that it’s working.
A positive outlook benefits a person fighting cancer.