Thursday, December 31, 2009


We all have a tendency once in a while to look in the wrong direction. You know, to see our glass as half empty instead of half full.

Last October our son, Reid was in the Neuro Science Intensive Care Unit at a nearby hospital. He had a large mass in his chest and a tumor in his spinal canal. I was devastated. They wanted to operate as quickly as possible because he was already numb from the chest down from the spinal cord compression. In fact, the surgery was scheduled and then canceled by the anesthesiologist due to concerns that when they turned him over to operate the mass in his chest cavity would make it impossible for them to keep him breathing during surgery. Finally, a couple of days later it was decided that benefit outweighed risk and they had to get the tumor out before he lost more feeling in his body. Surgery went forward successfully with a lot of extra care by anesthesiology.

During that time I would arrive in intensive care and walk back to Reid's room with a heavy heart. There was still no diagnosis, but we knew that cancer was a very real possibility. Reid was often taken out of his room for various tests and procedures and observed the patients in other rooms. One day when I arrived he told me that he had decided he was probably the luckiest person in intensive care. I was shocked, but I think I recovered before he noticed. Lucky? Numb from the chest down with a spinal canal tumor and mass of unknown origin didn't exactly sound very lucky to me, but I hadn't been paying too much attention to the other patients either. He had been, and when I looked around I saw what he saw. There were people on ventilators, people obviously recovering from head injuries or brain surgery, and people totally unresponsive. Perhaps he was correct, but the most important thing was that he saw himself as lucky in the middle of a crisis. He could have been drowning in self pity, but he chose to look in another direction instead. His glass was half full.

He's now completed two rounds of chemo (4 treatments) and I asked him this past week if he ever felt sorry for himself. Did he ever think why me? Chemo is certainly no fun. He usually ends up feeling crappy for a week afterwards and has at least four more rounds to go. And along with the chemo there's the risk of complications down the road. He will likely have radiation after the chemo. He told me no, not since the very first day at the emergency clinic when he realized that something was seriously wrong. After that he just concerned himself with getting well. He says he knows there are people a lot worse off than him. I truly believe that his "glass half full" attitude will take him far in the coming year.

In the year 2010 may all our glasses be half full!


  1. That is truly beautiful, Betty. What a remarkable, upbeat attitude he has, and how wonderful the empathy he has for the other patients. Bet it will be a good year for you and your family in 2010.

  2. Oh Betty what an amazing son you have!! You should be downright proud of that guy as I know you are. Prayers going up for a great new year!!

  3. Betty, How lucky in many ways you are to have this young man as your son...with his postive attitude and his concern for others, I know he will recover and have a happy life. I will say prayers for him, you and your family.

    Happ New Year and best wishes for a great 2010.

  4. Your son is one of the most amazing people I have read about in a long, long time. I have always thought of my glass as more than half full but if I was faced with his problems - well, I don't know how I'd react or feel.

    People look at weight lifters and football players and believe they are seeing men of incredible strength. Not even close. Men like your son are the ones who have strength and are the men that we should be showing to our young boys saying, "...this man is strong."

  5. Beautifully written and a lesson for us all, Betty. Wishing you and your wonderful son all the best in the New Year.


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