A Story For You, About Me


A story. My story.

Something happened yesterday that really dug into me. Into my heart. My soul. My physical being.

First, I have to tell you the back story. Where I come from they say to tell another living person. It shouldn’t be somebody who is close to you. It shouldn’t be somebody who supports you unconditionally.


I’m telling you.

Before I do, I want to tell you not to worry. The words my be scary. The illness isn’t and likely will never be.

In 2015 my primary care doctor noticed that my white blood cell count had been high for a year. He was running a blood test as part of my normal annual physical. He referred me to another doctor. A blood specialist. After more blood work and specialized research, I was diagnosed with CLL. A kind of leukemia. After assuring me that it wouldn’t kill me, and that it probably would never become symptomatic, he sent me home with a lot of research — online and in hard copy. I found out that he was right.

But, still…

It’s an emotional upheaval. It wasn’t until musical miss’ mom, a retired surgical nurse, said that once we got over the shock, I should just go on living my life. Three years later, and probably four, I’m fine. I am asymptomatic. I have my blood checked regularly. If anything my numbers are getting better. I do take care of myself and that matters. It will likely never emerge. The odds are great 98% of newly diagnosed patients never have it emerge. That’s why you shouldn’t worry.

Flash forward to yesterday.

I was at my oncologist’s office (how weird is that to say out loud) waiting my turn. I was talking to a family. Their little boy liked me, so he and I played iPhone games.  They were waiting for their daughter who was helped into the office by a nurse. She was barely hanging on to a walker. She was wearing a tank top. She had two chemo port holes in her upper chest. The family helped her put on a t-shirt. The nurse was talking about the next treatment plan. The current plan was not having the desired effect. I guess there must have been a lot of pain in my eyes. This young girl’s dad put his hand on my shoulder and said, quietly “I’ll be alright.”

My turn in the office.

I have a great doctor. While he’s looking me over and explaining my numbers we talk about everything. Since we are close to another Katrina anniversary we talked about that. Because he is a good doctor, he noticed that I was a little sad. When he asked why, I told him. He replied that he really couldn’t say anything. I just said that it didn’t look good. He looked me in the eye and said that it wouldn’t be good.

The young girl is 13 years old.

She will never be able to live her life. Please understand that I have no desire to die. No death wish. Nothing like it. I hope to be old and feisty when I go. But, in that one moment I thought that if I could change places with her I would not hesitate. I’ve lived most of my life. She’s just getting started. It doesn’t seem fair. But, who said life was fair?

Please have a good thought for her. You may not know her. But, she is universal. You do know her.

The picture. Oh. Yeah. I saw a bunch of leaves reflecting off the back of a sign. A handicapped sign. I guess that was meant to be. I just darkened it a bit.


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      • I mean, nothing; these awful situations occur. I try and gather them in my heart, and offer them to God, remembering them; if we forget, it’s like cutting these people away, and painting a false picture of the whole. –but I don’t see another way to _get_ a whole outside of some kind of gathering-up in memory before God, since there’s no mathematical horizon, and certainly no calculus of worldly outcomes, that makes these events and situations OK. I can’t fix situations like these, or burdens like this doc has, but I can be honest about them, and hold them together with moments that I find beautiful in a kind of offering. I’m not trying to preach, Ray –forgive me if it sounds that way– but to confess, because this has been on my heart and mind often over the past six months.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Go ahead and preach. It’s far better than not. You know what I always say. “The work is the prayer.” After leaving, I made a couple of good pictures on the way home. They were for her. For me. Everybody else in that waiting room. That’s all I know to do. Thank you for sharing this.


  1. I routinely give small donations to St. Jude’s because while I am SO THANKFUL for the good health of my children and grandchildren, I have friends with grandchildren, young ones, very ill and in some instances, receiving very little encouragement. I just have to do something tangible when my heart hurts. I’m glad to hear that you’re taking care of yourself and monitoring what still must weigh on your mind at times. Your sensitivity to this situation yesterday doesn’t surprise me from what i’ve come to know of you, and that’s sometimes what we need to “put out there.” You provided that dad with a moment of understanding, and you won’t forget this young girl. I won’t either. Put in context against the good health of those closest to me in this world, I think the least I can do is offer up more than personal gratitude, but also thoughts, prayers and all the energy we can muster on behalf of those carrying the unimaginable. Thanks for sharing, Ray.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Debra. We donate to Shriners for about the same thing. When I was a very young man (high school) I was a good enough football player to be selected to play in their all star summer football game. You have all these tough football players standing in line after being introduced when the announcer says something like, “these young men are using their strong legs to help those with weak legs.” Look up and down the line and not one of us could keep the tears out of our eyes.


  2. This hit me right in the heart and the tears spilled over. Thank you for caring about that little girl, and for sharing her with us. I am asking the angels, who know who she is, to look after her and her family, and to work through her doctors. And so it is.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Sharon. I’m glad that you are so caring. The doctor’s office is great. The doctors and nurses are wonderful. But, when you sit in the waiting room and look around, oh gosh. I feel like a fraud because most of these people are really, really sick. While I have to monitor myself, even if my CLL progresses, I’ll never be as sick as these people. I’m happy for me, but still…


  3. Powerful and touching message Ray. Thank you for sharing. A few years ago our nephew in Bossier City passed from cancer at 12 y/o, one year to the day of dignosis. My sis noticed how many LA cars are in the St. Jude Memphis parking lot and asked. She was told that a majority of children there are from LA, and they suspect it is because of the lack of control on industrial and other wastes. Heartbreaking.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Kristine. I hope you are enjoying your return home.

      There is a stretch of River Road, upriver from NOLA and down river for Baton Rouge called Cancer Alley. It is were a lot of big chemical producers have their plants. This is pretty well known.

      Most of the cancer patients are very poor. That’s probably why they are accepted at St. Judes which charges nothing for care, medicine and relative housing while the patient is there.


  4. I shared this on my timeline at Facebook and also at my blog’s Facebook page. I included the admonition that EVERYONE should read this. I’m so glad that I did. Thank you for making me sad and uplifting me at the same time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • On The Beatles trail are you? I spent a couple of weeks there once. I was working with a photographer called Werner Bokleburg. He is so well known that when I gave his address to a taxi driver, he looked at it and said, “Ah, Studio Bokel.”

      In theory I should be alright. It’s something that rarely emerges. It’s usually found by normal blood tests done during my yearly physical. When it does break out, it feels like the worse flu ever. If it ever does, I can take a pill form of targeted chemo and I’ll even get to keep my hair.

      Liked by 1 person

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